The Project Gutenberg EBook of London, by Walter Besant

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{iv} Copyright, 1892, by Harper & Brothers.

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In the following chapters it has been my endeavor to present pictures of the City of London—instantaneous photographs, showing the streets, the buildings, and the citizens at work and at play. Above all, the citizens: with their daily life in the streets, in the shops, in the churches, and in the houses; the merchant in the quays and on 'Change; the shopkeeper of Cheapside; the priests and the monks and the friars; the shouting of those who sell; the laughter and singing of those who feast and drink; the ringing of the bells; the dragging of the criminal to the pillory; the Riding of the Lord Mayor and Aldermen; the river with its boats and barges; the cheerful sound of pipe and tabor; the stage with its tumblers and its rope-dancers; the 'prentices with their clubs; the evening dance in the streets. I want my pictures to show all these things. The history of London has been undertaken by many writers; the presentment of the city and the people from age to age has never yet, I believe, been attempted.

The sources whence one derives the materials for such an attempt are, in the earlier stages, perfectly well known and accessible to all. Chaucer, Froissart, Lydgate, certain volumes of the "Early English Text Society," occur to everybody. But the richest mine, for him who digs after the daily life of the London citizen during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, is certainly Riley's great book of Extracts from the City Records. If there is any life or{vi} any reality in the three chapters of this book which treat of the Plantagenet period, it is certainly due to Riley.

As regards the Tudor period, the wealth of illustration is astonishing. One might as well be writing of the city life of this day, so copious are the materials. But it is not to Shakespeare and the dramatists that we must look for the details so much as to the minor writers, the moralists and satirists, of whom the ordinary world knows nothing.

The reign of Charles II. directs one to the Plague and to the Fire. I was fortunate in finding two tracts, one dealing with the plague of 1603, and the other with that of 1625. These, though they are earlier than Charles II., were invaluable, as illustrating the effect of the pestilence in causing an exodus of all who could get away, which took place as much in these earlier years as in 1666. Contemporary tracts on the state of London after the Fire, also happily discovered, proved useful. And when the Plague and the Fire had been dismissed, another extraordinary piece of good fortune put me in possession of certain household accounts which enabled me to present a bourgeois family of the period at home.

Where there is so much to speak about, one must exercise care in selection. I have endeavored to avoid as much as possible those points which have already been presented. For instance, the growth of the municipality, the rise of the Guilds and the Companies, the laws of London, the relations of the City to the Sovereign and the State—these things belong to the continuous historian, not to him who draws a picture of a given time. In the latter case it is the effect of law, not its growth, which is important. Thus I have spoken of the pilgrimizing in the time of Henry II.; of the Mysteries of that time; things that belonged to the daily life; rather than to matters of policy,{vii} the stubborn tenacity of the City, or the changes that were coming over the conditions of existence and of trade. Again, in Plantagenet London one might have dwelt at length upon the action taken by London in successive civil wars. That, again, belongs to the historian. I have contented myself with sketching the churches and the monasteries, the palaces and the men-at-arms, the merchants and the workmen.

Again, in the time of George II., the increase of trade, which then advanced by leaps and bounds, the widening of the world to London enterprise, the part which London took in the conquest of India and the ejection of France from North America belong to history. For my own part I have preferred to show the position, the influence, and the work of the Church at a time generally believed to be the deadest period in the whole history of the Church of England. This done, I have gone on to illustrate the day-by-day life of the citizens, with the prices of things, the management, and the appearance of the City.

One thing remains to be said. Mr. Loftie, in his History of London (Stadford), first gave the world a reconstruction of the ground—the terrain—of London and its environs before ever a house was erected or an acre cleared. The first chapter of this book—that on Roman London and After—is chiefly due to a study of this map, and to realizing what that map means when applied to the scanty records of Augusta. This map enabled me to recover the years which followed the retreat of the Romans. I cannot allow this chapter to be called a Theory. It is, I venture to claim for it, nothing less than a Recovery.


United University Club:
May 2, 1892.





Stowe's Monument, in North Aisle of St. Andrew Undershaft2
Roman Marble Sarcophagus. Guildhall4
Statues of Mercury, Apollo, and Jupiter or Neptune: found in the Thames, 18376
Bronze Articles for Domestic Use8
Bronze Fibulæ and other Ornaments: found in London11
Roman Pavement: Leadenhall Street14
Bronze Bust of the Emperor Hadrian: found in the Thames. British Museum17
A Bit of Roman Wall. From a Photograph by W. H. Grove, 174 Brompton Road20
Lamps and Lamp-stand23
Sepulchral Cists, etc.: found in Warwick Square, Newgate Street, 1881. British Museum32
Roman Keys. Guildhall34
Toilet Articles—Hair-pins; Hair-pin (Sarina, Wife of Hadrian); Bone Comb and Case (Cloakham); Bone Comb (Lower Thames Street)36
Statuettes: found in Thames Street, 1889. Guildhall39
Roman Amphoræ41
London Stone, Cannon Street, as it appeared in 180045
Battle between Two Armed Knights49
River Tilting in the Twelfth Century52
Crypt: Remains of the Collegiate Church of St. Martin-le-Grand, N.E.54
The Founder's Tomb, St. Bartholomew the Great, E.C., founded 112357
{xii}South Ambulatory, Church of St. Bartholomew, founded 112361
St. Katherine's by the Tower64
Interior of the Church of St. Katherine's by the Tower65
Dowgate Dock68
St. Saviour's Dock70
North-east View of St. Saviour's73
Plan of Saxon Church, Bradford-on-Avon76
Saxon Church, Seventh or Eighth Century, Bradford-on-Avon77
Sculptured Angel, Saxon Church78
View of Interior of Saxon Church, showing very remarkable Chancel Arch and Entrance79
First Stone London Bridge, begun A.D. 117682
Crypt, or Lower Chapel, of St. Thomas's Church, London Bridge84
West Front of Chapel on London Bridge85
Part of London Wall in the Church-yard of St. Giles, Cripplegate88
Entrance to Knights Hospitallers90
Buildings of Knights Hospitallers91
Crypt in Bow Church, from the North Side, near the East End of the Nave95
Interior of Porch of the Parish Church of St. Alphege, London Wall, formerly the Chapel of the Priory of St. Elsynge Spital97
The Arms and Seals of the Prior and Convent of St. Saviour at Bermondsey101
A City Monument107
Ruins (1790) of the Nunnery of St. Helen, Bishopsgate Street110
St. Helen's, Bishopsgate113
South-west View of the Interior of the Church of St. Helen, Bishopsgate Street116
Church of St. Augustin (St. Austin)119
Church of Austin Friars122
Christ's Hospital, from the Cloisters126
The Charter House130
Ruins of the Convent of Nuns Minories, 1810133
Bow Church, Mile End Road137
{xiii}North-east View of Waltham Abbey Church, Essex140
Waltham Abbey Church, Essex, before Restoration145
Porch of St. Sepulchre's Church148
South View of the Palace of the Bishops of Winchester, near St. Saviour's151
Charing Cross. Erected by Edward I. in memory of Queen Eleanor of Castile156
Church of St. Paul's before the Fire158
Monuments of St. Paul's which survived the Fire (east end of North Crypt)160
Ancient North-east View of Bishopsgate Street162
The College of Arms, or Herald's Office164
View of the Savoy from the Thames165
View of the South Front of Baynard's Castle, about 1640167
View of Cold Harbor, in Thames Street, about 1600171
Crosby House, Bishopsgate Street173
Interior of Crosby Hall175
Interior of part of Crosby Hall, called the Council Room, looking East178
Gateway, etc., in Crosby Square (now destroyed)180
Crosby Hall183
North-east View of Crosby Hall, showing part of the Interior of the Great Hall187
Gerrard's Hall191
Bridewell Palace, about 1660, with the Entrance to the Fleet River, part of the Black Friars, etc.195
The Thames Front, A.D. 1540197
Ancient Court of Bridewell Palace201
Old Charing Cross216
The Strand (1547), with the Strand Cross, Covent Garden, and the Procession of Edward VI. to his Coronation at Westminster241
Arms of Sir Richard Whittington244
Arms granted to the Craft of the Ironmongers of London by Lancaster King of Arms, A.D. 1466246
Guildhall, King Street, London248
Blackwell Hall, King Street251
{xiv}Ancient Plate254
The Conduit, near Bayswater257
South-east View of Stepney Church259
Boar in Eastcheap264
The View of London Bridge from East to West271
The Pool275
Burghley House283
Ilford Almshouses287
Old Tavern289
Front of Sir Paul Pinder's House, on the West Side of Bishopsgate Street Without291
The Royal Exchange, Cornhill295
The Steel Yard, etc., Thames Street, after the Great Fire of 1666299
Collegii Greshamensis a Latere Occidentali Prospectus A.D. 1739302
Curious Pump305
Sign of the Three Kings, Bucklersbury321
The Manner of Burning Anne Askew, John Lacels, John Adams, and Nicolas Belenian, with certane of ye Counsell sitting in Smithfield326
Old Fountain Inn in the Minories. Taken down in 1793329
South-west View of an Ancient Structure in Ship Yard, Temple Bar335
Obsequies of Sir Philip Sidney341
Dr. Shaw preaching at St. Paul's Cross347
The Old Bull and Mouth Inn, St. Martin's-le-Grand. Now pulled down353
Globe Theatre357
Inside of the Red Bull Playhouse359
South View of Falcon Tavern, on the Bank Side, Southwark, as it appeared in 1805363
Palace of Whitehall in the Reign of James II.373
Hungerford Market380
Fleet Street385
Below Bridge389
{xv}Old East India House396
Sion College398
John Bunyan's Meeting-house in Zoar Street401
Old Grocers' Hall, used for Bank of England403
London after the Fire405
Old St. Paul's, with the Porch of Inigo Jones411
Houses in St. Katherine's. Pulled down in 1827432
Lud Gate435
Davenant's School439
St. Dunstan's in the West445
Approach to London Bridge447
Above Bridge452
St. James's Palace—March of the Guards456
North View of the Marshalsea, Southwark461
Charing Cross463
A Dish of Tea469
Visiting Card478
Sir John Fielding's Court, Bow Street487
Interior of St. Stephen, Walbrook491
Concert Ticket493





The only real authorities for the events which took place in Britain during the fifth and sixth centuries are Gildas and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. There are other writers—Ethelwerd, for instance, who copied the Chronicle, and adds nothing; and Nennius, whose work, edited by one Mark the Hermit in the tenth century, was found in the Vatican. The first edition was published in London in the year 1819, in the original Latin, by the Rev. William Gunn. Nennius gives a brief account of King Arthur and his exploits, but he affords little or no information that is of use to us. The work of Richard of Cirencester is extremely valuable on account of its topography; it is also interesting as the work of the first English antiquary. But he belonged to the fourteenth century, and has added nothing to the history, of which he knew no more—less, indeed—than we ourselves can discover. The book named after Geoffrey of Monmouth is not worth a moment's serious consideration. In Bede's Ecclesiastical History passages may be found which throw side lights on this period, but they are few.{2}


Gildas, called Badonicus, is supposed to have been born in or about the year 520, in Wales. A great mass of legend has collected about the name of Gildas. He was the son of a British kinglet; his three-and-twenty brothers fought under King Arthur. He himself preached, taught, and in the matter of miracles was greatly blessed. He wrote—if he did write—about the year 560, and is therefore contemporary with the events of which he speaks. His book contains a vast quantity of rhetoric to a very small amount of history. Unfortunately for him, he was called by his admiring fellow-monks, in his lifetime, Sapiens—the Wise. Perhaps, in order to live up to this designation, he was fain to assume the garb and language of a prophet, and, with what he thought prophetic force, which we now perceive to be ecclesiastical inflation, he proceeded to admonish princes and people of their sins. Every age, to the ecclesiastical prophet as to the secular satirist, is an age of unbounded profligacy; of{3} vice such as the world has never before witnessed; of luxury advanced to heights hitherto untrodden; of license, wantonness, riot unbridled and unparalleled, insomuch that the city of Jerusalem, even when under the soft influences of Ahola and Aholibah, were really righteous and pure in comparison. No doubt Gildas lived in a most trying and most disappointing time. Things went wrong, and things went steadily from bad to worse. His people were defeated and driven continually westward; they could not even hold together and fight side by side against the common enemy; religion was forgotten in the fierce struggles for life, and in the fiercer civil dissensions. As for the enemy, Saxon, Angle, or Jute, all were alike, in that none had the least reverence for priest or for Church; everywhere fighting, defeat, and massacre. Yet one cannot but think that a lower note might have been struck with greater advantage; and now that it is impossible to learn how far the prophet's admonitions brought repentance to his kings, one regrets that a simple statement of the events in chronological order as they occurred was not thought useful or desirable in a historical work. Would you hear how the Sapient addresses kings? Listen. He is admonishing for his good the King of North Wales—Cuneglass by name:

"Thou, too, Cuneglass, why art thou fallen into the filth of thy former naughtiness? Yea, since the first spring of thy tender youth, thou Bear, thou Rider and Ruler of many and Guider of the chariot which is the receptacle of the Bear, thou Contemner of God and Vilifier of his order! Thou tawny Butcher! Why, besides thine other innumerable backslidings, having{4} thrown out of doors thy wife, dost thou, against the apostle's express prohibition, esteem her detestable sister, who has vowed unto God everlasting continency, as the very flower of the celestial nymphs?"

In similar gentle strains he approaches, and delicately touches upon, the sins of other kings.


This kind of language is difficult to sustain, and sometimes leads to contradictions. Thus, in one sentence, the Sapient speaks of his countrymen as wholly ignorant of the art of war, and in another he tells how the flower of the British youth went off to fight for Maximus.

As regards the alleged luxury of the time, this poor monk wrote from a dismal cell, very likely of wattle and daub, certainly draughty and cold; his food was poor and scanty; his bed was hard; life to him was a long endurance. The roasted meats, the soft pillows and cushions, the heated rooms of the better sort, seemed to him detestable and wicked luxury, especially when he thought of the Saxons and Jutes overrunning the ruined country. Of course, in every age the wealthy will surround themselves with whatever comforts can be procured. We are in these days, for instance, advanced to what our ancestors would have{5} called an inconceivable height of luxury. One would like to invite the luxurious Cuneglass to spend a day or two with a young man of the present day. Those who were neither rich nor free lived hardly, as they do to this day, but more hardly; those who were young and strong, even though they were not perhaps trained to the use of arms, easily learned how to use them, and when it came to victory or death, they soon recovered the old British spirit. This is not the place, otherwise it would be interesting to show what a long and gallant stand was made by these people whom it is customary to call cowardly and luxurious—these ancestors of the gallant Welsh.[1] It is manifest that a period of two hundred years and more of peace, almost profound, their frontiers and their coasts guarded for them by the legions of Rome, must have lowered the British spirit. But the people quickly recovered it. The Arthurian epic, it is certain, has plenty of foundation in fact, and perhaps poor King Cuneglass himself, the Bear and Butcher, wielded a valiant sword in spite of his family troubles. The Britons were, it is quite certain, prone to internal dissensions, which greatly assisted their defeat and conquest. But they had one bond of union. Their enemies were pagan; they were Christian. Gildas addresses a nation of Christians, not a church planted among idolaters. Christian symbols and emblems have been found everywhere on the site of Roman towns, not, it is true, in large quantities, but they are found; while, though altars have also been found, and pagan emblems and{6} statuettes of gods, there are no ruins anywhere in Britain, except at Bath, of Roman temples. Their faith, like the Catholicism of the Irish, was their national symbol. It separated them broadly from their enemies; it gave them contempt for barbarians. The faith therefore flourished with great strength and vigor. But the popular Christianity seems to have been in Britannia, as everywhere, a very mixed kind of creed. As in Southern Italy among the peasants there linger to this day traditions, customs, and superstitions of paganism which the people call the Old{7} Faith, so in Britain there lingered among the people ceremonies and beliefs which the Church vainly tried to suppress, or craftily changed into Christian observances. Such things linger still in Wales, though the traveller regards them not. In the same way the folk-lore of our own time in our own villages is still largely composed of the beliefs and superstitions inherited from our old English—not British—ancestors. What happens is always the same, and must be the same. In times of religious revolution the common folk change the name of their God, but not his nature or his attributes. Apollo becomes the Christ, but in the minds of the Italian peasants he remains the old Apollo. The great Sun-God, worshipped under so many names and with so many attributes, remains in the hearts of rustics long, long centuries after mass has been said and the Host has been elevated. Nay, it has even been said that the mass itself is an adaptation of pagan ritual to Christian worship. But the people, whatever their old beliefs, called themselves Christian, and that one fact enabled them to forget their jealousies and quarrels in times of emergency, and sometimes to act together. They were Christian; their enemies were pagan. It is significant that in one passage Gildas—who is quoted by Bede—reproaches them for not converting their conquerors, among whom they lived. This proves, if the fact wanted proof, (1) that the Britons were not exterminated by their conquerors; (2) that they were allowed to continue unmolested in their own religion; and (3) that they kept it to themselves as a possession of their own, a consolation in disaster, and a mark of superiority and dignity.



One thing is quite clear, that when the Roman legions finally withdrew, the Britons were left thoroughly awakened to the fact that if they could not fight they must perish. They understood once more the great law of humanity in all ages, that those who would enjoy in peace must be prepared to fight in war. They fought, therefore, valiantly; yet not so valiantly as the stronger race which came to drive them out.


In particular, however, we have to deal with the fate of London, which was then Augusta. Let us first endeavor to lay down the facts. They are to be drawn from two sources: the first from the meagre notes of the historians, the second from certain topographical and geographical considerations. The latter have never yet been fully presented, and I believe that the conclusion to be drawn by comparing the double set of facts will be accepted as irresistible.

The following are the facts related by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle:{9}

A.D. 443.—This year the Britons sent over the sea to Rome, and begged for help against the Picts; but they had none, because they were themselves warring against Attila, King of the Huns. And then they sent to the Angles, and entreated the like of the Ethelings of the Angles.

A.D. 449.—Hengist and Horsa, invited by Vortigern, King of the Britons, landed in Britain on the shore called Wippidsfleet (Ebbsfleet?), at first in aid of the Britons, but afterwards they fought against them. King Vortigern gave them land in the south-east of this county on condition that they should fight against the Picts. They then fought against the Picts, and had the victory wheresoever they came. Then they sent to the Angles, desired a larger force to be sent, and caused them to be told the worthlessness of the Britons and the excellence of the land. Then they soon sent thither a larger force in aid of the others. At that time came men from three tribes in Germany—from the Old Saxons, from the Angles, and from the Jutes. From the Jutes came the Kentish men and the Wightwarians—that is, the tribe which now dwells in Wight, and that race among the West Saxons which is still called the race of Jutes. From the Old Saxons came the men of Essex, Sussex, and Wessex. From Anglia, which has ever since remained waste, betwixt the Jutes and Saxons, came the men of East Anglia, Middle Anglia, Mercia, and of Northumbria.

A.D. 455.—This year Hengist and Horsa fought against King Vortigern at the place called Ægelsthrop (Aylesford), and his brother Horsa was slain, and after that Hengist obtained the kingdom, and Æsc, his son.

A.D. 456.—This year Hengist and Æsc slew four troops of Britons with the edge of the sword in the place which is named Crecganford (Crayford).

A.D. 457.—This year Hengist and Æsc, his son, fought against the Britons at a place called Crecganford, and then slew 4000 men. And the Britons then forsook Kent, and in great terror fled to London.

A.D. 465.—This year Hengist and Æsc fought against the Welsh near Wippidsfleet (Ebbsfleet), and there slew twelve{10} Welsh ealdormen, and one of their own Thanes was slain there whose name was Wippid.

A.D. 473.—This year Hengist and Æsc fought against the Welsh, and took spoils innumerable; and the Welsh fled from the Angles like fire.

A.D. 477.—This year Ælla and his three sons came to the land of Britain with their ships at a place called Cymensrova, and there slew many Welsh, and some they drove in flight into the wood that is named Andredes-lea. (Probably the landing was on the coast of Sussex.)

A.D. 485.—This year Ælla fought against the Welsh near the Bank of Mearcriediburn.

A.D. 491.—This year Ælla and Cissa besieged Andredacester (Pevensey), and slew all that dwelt therein, so that not a single Briton was left.

A.D. 495.—This year two ealdormen came to Britain, Cerdic, and Cynric his son, with five ships, at the place which is called Cerdicsore (probably Calshot Castle on Southampton water), and Stuf and Whitgen fought against the Britons and put them to flight.

A.D. 519.—This year Cerdic and Cynric obtained the kingdom of the West Saxons; and the same year they fought against the Britons where it is now named Cerdisford (Charford on the Avon near Fordingbridge).

A.D. 527.—This year Cerdic and Cynric fought against the Britons at the place called Ardicslea.

A.D. 530.—This year Cerdic and Cynric conquered the Island of Wight, and slew many men at Whit-garan-byrg (Carisbrooke, Isle of Wight).

A.D. 547.—This year Ida began to reign, from whom came the royal race of Northumberland.

The conquest of England was now virtually completed. There was fighting at Old Sarum in 552; at Banbury in 556; at Bedford, at Aylesbury, and at Benson, in the year 571. One would judge this to be a last sortie made by the Welsh who had been driven{11} into the fens. In the year 577 three important places in the west are taken—Gloucester, Bath, and Cirencester. In 584 there was fighting at Fethan-lea (Frethern), when the victor took many towns and spoils innumerable; "and wrathful he thence returned to his own." As late as 596 we hear that the king of the West Saxons fought, and contended incessantly against either the Angles (his own cousins), or the Welsh, or the Picts, or the Scots; and in 607 was fought the great battle of Chester, in which "numberless" Welsh were slain, including two hundred priests who had come to pray for victory.


It is therefore evident that the conquest of the country took a long time to effect—not less, indeed, than two hundred years. First, Kent, with Surrey, fell; next, Sussex; both before the end of the fifth century. Early in the sixth century the West Saxons{12} conquered the country covered by Hampshire, a part of Surrey, and Dorsetshire; next, Essex fell, and there was stubborn fighting for many years in the country about and beyond the great Middlesex forest. The conquest of the North concerns us little, save that it drew off some of those who were fighting in what afterwards became the Kingdom of Mercia. I desire to note here only the surroundings of London, and to mark how, by successive steps of the invaders' march, it was gradually cut off, bit by bit, from the surrounding country. Thus, when Kent was overrun, the bridge gate was closed, the roads south, south-west, and south-east were blocked, and the whole of that country cut off from London; at the fall of Essex, Norfolk, and Suffolk, the eastern gate was closed, and that great district was cut off. When Wessex was an established kingdom, the river highway was closed; there then remained only the western gate, and that, during the whole of the sixth century, led out into a country perpetually desolated and destroyed by war, so that, by the middle of the sixth century, no more communication whatever was possible between London and the rest of the country, unless the people made a sortie and cut their way through the enemy.

Observe, however, that no mention whatever is made of London in the Chronicle. Other and less important towns are mentioned. Anderida or Pevensey, Aquæ Solis or Bath, Gloucester, Chester, and many others; but of London there is no mention. Consider: London, though not much greater than other cities in the country—York, Verulam, Lincoln, Colchester, for instance—was undoubtedly the chief port of the country. We must not bring modern ideas to{13} bear when we read of the vast trade, the immense concourse of merchants, and so forth. We need not picture miles of docks and countless masts. Roman London was not modern Liverpool. Its bulk of trade was perfectly insignificant compared with that of the present. When we begin to consider the mediæval trade of London this will become apparent. Still, it was, up to the coming of the Saxons, a vigorous and flourishing place, and the chief port of the country. Why, therefore, does the Chronicle absolutely pass over so great an event as the taking of London?

Such is the evidence of history. Let us consider next the evidence of topography. We shall understand what happened in London when we understand the exceptional position of London and the dangers to which the city in time of civil war was necessarily exposed.

We will go back to the beginning of all things—to the lie of the land on which London was planted. The reader, if he will consult that very admirable book, Loftie's History of London, will find in it a most instructive map. It shows the terrain before the city was built at all. The river Thames, between Mortlake on the west and Blackwall on the east, pursued a serpentine way, in the midst of marshes stretching north and south. There were marshes all the way. At spring tides, and at all tides a little above the common, these marshes were under water; they were always swampy and covered with ponds; half a dozen tributary brooks flowed into them and were lost in them. They varied greatly in breadth, being generally much broader on the south side than on the north. On this side the higher land rose up abruptly{14} in a cliff or steep hill from twenty to five-and-thirty feet in height. The cliff, as we follow it from the east, approached the river, touched it at one point, and then receded again as it went westward. This point, where the cliff overhung the river, was the only possible place where the city could have been founded.

I call it a point, but it consisted of two hillocks, both about thirty-five feet high, standing on either side the little stream of Walbrook, where it flows into the Thames. On one of these hills, probably that on the west, was a small fortress of the Britons, constructed after the well-known fashion of hill forts, numberless examples of which remain scattered about the country. On the other hillock the Roman city, later on, was first commenced.


Here, at the beginning of the city, was instituted very early a ferry over the river. On the eastern hill the Romans built their forum and basilica, with the offices and official houses and quarters. When foreign trade began to increase, the merchants were obliged to spread themselves along the bank. They built quays and river-walls to keep out the water, and the city extended laterally to east and west, just as far as was convenient for the purposes of trade—that is, not farther than Fleet River on the west, and the present{15} site of the Tower on the east. It then began to spread northward, but very slowly, because a mile of river front can accommodate a great working population with a very narrow backing of houses. When the city wall was built, somewhere about the year 360, the town had already run out in villas and gardens as far north as that wall. Outside the wall there was nothing at all, unless one may count a few scattered villas on the south side of the river. There was as yet no Westminster, but in its place a broad and marshy heath spread over the whole area now covered by the City of Westminster, Millbank, St. James's Park, Chelsea, and as far west as Fulham. Beyond the wall on the north lay dreary, uncultivated plains, covered with fens and swamps, stretching from the walls to the lower slopes of the northern hills, and to the foot of an immense forest, as yet wholly untouched, afterwards called the Middlesex Forest. Fragments of this forest yet remain at Hampstead, Highgate, Epping, and Hainault. All through this period, therefore, and for long after, the City of London had a broad marsh lying on the south, another on the west, a third on the east, while on the north there stretched a barren, swampy moorland, followed by an immense impenetrable forest. Later on a portion of the land lying on the north-west, where is now Holborn, was cleared and cultivated. But this was later, when the Roman roads which led out of London ran high and broad over the marshes and the moors and through the forest primeval. The point to be remembered as connected with the marshes is this: Around most great towns there is found a broad belt of cultivated ground protected by the wall and the garrison.{16} Here the people grow for their own use their grain and their fruit, and pasture their beasts and their swine. London, alone among great cities, never had any such home farm until the marsh was reclaimed. The cattle, which were driven daily along the roads into the city, grazed on pastures in Essex farms, beyond the forest and the River Lea. The corn which filled her markets came down the river in barges from the inland country. All the supplies necessary for the daily food of the city were brought in from the country round. Should these supplies be cut off, London would be starved.


These supplies were very large indeed. As said above, we may set aside as extravagant the talk of a vast and multitudinous throng of people, as if the place was already a kind of Liverpool. Augusta never, certainly, approached the importance of Massilia, of Bordeaux, of Antioch, of Ephesus. Nor was Augusta greater than other English towns. The walls of York enclose as large an area as those of Roman London. The wall of Uriconium encloses an area nearly equal to that of Roman London. The area of Calleva (Silchester), a country town of no great importance, is nearly half as great as that of Roman London. But it was a large and populous city. How populous we cannot even approximately guess. Considering the extent of the wall, if that affords any help, we find, counting the river front, that the wall was two miles and three-quarters in length. This is a great length to defend. It is, however, certain that the town when walled must have contained a population strong enough to defend their wall. The Romans knew how to build in accordance with their{17} wants and their resources. If the wall was built three miles long, there were certainly defenders in proportion. Now, could so great a length be intrusted to a force less than 20,000? The defenders of the walls of Jerusalem, which, after the taking of the third wall, were very much less than two miles in extent, demanded at least 25,000 men, as Titus very well knew. Now, if every able-bodied man in London under the age of five-and-fifty were called out to fight, the population, on the assumption of 20,000 suitable men, would be about 70,000. If, on the other hand, the London citizens after the departure of the Romans could man their walls with only 10,000 men, they would have a population of about 35,000. Now, the daily needs of a population of only 35,000 are very considerable. We have, it is true, to supply food for 5,000,000, but the brain is incapable of comprehending figures and estimates of such vastness. One can better understand those which have to do with a population of 30,000 or 40,000. So much bread, so much{18} meat, so much wine, beer, and fruit. Where did all these things come from? Nothing, as I have said, from the immediate neighborhood; chiefly from Surrey and from Kent; a great deal from Essex; and the rest from the west country by means of the river.

London, therefore, with a population of not less than 35,000, and perhaps upwards of 70,000, stood in the midst of marshes—marshes everywhere—marshes all around except in the north; and there impenetrable forest. It depended wholly for its supplies, for its daily bread, for its existence, upon the country around.

In order to buy these supplies it depended upon its trade of import and export. It was the only port in the kingdom; it received the hides, the iron, and the slaves from inland and embarked them in the foreign keels; it received from abroad the silks, the spices, the wines, the ecclesiastical vestments, and all the articles of foreign luxury, and sent them about the country.

But this important place changed hands, somehow, without so much as a mention from the contemporary records; and while places like Bath, Gloucester, Cirencester, are recorded as being besieged and taken, no word is said of London, a place of far greater importance.

It has been suggested that the siege of London was not followed by a massacre as at Anderida, and that there was no great battle as at Chester; but that the place was quietly surrendered and the lives of the people spared. This is a thing absolutely impossible during these two centuries. The English invader did not make war in such a manner. If he attacked a{19} town and took it by assault he killed everybody who did not run away. That was his method: that was how he understood war. If he pushed out his invading arms he killed the occupants of the land, unless, which sometimes happened, they killed him, or, as more often happened, they ran away. But of making terms, sparing lives, suffering people to remain in peaceful occupation of their houses we hear nothing, because such a thing never happened until the close of the war, when victory was certain to one side and resistance was impossible to the other. Mercy was not as yet in the nature of Angle, Jute, or Saxon.

Suppose, however, that it did happen. Suppose that after that great rout of Craysford the victorious army had pushed forward and taken the city, or had accepted surrender in this peaceful nineteenth-century fashion, so entirely opposite to their received and customary method, what would have happened next?

Well, there would have been continuity of occupation. Most certainly and without doubt this continuity of occupation would have been proved by many signs, tokens, and survivals. For instance, the streets. The old streets would have remained in their former positions. Had they been burned down they would have been rebuilt as before. Nothing is more conservative and more slow to change than an old street. Where it is first laid out there it remains. The old lanes which formerly ran between gardens and at the back of houses, are still the narrow streets of the City. In their names the history of their origin remains. In Garlickhithe, Fyfoot Lane, Suffolk Lane, Tower Royal, Size Lane, Old Jewry, the Minories, and in a hundred other names, we have the identical mediæval{20} streets, with the identical names given to them from their position and their association. And this though fire after fire has burned them down, and since one fire at least destroyed most of them at a single effort. A Roman town was divided, like a modern American town, into square blocks—insulæ (islands) they were called. Where are the insulæ of London? There is not in the whole of London a single trace of the Roman street, if we except that little bit still called after the name given by the Saxons to a Roman road.

(From a photograph by W. H. Grove, 174 Brompton Road)

Again, continuity of occupation is illustrated by tradition. It is impossible for the traditions of the past to die out if the people continue. Nay, if the conqueror makes slaves of the former lords, and if they remain in their servitude for many generations, yet the traditions will not die. There are traditions{21} of these ancient times among the Welsh, but among the Londoners there are none. The Romans—the Roman power—the ferocity of Boadicea, the victorious march of Theodosius, the conversion of the country, the now forgotten saints and martyrs of London—these would have been remembered had there been continuity of occupation. But not a single trace remains.

Or, again, continuity of tenure is proved by the survival of customs. What Roman customs were ever observed in London? There is not a trace of any. Consider, however, the customs which still linger among the Tuscan, the Calabrian, and the Sicilian peasants. They are of ancient origin; they belong to the Roman time and earlier. But in London there has never been a custom or an observance in the least degree traceable to the Roman period.

Lastly, continuity of tenure is illustrated by the names of the people. Now, a careful analysis of the names found in the records of the fourteenth century has been made by Riley in his Memorials of London. We need not consider the surnames, which are all derived from occupation, or place of birth, or some physical peculiarity. The Christian names are for the most part of Norman origin; some are Saxon; none are Roman or British.

It has been advanced by some that the municipal government of the town is of Roman origin. If that were so, it would be through the interference of the Church. But it is not so. I believe that all who have considered the subject have now acknowledged that the municipal institutions of London have grown out of the customs of the English conquerors.{22}

To sum up, because this is very important. When in the seventh century we find the Saxons in the possession of the city there is no mention made of any siege, attack, capture, or surrender. When, a little later, we are able to read contemporary history, we find not a single custom or law due to the survival of British customs. We find the courses of the old streets entirely changed, the very memory of the streets swept away; not a single site left of any ancient building. Everything is clean gone. Not a voice, not a legend, not a story, not a superstition remains of the stately Augusta. It is entirely vanished, leaving nothing behind but a wall.

Loftie's opinion is thus summed up (London, vol. i., p. 54):

Roman evidences, rather negative, it is true, than positive to show that the East Saxons found London desolate, with broken walls, and a scanty population if any; that they entered on possession with no great feeling of exultation, after no great military feat deserving mention in these Chronicles; and that they retained it only just so long as the more powerful neighboring kings allowed them. This view is the only one which occurs to me to account for the few facts we have.

And that great antiquary Guest thinks that good reasons may be given for the belief that London for a while lay desolate and uninhabited.

The evidence seems to me positive rather than negative, and, in fact, conclusive. London, I am convinced, must—not may, but must—have remained for a time desolate and empty.


The evidence is before us, to me clear and unanswerable; it is furnished by the Chronicle of Conquest, coupled with the question of supplies. The{23} city could receive supplies from six approaches. One of these, called afterwards Watling Street, connected the city with the north and the west. It entered the walls at what became, later, Newgate. The second and third entered near the present Bishopsgate. One of these, Ermyn Street, led to the north-east, to Norfolk and Suffolk, the great peninsula, with fens on one side and the ocean on two other sides; the other, the Vicinal way, brought provisions and merchandise from Essex, then and long afterwards thought to be the garden of England. The bridge connected the city with the south, while the river itself was the highway between London and the fertile counties on either side the broad valley of the Thames. By these six ways there were brought into the city every day a continual supply of all the necessaries of life and all its luxuries. Along the roads plodded the pack-horses and the heavy, grinding carts; the oxen and the sheep and the pigs were driven to the market; barges floated down the stream laden with flour, and with butter, cheese, poultry, honey, bacon, beans, and lentils; and up the river there sailed with every flood the ships coming to exchange their butts of wine, their bales{24} of silk, their boxes of spice, for iron, skins, and slaves.

In this way London was fed and its people kept alive. In this way London has always been fed. The moorland and swamps all around continued far down in her history. Almost in the memory of man there were standing pools at Bankside, Lambeth, and Rotherhithe. It is not two hundred years since Moorfields were drained. Wild-fowl were shot on the low-lying lands of Westminster within the present century. The supplies came from without. They were continuous. It is impossible to keep in store more provisions—and those only of the most elementary kind—than will last for a short period. There may have been a city granary, but if the supplies were cut off, how long would its contents continue to feed a population, say, of thirty-five thousand?

Four points, in short, must be clearly understood:

(1) London was a port with a great trade, export and import. To carry on this trade she employed a very large number of men—slaves or free men.

(2) If she lost her trade her merchants were ruined, and her people lost their work and their livelihood.

(3) The lands immediately round London—beneath her walls—produced nothing. She was therefore wholly dependent on supplies from without.

(4) If these supplies failed, she was starved.

Now you have seen the testimony of history. The port of London closed by the ships of the Kentish and the Essex shores; communications with the country gradually cut off; first, with the south; next, with the east; then, by the river; lastly, by the one gate which still stood open, but led only into a country{25} ravaged by continual war, and overrun by an enemy who still pushed the Britons farther west. There was no longer any trade; that, indeed, began to languish in the middle of the fifth century; there were no longer either exports or imports. When there were no longer any supplies, what happened? What must have happened?

Let me consider the history from a contemporary Londoner's point of view. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is written from the conqueror's view; the prophecies of Gildas take the ecclesiastical line, that misfortunes fall upon a nation because of their wickedness, which is perfectly true if their wickedness leads them to cowardly surrender or flight, but not otherwise, or else the Saxons, whose wickedness, if you come to look at it, was really amazing, would themselves have been routed with great slaughter, and smitten hip and thigh. There are sins and sins. Those which do not corrupt a nation's valor do not cause a nation's fall.

This is what the man of London saw. It is a hitherto unpublished chapter from the Chronicle of a layman, a British citizen:

"The Legions left us. They had gone away before, but returned at our solicitations to drive back the Picts and Scots who overran the land (but reached not the walls of London). This done, they went away for good. And now, indeed, we understood that our long security was over, and that we must arise and defend ourselves, or meet with the fate that overtakes the weak and cowardly. They put up for us a wall before they went away, but the wall availed not long. No walls are of any avail unless there be valiant defenders behind. Then the enemy once more overran{26} the country. To them were joined pirates from Ireland. Thus the land of Britain seemed given over to destruction, especially in the North and West. The merchants who traded with these parts were now driven to sore straits, because no goods came to them from their friends, nor were those who were once wealthy able to purchase any more the luxuries which had formerly been their daily food. But in the lands east and south, and that part of the country lying east of the fenny country, the people were free from alarms, and feared nothing, being protected by the sea on one hand and the fens on the other; so that we in London looked on with disquiet, it is true, but not with alarm. Nay, the situation looked hopeful when our people, recovering their spirit, drove out the enemy, and once more sat down to cultivate the lands. For a few years there was peace, with plentiful harvests and security. Then our trade again revived, and so great was the quantity of corn, hides, iron, and tin which was brought to our ports and shipped for foreign countries that the old prosperity of Augusta seemed destined to be doubled and trebled. Many merchants there were—wise men and far-seeing—who taught that we should take advantage of this respite from the greed and malice of our enemies to imitate the Romans, and form legions of our own, adding that the island wanted nothing but security to become a great treasure-house or garden, producing all manner of fruit, grain, and cattle for the maintenance and enrichment of the people. This counsel, however, was neglected.

"Then there fell upon the country a plague which carried off an immense number. The priests said that{27} the plague, as well as the Pict and the Scot, came upon us as a visitation for our sins. That may be, though I believe our chief and greatest sin was that of foolishness in not providing for our own defence.

"Now we had long been troubled, even when the Count of the Saxon Shore guarded our coasts, by sudden descents of pirates upon our shores. These devils, who had fair hair and blue eyes, and were of greater stature than our own people, carried swords a yard long, and round wooden shields faced with leather. Some of them also had girdle daggers and long spears. They were extremely valiant, and, rushing upon their foes with shouts, generally bore them down and made them run. They seemed to know, being guided by the Evil One, what places were least defended and therefore most open to attack. Hither would they steer their keels, and landing, would snatch as much pillage as they could, and so sail home with loaded vessels, at sight of which their brothers and their cousins and all the ravenous crew hungered to join in the sport.

"In an evil moment, truly, for Britannia, our King invited these people to help in driving off the other enemies. They willingly acceded. So the lion willingly accepts the protection of the flock and drives off the wolves. This done, he devours the silly sheep. Not long after a rumor reached the Bridge that the Jutes had arrived in great numbers and were warring with the men of Cantia. This news greatly disquieted the City, not only because from that country, which was rich and populous, great quantities of food came to the City, with grain and hides for export, but also because the fleets on their way passed through{28} the narrow waters between Ruim, which the Jutes call the Isle of Thanet, and the main-land, on their way to Rutupiæ and thence across the sea to Gallia. The rumor was confirmed; and one day there came into the City across the Bridge, their arms having been thrown away, the defeated army, flying from the victorious Jutes. After this we learned every day of the capture and destruction of our rich ships in the narrow waters above-named, insomuch that we were forced to abandon this route and to attempt the stormy seas beyond the cliffs of Ruim; and the perils of our sailors were increased, with the risk of our merchants, insomuch that prayers were offered in all the churches; and those who divined and foretold the future, after the manner of the old times before the light of the Gospel shone upon us, came forth again and were consulted by many, especially by those who had ships to sail or expected ships to arrive. The priests continually reproached us with our sins and exhorted us to repentance, whereof nothing came, unless it were the safety of the souls of those who repented. But while one or two counselled again that we should imitate the Romans and form legions of our own, others were for making terms with the enemy, so that our trade might continue and the City should grow rich. In the end we did nothing. We did not repent, so far as I could learn, but who knows the human heart? So long as we could we continued to eat and drink of the best, and we formed no legions.

"Why should I delay? Still the invaders flocked over. Of one nation all came—men, women, and children—leaving a desert behind. In the year of our{29} Lord 500, the whole of the east and most of the south country were in the hands of this new people. Now this strange thing has been observed of them. They love not towns, and will not willingly dwell within walls for some reason connected with their diabolical religion; or perhaps because they suspect magic. Therefore, when they conquered the country, they occupied the lands indeed, and built thereon their farm-houses, but they left the towns deserted. When they took a place they utterly burned and destroyed it, and then they left it, so that at this day there are many once rich and flourishing towns which now stand desolate and deserted. For instance, the city and stronghold of Rutupiæ, once garrisoned by the Second Legion; this they took and destroyed. It is reported that its walls still stand, but it is quite deserted. So also Anderida, where they massacred every man, woman, and child, and then went away, leaving the houses in ashes and the dead to the wolves; and they say that Anderida still stands deserted. So, also, Calleva Atrebatum, which they also destroyed, and that, too, stands desolate. So, too, Durovernum, which they now call Cantwarabyrig. This they destroyed, and for many years it lay desolate, but is now, I learn, again peopled. So, too, alas! the great and glorious Augusta, which now lies empty, a city lone and widowed, which before was full of people.

"When Cantia fell to the Jutes we lost our trade with that fair and rich province. When the East Saxons and the Angles occupied the east country, and the South Saxons the south, trade was lost with all this region. Then the gates of the Vicinal Way and that of the Bridge were closed. Also the navigation{30} of the Lower Thames became full of danger. And the prosperity of Augusta daily declined. Still there stood open the great highway which led to the middle of Britannia and the north, and the river afforded a safe way for barges and for boats from the west. But the time came when these avenues were closed. For the Saxons stretched out envious hands from their seaboard settlements, and presently the whole of this rich country, where yet lived so many great and wealthy families, was exposed to all the miseries of war. The towns were destroyed, the farms ruined, the cattle driven away. Where was now the wealth of this famous province? It was gone. Where was the trade of Augusta? That, too, was gone. Nothing was brought to the port for export; the roads were closed; the river was closed; there was nothing, in fact, to send; nay, there were no more households to buy the things we formerly sent them. They lived now by the shore and in the recesses of the forest, who once lived in great villas, lay on silken pillows, and drank the wine of Gaul and Spain.

"Then we of the City saw plainly that our end was come; for not only there was no more trade, but there was no more food. The supplies had long been scanty, and food was dear; therefore those who could no longer buy food left the town, and sallied forth westward, hoping to find a place of safety, but many perished of cold, of hunger, and by sword of the enemy. Some who reached towns yet untaken joined the warriors, and received alternate defeat and victory, yet mostly the former.

"Still food became scarcer. The foreign merchants by this time had all gone away; our slaves deserted{31} us; the wharves stood desolate; a few ships without cargo or crew lay moored beside our quays; our churches were empty; silence reigned in the streets. Now, had the enemy attacked the City there would have been no resistance, but no enemy appeared. We were left alone—perhaps forgotten. The marshes and moors which surround the City on all sides became our protection. Augusta, to the invader, was invisible. And she was silent. Her enmity could do no harm, and her friendship could do no good. She was full of rich and precious things; the Basilica and the Forum, with the columns and the statues, stood in the midst; the houses contained pictures, books, baths, costly hangings; yet the Saxon wanted none of these things. The City contained no soldiers, and therefore he passed it by, or even forgot its existence.

"There came the day when no more provisions were left. Then those who were left, a scanty band, gathered in the Basilica, and it was resolved that we should leave the place, since we could no longer live in it. Some proposed to try escape by sea, some by land. I, with my wife and children, and others who agreed to accompany me, took what we could of food and of weapons, leaving behind us the houses where our lives had been so soft and happy, and went out by the western gate, and taking refuge where we could in the forest, we began our escape. Mostly we travelled by night; we passed burning towns and flaming farmsteads; we encountered hapless fugitives more naked and miserable than ourselves. But finally we arrived in safety at the town of Glevum, where we have found shelter and repose.

"Every year our people are driven westward more{32} and more. There seems no frontier that will stop them. My sons have fallen in battle; my daughters have lost their husbands; my grandchildren are taught to look for nothing but continual war. Should they succeed in reaching our City, the old will perish; but the young may take flight across the river Sabrina, and even among the mountains of the West—their last place of flight. Should they be driven from the hills, it will be into the sea. And of Augusta have I learned nothing for many years. Wherefore am I sure that it remains desolate and deserted to this day."


The writer of this journal, most valuable and interesting—even unique—was not quite right. Not all the inhabitants of Augusta went away. In the city a remnant was left—there is always a remnant. Some of them were slaves. All of them were of the baser sort, whose safety, when cities are taken by assault and massacres are abroad, lies in their abject poverty and in the dens wherein they crouch. These remained; there were not many of them, because hunger had already driven away most. When the rest were gone they came out of their holes and looked about{33} them, irresolute. Seeing no enemy, they hastily shut and barred the city gates and sat down fearful. But days passed, and no attack was made upon them. Then they began to take courage, and they presently bethought them that the whole town was their own to plunder and to pillage. They began, therefore, with great joy to collect together the things which the people had been unable to carry with them—the sacred vessels from the churches and the rich embroidered robes of silk worn by the priests. They found soft stuffs in the villas, with which they wrapped themselves; they found curtains, rich hangings, pillows, cushions, carpets—all of which they took. The carved work and statues, books, pictures, and things which they understood not they broke in pieces or burned. They carried off their plunder to the houses on the river-side—the quarter which they chose as handy to their boats in case of an alarm and convenient for fishing—on which they now placed their chief reliance for food. When they found that no one molested them they ventured out into the Northern forest, where they trapped the deer and the boar. Their thin veneer of civilization was speedily lost: when they had used up all the fine clothes, when they had burned up all the wood-work in the place, when the roofs of their houses fell in, they went back to quite the ancient manner; they made a circular hut with a fire in the middle of it, around which they crouched. They had no more blankets and woollen cloaks, but they did very well with a wild beast's skin for dress. Their religion slipped away and was forgotten; indeed, that was the first thing to go. But, which was strange, they had not even kept the remembrance of{34} their ancestors' worship. If they had any religion at all, it was marked by cruel sacrifices to a malignant unseen being.

By this time nothing remained of the old houses but their walls, and these, disintegrated by frost and rain, were mostly ready to fall; the gardens of the villas, the beautiful gardens in which their owners took so much delight, were choked and overgrown with nettles and brambles; the mosaic pavements were covered up with rubbish and mould.

ROMAN KEYS (Guildhall) ROMAN KEYS (Guildhall)

How long did this go on? For fifty years or more. The rude survivors of Augusta and their children lived neglected and forgotten, like the Arabs in the ruins of Palmyra. Outside they knew that a fierce enemy roamed the country; sometimes they could see a band of them on the southern bank gazing curiously at the silent and deserted walls of the City. But these warriors cared nothing for cities, and shuddered,{35} suspecting magic at the sight of the gray wall, and went away again.

One day, however, because nothing remains always undiscovered, there came along the great Vicinal Way so tough and strong, on which the tooth of Time gnawed in vain, a troop of East Saxons. They were an offshoot, a late arrival, a small colony looking about if haply they could find or conquer a convenient place of settlement not yet held by their own people. They marched along the road, and presently saw before them the gray walls of the City, with its gates and bastions. It was a city of which they had heard—once full of people, now, like so many others, a waste chester. It was of no use to them; they wanted a place convenient for farming, not a place encumbered with ruins of houses; a place where they could set up their village community and grow their crops and keep their cattle. The first rush and fury of battle were now over. The East Saxons were at peace, the enemy being either driven away or killed. A single generation of comfort and prosperity had made the people milder in temper. They desired no longer to fight and slay. What, however, if they were to visit the City?


The gate was closed. They blew their horns and called upon the people, if there were any, to surrender. There was no answer. No arrow was shot from the walls, not a stone was thrown, not a head was seen upon the bastion. Then they plied their axes upon the crumbling wood until the gate gave way and fell backward with a crash. Shouting, the men of Essex ran forward. But they soon ceased to shout. Within they found a deserted city; the walls of what had{36} been stately villas stood in broad gardens, but the houses were roofless, the pictured pavements were broken or covered up, the fountains were choked, the walls were tottering. The astonished warriors pressed forward. The ruined villas gave way to crumbling remains of smaller houses standing close together. The streets showed signs of traffic in deep ruts worn by the cart-wheels. Grass grew between the stones. Here and there stood buildings larger than the houses; they, too, were roofless, but over the lintels were carved certain curious emblems—crosses and palm-branches, lambs, vine leaves, and even fish—the meaning of which they understood not. Then the men reached the river-side. Here there had also been a wall, but much of it was broken down; and here they found certain circular huts thatched. Within, the fire was still burning in the middle of the hut. There{37} were signs of hurried departure—the fish was still in the frying-pan, the bed of dried leaves still warm. Where were the people?

They were gone. They had fled in affright. When they heard the shouts of the Saxons, they gathered together their weapons and such things as they could carry, and they fled. They passed out by the gate of that road which their conquerors afterwards called Watling Street. Outside the City they turned northward, and plunged for safety into the pathless forest, whither the enemy would not follow.

When these Saxons found that the walled area contained nothing that was of the least use to them they simply went away. They left it quite alone, as they left the places which they called Pevensey, Silchester, Porchester, and Richborough, and as they left many other waste chesters.

Then Augusta lay silent and dead for a space.

Presently the fugitives crept back and resumed their old life among the ruins and died peacefully, and were followed by their children.

How, then, did London get settled again?

The times became peaceful: the tide of warfare rolled westward; there were no more ships crossing with fresh invaders; there were no more pirates hovering about the broad reaches of the Lower Thames. The country round London on all sides—north, south, east, and west—was settled and in tranquillity. The river was safe. Then a few merchants, finding that the way was open, timidly ventured up the river with wares such as might tempt those fair-haired savages. They went to the port of which the memory survived. No one disputed with them the possession of the{38} grass-grown quays; there were no people, there was no market, there were no buyers. They then sent messengers to the nearest settlements; these—the first commercial travellers, the first gentlemen of the road—showed spear-heads of the finest, swords of the stoutest, beautiful helmets and fine shields, all to be had in exchange for wool and hides. The people learned to trade, and London began to revive. The rustics saw things that tempted them; new wants, new desires were created in their minds. Some of them went into the town and admired its life, how busy it was, how full of companionship; and they thought with pity of the quiet country life and the long days all alone in the fields; they desired to stay there; others saw the beauty of the arts, and were attracted by natural aptitude to learn and practise them. Others, quicker witted than the rest, perceived how by trade a man may live without his own handiwork and by the labor of his brother man. No discovery ever was made more important to the world than this great fact. "You, my brother," said this discoverer, "shall continue to dig and to toil, in hot weather or cold; your limbs shall stiffen and your back shall be bent; I, for my part, will take your work and sell it in places where it is wanted. My shoulders will not grow round, nor will my back be bent. On the contrary, I shall walk jocund and erect, with a laughing eye and a dancing leg, when you are long past laugh or saraband. It is an excellent division of labor. To me the market, where I shall sit at ease chaffering with my wares and jesting with my fellows and feasting at night. To you the plough and the sickle and the flail. An excellent division."{39}

Then more merchants came, and yet more merchants, and the people began to flock in from the country as they do now; and London—Augusta being dead—set her children to work, making some rich, for an example and a stimulus—else no one would work—and keeping the many poor—else there would be no chance for the few to get rich. And she has kept them at work ever since. So that it came to pass when Bishop Mellitus, first of the bishops of London, came to his diocese in the year 604, he found it once more a market and a port with a goodly trade and a crowd of ships and a new people, proud, turbulent, and independent.

So began and so grew modern London.


To the old Rome it owes nothing, not so much as a tradition. Later, when another kind of influence began, London learned much and took much from Rome; but from Augusta—from Roman London—nothing. Roman traditions, Roman speech, Roman superstitions linger yet among the southern Spaniards,{40} though the Moor conquered and held the country for six hundred years. They linger, in spite of many conquests, in France, in Italy (north and south), in Roumania, in Anatolia. In London alone, of all the places which Imperial Rome made her own, and kept for hundreds of years, no trace of ancient Rome remains. When London next hears of the Eternal City it is Rome of the Christian Church.

Compare the conquest of London by the men of Essex with that of Jerusalem by Titus. The latter conqueror utterly destroyed the city, and drove out its people. One might have expected the silence of Silchester or Pevensey. No, the people crept back by degrees; the old traditions remained and still remain. Behind the monkish sites are those familiar to the common people. Here is the old place of execution—the monks knew nothing of that—here is the valley of Hinnom; here that of Kedron. These memories have not died. But of the old Augusta nothing at all remains. Not a single tradition was preserved by the scanty remnant of slaves which survived the conquest; not a single name survives. All the streets have been renamed—nay, their very course has been changed. The literature of the City, which, like Bordeaux, had its poets and its schools of rhetoric, has disappeared; it has vanished as completely as that of Carthage. All the memories of four hundred years have gone; there is nothing left but a few fragments of the old wall, and these seem to contain but little of the Roman work: an old bath, part of the course of an ancient street, and the fragment which we call London Stone. Perhaps some portions of the Roman river-wall have been unearthed, but this is uncertain.{41}

One fact alone has been considered to suggest that some of the old Roman buildings remained and were used again for their old purposes.


In the oldest part of the City, that which lies along the river-bank, the churches are mostly dedicated to the apostles. Those which stand farther inland are dedicated to local and later saints—St. Dunstan, St. Botolph, St. Osyth, St. Ethelburga, for instance. But among those along the river are the churches of St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Mary, St. Stephen, St. Michael. It is therefore suggested, but with hesitation, that when the East Saxons took possession they found the Roman basilicas still standing; that when they became converted they learned the original purpose of their churches and the meaning of the emblems; that they proceeded to rebuild them, preserving their dedications, and made them their own churches. This may be so, but I do not think it at all likely. It is possible, I say, but not probable.{42}

You have heard the story how Augusta disappeared, and how the East Saxons found it deserted, and how London was born, not the daughter of Augusta at all. Augusta was childless.


The principal Roman buildings consisted of a bridge, a wall, a fort at either end of this bridge, and two ports—Queenhithe and Billingsgate. No one knows when the bridge was built: the wall was not erected until some time between A.D. 350 and A.D. 369. At that time the area enclosed by the wall was covered with villas and gardens. The wall has been traced with certainty, and portions either of the original wall or the mediæval repairs have been found in many places, and may still be seen above-ground. The Roman remains which have been dug up consist of mosaic pavements, sepulchral cists, keys, toilet articles, lamps, fibulæ, amphoræ, domestic things, and a few bronze statuettes. Nothing whatever has been found to show that Augusta was ever a great city, in the sense that Massilia, Ephesus, Bordeaux, or Alexandria was great.


[1] See The Two Lost Centuries of Britain, by W. H. Babcock. Lippincott, Philadelphia, 1890; an excellent little work on this subject.




The citizens of New London—Augusta having thus perished—-were from the outset a people of mixed race. But the Saxons, and especially the East Saxons, prevailed. Strangely, it is Essex which has always prevailed in London. The modern Cockney dialect, which says "laidy" and "baiby" for lady and baby, and "whoy" and "hoigh" for why and high, is pure Essex: you can hear it spoken all over the country districts of that little-visited county: it is a dialect so strong that it destroys all other fashions of speech, even the burr of Cumberland and the broad drawl of Devonshire. Saxon London was mainly East Saxon. But, besides the new owners of London, there was, first of all, some remnant of the scattered Welsh. I do not mean the miserable survivors of Augustan London, found in the place when it was first entered, but those Britons who had taken refuge in the forests of Surrey, Sussex, and Middlesex, and there lived as they could, until they could safely venture forth among their conquerors. Gildas, as we have seen, speaks of these people; and their skulls remain in the Saxon cemeteries to prove how great a Celtic element{44} survived among the English conquerors. Next, there were the foreign merchants. This class formed a considerable proportion of the better class; and it grew larger every day, because the East Saxon was certainly not so sharp in affairs as the "man of Rouen;" nor was he in business capacity equal to the Fleming and the German. But as happens, mutatis mutandis, at the present day, those who were Flemings and the men of Rouen, speaking their own language, under Ethelred, had all become Londoners, speaking the English tongue, under Henry Beauclerk.

It was, indeed, a complete revolution in his manners and customs for the East Saxon when he exchanged his village community for a walled town. Consider: at first he lived retired in the country, farming and cattle-breeding, banded with other families for safety; he kept up the customs of his fatherland, he carried on no trade, he suffered the old towns to fall into ruin; his kinglet had no capital, but roamed about from place to place, administering justice in the royal wagon; he enjoyed a ferocious and blood-thirsty religion suiting his savage disposition; he knew only the simplest arts; he could till the ground, grind his corn, brew beer and mead, and work a little in metals; his women could spin; he knew no letters; he looked for nothing better than ever-recurring war, with intervals of peace and feasting; to die on a battle-field was an enviable lot, because it carried him away to everlasting happiness. Look at the same man four hundred years later. He is now a Christian; he is, in a way, a scholar; he is an architect, an artist, an illuminator, a musician, a law-maker, a diplomatist, an artificer, a caster of bells, a worker in gold and silver;{45} he carries on fisheries; he is a merchant; he builds ships; he founds trade-guilds—he is as far removed from the fierce warrior who leaped ashore at Thanet as the Romano-Briton whom he conquered was removed from the naked savage who opposed the arms of Cæsar.

The difference is chiefly due to his conversion. This has brought him under the influence of Rome Ecclesiastic. It has educated him, turned him into a townsman, and made growth possible for him. No growth is possible for any race until it first accepts the creed of civilization.


London was converted in A.D. 604. This was a hasty and incomplete conversion, executed to order; for the citizens speedily relapsed. Then they were again converted, and in sober earnest put away their old gods, keeping only a few of the more favorite superstitions; some of these remain still with us. They were so thoroughly converted that the city of London become a veritable mother of saints. There was the venerable Erkenwald, saint and bishop, he who built Bishopsgate on the site of the old Roman gate. There was St. Ethelburga, the wife of Sebert, the first Christian king; her church still stands, though not the earliest building, close beside the site of the old gate. There was St. Osyth, queen and martyr, the{46} mother of King Offa; her name also survives in Size, or St. Osyth's, Lane, but the Church of St. Osyth was rededicated to St. Ben'et Sherehog (Benedict Skin-the-Pig); you may see the little old church-yard still, black and grimy, surrounded on three sides by tall houses. English piety loved to dedicate churches to English saints—more likely these than Italian or French—to look after the national interests. Thus there were in London churches dedicated to St. Dunstan, St. Swithin, St. Botolph (whose affection for the citizens was so well known that it was recognized by four churches), St. Edmund the Martyr, and, later on, when the Danes got their turn, churches to St. Olaf and St. Magnus.

The Englishman, thus converted, was received into the company of civilized nations. Scholars came across the Channel to teach him Latin, monks came to teach him the life of self-sacrifice, obedience, submission, and abstinence. The monastery reared its humble walls everywhere; the first foundation of the first bishop of London was a monastery. In times of war between the kinglets—when were there no wars?—the monasteries, after the whole country had been converted, were spared. Therefore the people settled around them, and enjoyed their protection. The monastery towns grew rapidly and prospered. New arts were introduced and taught by the monks, new ideas sprang up among the people, new wants were created. Moreover, intercourse began with other nations—the ecclesiastic who journeyed to Rome took with him a goodly troop of priests, monks, and laymen; they saw strange lands and observed strange customs. Some of them learned foreign languages, and even made friendships{47} with the men who spoke them, discovering that a man who speaks another tongue is not necessarily an enemy. The Englishman was changed; yet he remained still, as he always does, whether he creates a new empire in America, or one in Australia, always an Englishman.

Meantime the kinglets made war with each other, and London became a prize for each in turn. It passed from the East Saxon to the Northumbrian, to the Mercian, to the West Saxon, as the hegemony passed from one to the other. Each kinglet learned more and more to recognize its importance and its value. One of the oldest civic documents extant is a grant of King Ethelbald to the Bishop of Rochester. He gives him the right of passing one ship of his own, or of another's, free of toll into the port of London. The toll of incoming and outgoing vessels formed, therefore, part of the royal revenue.

The history of London between A.D. 600 and the Norman Conquest is the history of England. How the City fell into the hands of the Danes, how it was finally secured by Alfred, how the Danes again obtained the City without fighting, and how the Norman was received in peace, belong to history. All this time London was steadily growing. Whatever king sat on the throne, her trade increased, and her wealth.

The buildings, till long after the Norman Conquest, were small and mean: the better houses were timber frames, with shutters or lattices, but no glass for the windows; the poorer houses were of wattle and daub. The churches were numerous and small. Some of them were still of wood, though a few were built of stone, with the simple circular arch. The first church{48} of St. Paul's was destroyed by fire, a fate which awaited the second and the third. By the time of Edward the Confessor the second church was completed; but of this church we have no record whatever. The Saxon period, as concerns London, is the darkest of any. You may see at the Guildhall nearly everything that remains of Roman London. But there is nothing, absolutely not one single stone, to illustrate Saxon London. The city which grew up over the deserted Augusta and flourished for four hundred years has entirely disappeared. Nothing is left of it at all. The chief destroyer of Saxon London was the great fire of 1135, which swept London from end to end as effectually as that of 1666. Had it not been for these two fires, we should very likely have still standing one or two of the sturdy little Saxon churches of which the country yet affords one surviving example. Yet London is not alone in having no monuments of this period. If we take any other town, what remains in it of the years A.D. 600-1000? What is left in Rome to mark the reigns of the eighty Popes who fill that period? What in Paris to illustrate the rule of the Carlovingians? Fire and the piety of successive generations have destroyed all the buildings.

For outside show the city of Edward the Confessor and that of the second Henry were very nearly the same, and so may be treated together. The churches burned down in 1135 were rebuilt in stone, but the houses presented much the same appearance. Now, everybody who speaks of Norman London must needs speak of William Fitz Stephen. He is our only authority; all that we can do is to make commentaries and guesses based on the text of Fitz Stephen.{49}


He was a clerk in the service of Thomas à Becket; he was present at the archbishop's murder; he wrote a Life of the saint, to which he prefixed, by happy inspiration, a brief eulogy of the City of London. It is far too brief, but it contains facts of the most priceless importance. London, we learn, possessed, besides its great cathedral, thirteen large conventual churches and one hundred and twenty-six parish churches. The White Tower was already built on the east side; the walls of the City, now kept in good repair, encircled it on all sides except the river; here the wall which had formerly defended the river front had been taken down to make way for warehouses and quays; the Royal Palace stood without the City, but connected with it by a populous suburb. Those who lived "in the suburbs"—that is, about Chancery Lane and Holborn—had spacious and beautiful gardens; there were also on this side pasture and meadow lands, with streams and water-mills; beyond the pastures was a great forest filled with wild creatures; many springs of water rose on the north side. The City was so populous that of those who went out to a muster, 20,000 were chosen as horsemen and 60,000 for the foot. We will discuss the question of population later on. Meantime one may remark that a force{50} of 80,000 always ready to be called out means a population of 320,000 at least, which is indeed absurd, especially when we consider that the population of London, as shown by the poll-tax of Richard II., was only about 40,000.

There were three principal schools, but sometimes other schools were opened "by favor and permission." We are not told what schools these were; but there was always a school of some kind attached to every monastery and nunnery. The boys were taught Latin verse, grammar, and rhetoric; they disputed with each other in the churches on feast-days, especially about the "principles of grammar, and the rules of the past and future tenses"—truly, an agreeable pastime.

The different trades of the City were allotted their own places of work and sale. Fitz Stephen does not name the various quarters, but they can be easily ascertained from Stow, though the place assigned to each was sometimes changed. Thus, the chief market and trading-place of the City was always Cheap, a broad, open place with booths and sheds for the exposure of wares, on the north and south. The names of the streets leading out of Cheap indicate the trades that were carried on in them. The streets called Wood, Milk, Iron, Honey, Poultry, mark the site of certain markets on the north. Those named after Bread, Candles, Soap, Fish, Money-changing, are shown on the south. Along the rivers were breweries, of which one remains to this day; artificers of various kinds were gathered together in their own streets about the town. This custom of congregation was useful in more ways than one: it gave dignity to the craft and inspired self-respect for the craftsmen, it kept up{51} the standard of good work, it made craftsmen regard each other as brethren, not as enemies; it gave them guilds, of which our trades-unions, which think of nothing but wages, are the degenerate successors; and it brought each trade under the salutary rule of the Church.

There was then—there has always been—a great plenty of food in the city of London; on the river-bank, among the vintners, there were eating-houses where at all times of the day and every day there were cooked and sold meat and fish and every kind of food. Once a week, on Friday, there was a horse-fair in Smithfield without the walls; at this fair there were races every week.

The young men of the City were greatly addicted to sports of all kinds: they skated in winter, they tilted on the water and on land, they fought, wrestled, practised archery, danced, and sang. They were a turbulent, courageous, free and independent youth, proud of their city and its wealth, proud of their power and their freedom, proud of the trade which came to their quays from every part of the world. What says Fitz Stephen?

"Aurum mittit Arabs: species et thura Sabæus:
Arma Scythes: oleum palmarum divite sylva
Pingue solum Babylon: Nilus lapides pretiosos:
Norwegi, Russi, varium grisum, sabelinas:
Seres, purpureas vestes: Galli, sua vina."

The good cleric is a little mixed in his geography. The Arabs certainly had no gold to send; the Sabæans were, however, Arabs of Saba, in Arabia Felix: they sent myrrh and frankincense; spices came from another country. Why does he assign arms to the{52} Scythians? Egypt had turquoise mines, but no other precious stones. The purple garments of the Seres, or Chinaman, are silks. Norway and Russia still send sables and other furs, and France, happily, still sends claret.

The city (Fitz Stephen adds), like Rome, is divided into wards, has annual sheriffs for its consuls, has senatorial and lower magistrates, sewers and aqueducts in its streets—its proper places and separate courts for cases of each kind, deliberative, demonstrative, judicial—and has assemblies on appointed days. I do not think there is a city with more commendable customs of church attendance, honor to God's ordinances, keeping sacred festivals, almsgiving, hospitality, confirming betrothals, contracting marriages, celebration of nuptials, preparing feasts, cheering the guests, and also in care for funerals and the interment of the dead. The only pests of London are the immoderate drinking of fools, and the frequency of fires. To this may be added that nearly all the Bishops, Abbots, and Magnates of England are, as it were, citizens and freemen of London, having their own splendid houses to which they resort, where they spend largely when summoned to great Councils by the King or by their Metropolitan, or drawn thither by their own private affairs.

A noble picture of a noble city!


Let us consider the monuments of the City. There remains of Saxon London nothing. Of Norman London, the great White Tower, the crypt of Bow, the crypt of St. John's Priory (outside the City), part of{53} the church of Bartholomew the Great, part of St. Ethelburga's, Bishopsgate; there is nothing more.[2]

The cathedral of St. Paul's when Fitz Stephen wrote was slowly rising from its ashes. It had been already twice destroyed by fire. First, the church founded by Mellitus and beautified by Bishop Cedd and King Sebbi was burned to the ground in the year 961. We know nothing at all of this building or of its successor, which was destroyed in the year 1086. Bishop Maurice began to rebuild the church in the following year, but it was two hundred years before it was completed. This cathedral therefore belongs to a later period. That which was destroyed in 1084 must have resembled in its round arches and thick pillars the cathedral of Durham.

The church and the various buildings which belonged to it in the reign of Henry I. were surrounded by a wall. This wall included the whole area now known as St. Paul's Church-yard, and as far as Paternoster Row on the north side. There were six gates to the wall; the sites of two are preserved in the names of St. Paul's Alley and Paul's Chain. The Bishop's Palace was on the north-west corner; the chapter-house was on the south side of the church; on the north was a charnel-house and a chapel over it; close beside this was a small enclosure called Pardon Church-yard, where a chapel was founded by Gilbert à Becket, the saint's father. This enclosure was afterwards converted into a beautiful cloister, painted with a Dance of Death, called the Dance of St. Paul's.{54} Close beside Pardon Church-yard was the chapel of Jesus, serving for the parish church of St. Faith until the chapel was destroyed, when the parish obtained the crypt for its church. St. Faith's is now coupled with St. Augustine's.


Of the thirteen large conventual churches mentioned by Fitz Stephen, we may draw up a tolerably complete list: St. Martin-le-Grand, St. Katherine's by the Tower, St. Mary Overies, Holy Trinity Priory, St. Bartholomew's Priory, St. Giles's Hospital, St. Mary of Bethlehem, the priory of St. John of Jerusalem,{55} the nunnery afterwards turned into Elsing's Spital, the nunnery of St. John Baptist, Hollywell, the nunnery of Clerkenwell, the new Temple in Fleet Street, and the old Temple in Holborn, perhaps make up the thirteen. I cannot believe that Fitz Stephen could have included either Barking Abbey or Merton Abbey in his list.

The most ancient monastic foundation, next to that of St. Paul's, was St. Martin's House or College. Why St. Martin was so popular in this country, which had so many saints of her own, is not easily intelligible. Perhaps the story of the partition of the cloak at the gate of Amiens, while the saint was still a soldier, struck the imagination of the people. Certainly the saint's austerities at Ligujé would not attract the world. In London alone there were the church of St. Martin's, Ludgate Hill, said to have been founded in very early Saxon times, that of St. Martin's Outwich, of St. Martin Orgar, St. Martin Pomary, and St. Martin Vintry—five parish churches to attest his sanctity and his popularity.

St. Martin-le-Grand, sanctuary and collegiate church, was a Liberty to itself. Here criminals found safety and could not be arrested, a privilege which lasted long after the dissolution of the religious houses. Among the deans of St. Martin's was William of Wykeham.

One church only of the whole thirteen still stands. Part of the present church of St. Bartholomew the Great is that actually built by Rahere, the first founder, in the beginning of the twelfth century.

The story of Rahere is interesting but incomplete, and involved in many difficulties. He is variously said{56} to have been the king's minstrel, the king's jester, a knight of good family, and a man of low origin, who haunted great men's tables and made them laugh—nothing less than the comic person of the period, entirely given over to the pleasures of the world. In short, the customary profligate, who presently saw the error of his ways, and was converted. The last statement is quite possible, because, as is well known, there was at this time a considerable revival of religion. The story goes on to say that, being penitent, Rahere went on a pilgrimage. Nothing more likely. At this time, going on pilgrimage offered attractions irresistible to many men. It was a most agreeable way of proving one's repentance, showing a contrite heart, and procuring absolution. It also enabled the penitent to see the world, and to get a beneficial change of air, food, and friends. There were dangers on the way: they lent excitement to the journey; robbers waylaid those of the pilgrims who had any money; fevers struck them low; if they marched through the lands of the infidel, they were often attacked and stripped, if not slain; the plains of Asia Minor were white with the bones of those cut off on their way to the Holy Land. But think of the joy, to one of an inquiring and curious mind who had never before been beyond sight of the gray old London walls, to be travelling in a country where everything was new—the speech, the food, the wine, the customs, the dress—with a goodly company, the length of the road beguiled by pleasant talk! Everybody pilgrimized who could, even the poorest and the lowest. The poorest could go as well as the richest, because the pilgrim wanted no money—he would start{57} upon his tramp with an empty scrip. Such an one had naught to lose, and feared no robbers; he received bed and supper every night at some monastery, and was despatched in the morning after a solid breakfast.{58} When he at length arrived at the shrine for which he was bound, he repeated the prayers ordered, performed the necessary crawlings, and heard the necessary masses; he then returned home, his soul purified, his sins forgiven, his salvation assured, and his memory charged with good stories for the rest of his life. The English pilgrim fared sometimes to Walsingham, sometimes to Canterbury, sometimes farther afield. He journeyed on foot through France and Italy to Rome; he even tramped all across Europe and Asia Minor, if he could be received in some great company guarded by the knights of St. John to the Holy Land. The roads in the eleventh and twelfth centuries were covered with pilgrims; the Mediterranean was black with ships going from Marseilles, from Genoa, from Naples, to the port of St. Jean d'Acre. Even the rustic, discovering that he, too, simple and unlettered as he was, had a soul to be saved, and that it would be better not to trust altogether to the last offices of the parish priest, threw down his spade, deserted his wife and his children, and went off on pilgrimage. At last the bishops interfered, and enjoined that no one should be considered and received as a pilgrim who could not produce an episcopal license. It was no longer enough for a man to get repentance in order to get the run of the road and of his teeth; and, since the episcopal license was not granted to everybody, the rustics had to fall back on what the parish church afforded, and have ever since been contented with her advice and authority.


There was an Office of Pilgrims, which was to be rendered in the following fashion:{59}

Two of the second stall, who may be put in the table at the pleasure of the writer, shall be clothed in a Tunic, with copes above, carrying staves across, and scrips in the manner of Pilgrims; and they shall have cappelli[3] over their heads, and be bearded. Let them go from the Vestiary, singing a hymn, "Jesus, our redemption," advancing with a slow step, through the right aisle of the Church, as far as the Western gates, and there stopping, sing a hymn as far as that place, "You shall be satisfied with my likeness." Then a certain Priest of the higher stall, written in the table, clothed in an Alb and Amess, barefooted, carrying a cross upon his right shoulder, with a look cast downward, coming to them through the right aisle of the Church, shall suddenly stand between them, and say, "What are these discourses?" The Pilgrims, as it were, admiring and looking upon him, shall say, "Are you a stranger?" etc. The Priest shall answer, "In what city?" The Pilgrims shall answer, "Of Jesus of Nazareth." The Priest, looking upon both of them, shall say, "O fools, and slow of heart," which being said, the Priest immediately shall retire, and pretend to be going farther; but the Pilgrims hurrying up, and following him, shall detain him, as it were, inviting him to their inn, and drawing him with their staves, shall show him a castle and say, "Stay with us." And so singing they shall lead him as far as a tent in the middle of the nave of the Church, made in the resemblance of the Castle Emmaus. When they have ascended thither, and sat at a table ready prepared, the Lord sitting between them shall break the bread; and being discovered by this means, shall suddenly retire, and vanish from their sight. But they, amazed as it were, rising, with their countenances turned to each other, shall sing lamentably "Alleluia," with the verse, "Did not our heart burn," etc., which being renewed, turning themselves towards the stall, they shall sing this verse, "Tell us, Mary." Then a certain person of the higher stall, clothed in a Dalmatick and Amess, and bound round in the manner of a woman, shall answer, "The Sepulchre of Christ; the Angels are witnesses." Then he shall extend and unfold{60} a cloth from one part, instead of clothes, and throw it before the great gate of the Choir. Afterwards he shall say, "Christ is risen." The Choir shall sing two other verses, following, and then the Master shall go within; a procession be made; and Vespers be ended.[4]

There was also a Consecration of Pilgrims, as follows:

The Pilgrims first confessed all their sins, after which they lay prostrate before the Altar. Particular prayers and psalms were then said over them, and after every psalm (with manifest skilful appropriation) the Gloria Patri; the Psalm, Ad te, Domine, levavi; and the Miserere. At the end of these, the Pilgrims arose from their prostrate position, and the Priest consecrated their scrips and staves, saying, "The Lord be with you," and "let us pray," etc. He next sprinkled holy water upon their scrips and staves, and placed the scrip around the neck of each pilgrim, with other religious services. Afterwards he delivered to them the staff with similar prayers. If any of the Pilgrims were going to Jerusalem, their garments were in readiness, marked with the cross, and the crosses were consecrated, and holy water sprinkled over them. The garments and crosses were then delivered to the Pilgrims, accompanied by appropriate prayers. The service concluded with the Mass De Iter Agentibus.[5]


Rahere, therefore, among the rest, pilgrimized to Rome. Now it happened that on the way, either going or returning, he fell grievously sick and was like to die. As medical science in those days commanded but small confidence, men naturally turned to the saints, and besieged them with petitions for renewed health. Rahere betook himself to St. Bartholomew, to whom he promised a hospital for poor men should he recover. Most fortunately for London, St. Bartholomew{63} graciously accepted the proposal, and cured the pilgrim. Rahere therefore returned: he chose the site, and was about to build the hospital, when the saint appeared to him and ordered him to found, as well, a church. Rahere promised. He even went beyond his promise: he founded his hospital of St. Bartholomew, which still exists, a perennial fountain of life and health, and, besides this, a priory for canons regular, and a church for the priory. The church still stands, one of the most noble monuments in London. One Alfune, who had founded the church of St. Giles Cripplegate, became the first Hospitaller, going every day to the shambles to beg for meat for the sick poor. Rahere became the first prior of his own foundation, and now lies buried in his church within a splendid tomb called after his name, but of fifteenth-century work.

The mysterious part of the story is how Rahere, a simple gentleman, if not a jester, was able to raise this splendid structure and to found so noble a hospital. For, even supposing the hospital and priory to have been at first small and insignificant, the church itself remains, a monument of lavish and pious beneficence. The story, in order to account for the building of so great a church, goes off into a drivelling account of how Rahere feigned to be a simple idiot.

A great many people every year visit this noble church, now partly restored. Very few of them take the trouble to step round to the back of the church. Yet there are one or two things worth noting in that nest of low courts and squalid streets. Cloth Fair, for instance, still possesses a few of its old timbered and gabled houses. But on the other side a small{64} portion of the old monastery church-yard yet remains, and, in a row of two or three cottages, each with a tiny garden in front: a cottage-garden close to Smithfield—survives a memory of the garden which once stretched over this monastery court.


Some of the other foundations enumerated were only recently founded when Fitz Stephen wrote, and rightly belong to Plantagenet London. But the noble foundation of the Holy Trinity, Aldgate, was due{65} to Matilda, queen of Henry I., who also founded St. Giles's Hospital, beside St. Giles-in-the-Fields. And the priory of St. John of Jerusalem, the chief seat in England of the Knights Hospitallers, was founded in the year 1100, by Jordan Briset, and Muriel, his wife.


St. Katherine's by the Tower was first founded by Matilda, wife of King Stephen. This, the most interesting of all the city foundations, has survived, in degraded form, to the present day. Its appearance when it was pulled down, sixty years ago, and as it is figured, was very much unlike the original foundation by Queen Matilda. Yet the life of this old place had been continuous. For seven hundred years it remained on the spot where it was first established. Matilda first founded St. Katherine's, as a hospitale pauperum, for the repose of the souls of her two children who died and were buried in the Holy Trinity Priory. It was to consist of thirteen members—"Brothers and Sisters." It was endowed with certain{66} estates which the society, after this long lapse of time, still enjoys; the sisters had the right of voting at chapter meetings—a right which they still retain. The hospital was placed in the charge or custody of the prior of Holy Trinity. A hundred years later there was a dispute as to the meaning of the right of custody, which the priory maintained to be ownership. In the end Queen Eleanor obtained possession of the place, and greatly increased its wealth and dignity. Under her it consisted of a master, three brothers in orders, three sisters, and ten bedeswomen. They all lived in their college round the church of St. Katherine. Queen Philippa, another benefactor, further endowed the hospital, adding two chaplains and six poor scholars. Philippa's new charter, with the building of a splendid church, raised the hospital to a position far above the small foundation of poor men and women designed by Matilda. It now stood within its precinct of eleven acres, possessed of its own courts, spiritual and temporal, its own law officers, and even its own prison. Its good-fortune in being considered the private property of the Queen Consort caused it to escape the general suppression of the religious houses. It lived on—albeit a sleepy life—a centre of religion and education to the poor people among whom it was placed. It should have lived there till this day; it should have become the Westminster Abbey of East London; but greed of gain destroyed it. Its venerable buildings—its chapel, college, cloisters, and courts were all destroyed sixty years ago in order to construct on their site the docks called St. Katherine's, which were not wanted for the trade of the City. In order to construct docks, in rivalry{67} with other docks already established, this most precious monument of the past—the Abbey Church of East London—was ruthlessly destroyed. Who would believe such a thing? The dust and ashes of the nameless dead which filled its burying-yard were carried away and used to fill up certain old reservoirs, on the site of which were built streets and squares; and in Regent's Park they stuck up a new chapel, with half a dozen neat houses round it, and called that St. Katherine's by the Tower. Some day this foundation, with its income of £10,000 a year, must be sent back to East London, to which it belongs. Poor East London! It had one—only one—ancient and venerable foundation, and they have wantonly and uselessly destroyed it.

Everybody who visits London goes to see the Temple Church and the courts formerly trodden by the Templars, now echoing the hurried feet of lawyers and their clerks. Their beautiful church, however, is that of the new Temple. There was an older Temple than this. It stood at the north-east corner of Chancery Lane. It was certainly some kind of quadrangular college with its chapel, its hall, its courts, and its gardens. When the Templars moved to their new quarters, it passed into other hands and ceased to be a monastic place. Some of its buildings survived until the sixteenth century.

Is the legend of St. Mary Overies too well-known a story to be retold? Perhaps there are some readers who have not read the Chronicles of London Bridge, where it is narrated.


Long years ago, before there was any London Bridge at all, a ferry plied across the river between what is{68} now Dowgate Dock and that now called St. Saviour's Dock—both of which exist untouched, save that the buildings round them are changed. At one time the ferry-master—he appears to have sat at home and taken the money while his servants tugged at the oar—was one Awdrey. There was no competition in the ferry trade of the time, so that this worthy employer of labor grew rich. As he became old, however, he fell into the vice common to rich men who are also old—that is to say, he became avaricious, covetous, and miserly; he suffered acutely from this failing, in so much that he grudged his servants their very food. This miser had a daughter, a lovely damsel named Mary, of whom many young knights became amorous. To one of these she lost her heart; and, as too commonly happens, to the poorest, a thing which her father could not countenance. The knight, therefore, not being able to get the consent of Awdrey père, removed to another{69} place, guarding still the memory of his Mary, and still beloved by her. As there was no post in those days, and neither could write, they exchanged no letters, but they preserved their constancy and fidelity.

Now behold what may happen as a punishment for avarice! The old man one day, devising a way to save a few meals—for at a time when death is in the house who can think upon eating and drinking?—pretended that he was dead, and laid himself out with a white sheet over him. Alas! He was cruelly mistaken. His servants, learning what had happened, loudly and openly rejoiced, stripped the larder of all that it contained, set the casks flowing, opened the bottles, and began to feast and sing. It was more than the old man could endure. He sprang from his bed and rushed among them; they fled, shrieking, because they thought it was his ghost; one, bolder than the rest, stood his ground to face the ghost, and banged the apparition over the head with the butt-end of a broken oar, so that the unlucky ghost fell down dead in real earnest. What happened when they came to bury him may be read in the book above referred to.

The miser's fortune thereupon devolved upon his daughter. She immediately sent for her lover, who hastened to obey his mistress. Alas! on his way the unlucky knight was thrown from his horse and was killed. The girl, distracted by this misfortune, founded a convent of sisters at the south end of the ferry, and taking refuge in her own Foundation, retired from the world. Here in course of time she died. Later on, another pious lady changed the convent of sisters to a college of priests, and very early in the twelfth century two Norman knights, named Pont de l'Arche{70} and D'Ansey, founded here a great priory, of which the present Church of St. Saviour was then the chapel. The Effigy of Pont de l'Arche (or perhaps it is that of his friend D'Ansey) is still to be seen, with no inscription upon it, in the church. The chancel, the{71} two transepts, and the Ladye Chapel now remain of the old church with its later additions, and at this moment they are rebuilding the nave in something like the former style.


"There were in London," Fitz Stephen says, "a hundred and twenty-six parish churches besides the cathedral and conventual churches." Whatever the population may have been, the City has never, in her most crowded days, when nearly half a million lived within her walls, wanted more churches. A list of them may be found in Strype and Stow. Some of them—twenty-five, I think—were never rebuilt after the great fire. Many of them, in these days, have been wantonly and wickedly destroyed. Most of the churches were doubtless small and mean buildings. Fortunately, we are able to show, by the survival of one monument, what some of these little parish churches of London were like in the Saxon and early Norman times. There remains at Bradford-on-Avon, a little town of Wiltshire, a church still complete save for its south porch, built by St. Aldhelm in the eighth century. There are other partly Saxon and so-called Saxon remains. There is the most curious church of Greenstead in Essex, whose walls are trunks of oak-trees. Perhaps some of the London churches may have been built in the same way, but it is more probable that the piety of the parishioners made them of stone.[6] The accompanying figure shows the Bradford church. It is very small; the plan shows the arrangement of nave, chancel, and north porch; it had a south{72} porch, but that is gone. The walls are of thick stone; the nave is 25 feet 2 inches long, and 13 feet 2 inches broad; the chancel is 13 feet 2 inches long, and 10 feet broad. The height of the nave to the wall plates is 25 feet 3 inches; of the chancel is 18 feet. The chancel opens out from the nave, not with a broad arch, but with a narrow door only 2 feet 4 inches broad—a very curious arrangement. The doors of the south and north porches are of the same breadth. The church must have been very dark, but, then, windows in a cold climate, if you have no glass, must be as small in size and as few in number as possible. It was lit by a small window in the eastern wall of the north porch, no doubt by another in the south porch, by a small window in the south wall of the nave near the chancel, and by a fourth small window in the south wall of the chancel, so placed that the light, and sometimes the sun, should fall upon the altar during celebration of mass. The church was thus imperfectly lit by four small windows, each with its round arch. The people knelt on the stones; there were no chairs or benches for them; the bareness of the church at the present day is just what it was at first. There is no tower. Over the chancel arch are sculptured two angels. Outside the church, at the height of about ten feet, runs a course of round arcades, the only ornament, unless the remains of some engaged pilasters on the inner door of the north porch be counted as ornament. A little new masonry has been added within, and two new windows have been cut in the northern wall for the purpose of giving more light. But with these exceptions the church is exactly as it was when Aldhelm reared it and dedicated it to St.{75} Laurence. I do not say that this little church represents all the Saxon parish churches of London, but we may be sure that it represents some, and we know that many of them, even after they had been rebuilt in the twelfth century, and after mediæval piety had beautified and decorated them, remained mean and small. In the matter of Saxon churches we have perhaps fewer existing specimens than we have of the earlier British churches. The Church of St. Mary at Dover, built of Roman bricks and cement; part of St. Martin's, Canterbury; and the little Cornish Church of Perranazabuloe belong to that earlier period. But the Church of St. Laurence, in the pretty old town of Bradford-on-Avon, is, according to Professor E. A. Freeman, the one surviving old English church in the land.


It is impossible to assign a date for the foundation of these churches, but their dedication in many cases affords a limit of period before which they could not have been built. Thus, there are three churches in London named after St. Olave. This king, canonized because, with much good feeling, he left off attacking the English, died at the end of the tenth century. These churches were therefore erected in or after the reign of Edward the Confessor. There are two named after Dunstan, which gives us a limit to their dates. They were built between the canonization of Dunstan and the Norman Conquest, because after the conquest there were no new churches consecrated to Saxon saints. The dedication of St. Alban's may possibly mark the site of a church of Roman time, as may also that of St. Helen's, named after Helena, mother of Constantine. But I have given reasons for believing{76} that everything Roman perished and was forgotten. The churches of St. Botolph, St. Swithin, St. Osyth, St. Ethelburga, already mentioned, indicate a Saxon foundation. St. Alphege was murdered in 1012, so that his church must have been built between 1012 and 1066. One or two dedications are obscure. Why, for instance, was a church dedicated to St. Vedast? He was a bishop of Arras, who, in the sixth century, confirmed his flock in the faith by a series of miracles quite novel and startling. But who brought the fame of Vedast and the history of his miracles to the heart of London City? Traditionally, the two oldest churches in London are those of St. Peter, Cornhill, which claims a Roman origin, and St. Martin's, Ludgate Hill, which is assigned to a certain British Prince Cadwallo.{77} Both traditions may be neglected. In the oldest part of the City, that along the river, the churches, as I have already mentioned, are mostly dedicated to the Apostles. Besides the churches, all the monuments the City had then to show were its wall, its Great Tower, one or two smaller towers, and its Bridge.


The original building of the bridge cannot be discovered. As long as we know anything of London, the bridge was there. For a long time it was a bridge of timber, provided with a fortified gate—one of the gates of the City. In the year 1091 the Chronicler relates that on the Feast of St. Edmund, the Archbishop, at hour of six, a dreadful whirlwind from the south-east, coming from Africa—thus do authors in all ages seize upon the opportunity of parading their knowledge—"from{78} Africa!" all that way!—blew upon the City, and overwhelmed upwards of six hundred houses and several churches, greatly damaged the Tower, and tore away the roof and part of the wall of St. Mary le Bow, in Cheapside. During the same storm the water in the Thames rose with such rapidity and increased so violently that London Bridge was entirely swept away.


The bridge was rebuilt. Two years afterwards it narrowly escaped destruction when a great part of the City was destroyed by fire. Forty years later it did meet this fate in the still greater fire of 1135. It was immediately rebuilt, but I suppose hurriedly, because thirty years later it had to be constructed anew.

Among the clergy of London was then living one Peter, chaplain of a small church in the Poultry—where Thomas à Becket was baptized—called Colechurch. This man was above all others skilled in the craft and mystery of bridge-building. He was perhaps a member of the fraternity called the Pontific (or Bridge-building) Brothers, who about this time built the famous bridges at Avignon, Pont St. Esprit, Cahors, Saintes, and La Rochelle. He proposed to build a stone bridge over the river. In order to raise money for this great enterprise, offerings were asked and contributed by king, citizens, and even the country at large. The list of contributors was written out on a table for posterity, and preserved in the Bridge Chapel.


This bridge, which was to last for six hundred and{79} fifty years, took as long to build as King Solomon's Temple, namely, three-and-thirty years. Before it was finished the architect lay in his grave. When it was completed, the bridge was 926 feet long, and 40 feet wide—Stow says 30 feet; it stood 60 feet above high water; it contained a drawbridge and 19 pointed arches, with massive piers, varying from 25 to 34 feet in solidity, raised upon strong elm piles, covered with thick planks. The bridge was curiously irregular; there was no uniformity in the breadth of the arches; they varied from 10 feet to 32 feet. Over the tenth and longest pier was erected a chapel, dedicated to the youngest saint in the calendar, St. Thomas of Canterbury. The erection of a chapel on a bridge was by no means uncommon. Everybody, for instance, who has been in the South of France remembers the double chapel on the broken bridge at Avignon. Again, a chapel was built on the bridge at Droitwich, in Cheshire, and one on the bridge at Wakefield, in Yorkshire. Like the chapel at Avignon, that of London Bridge contained an upper and a lower{80} chapel; the latter was built in the pier with stairs, making it accessible from the river. The bridge gate at the southern end was fortified by a double tower, and there was also a tower at the northern end. The wall, or parapet of the bridge, followed the line of the piers, so as to give at every pier additional room. The same arrangement used to be seen on the old bridge at Putney. The maintenance of this important edifice was in the hands of the Brethren of St. Thomas of the Bridge.

To build a bridge was ever accounted a good work. Witness the lines engraved on the bridge of Culham:

Off alle werkys in this world that ever were wrought
Holy Churche is chefe—
Another blessid besines is brigges to make,
When that the pepul may not passe after greet showers,
Dole it is to drawe a dead body out of a lake,
That was fulled in a fount ston and a felow of oures.

The citizens have always regarded London Bridge with peculiar pride and affection. There was no other bridge like it in the whole country, nor any which could compare with it for strength or for size. I think, indeed, that there was not in the whole of Europe any bridge that could compare with it; for it was built not only over a broad river, but a tidal river, up which the flood rose and ebbed with great vehemence twice a day. Later on they built houses on either side, but at first the way was clear. The bridge was endowed with broad lands; certain monks, called Brethren of St. Thomas on the Bridge, were{81} charged with the services in the chapel, and with administering the revenues for the maintenance of the fabric.

The children made songs about it. One of their songs to which they danced taking hands has been preserved. It is modernized, and one knows not how old it is. The author of Chronicles of London Bridge gives it at full length, with the music. Here are two or three verses:

London Bridge is broken down,
Dance over my Lady Lee;
London Bridge is broken down,
With a gay ladee.
How shall we build it up again?
Dance over my Lady Lee;
How shall we build it up again?
With a gay ladee.
Build it up with stone so strong,
Dance over my Lady Lee;
Huzza! 'twill last for ages long,
With a gay ladee.

The City wall, repaired by Alfred, was not allowed to fall into decay again for the next seven hundred years. A recent discovery proves that the ditch was more ancient than had been thought. But by the time of King John it was greatly decayed and stopped up; in his reign a grand restoration of the ditch was made by the citizens. Many fragments of the wall have been discovered dotted along its course, which is now accurately known, and can be traced. One of the City churches has a piece of the wall itself{82} under its north wall. In the church-yard of St. Alphege there remains a fragment; in the church-yard of St. Giles there is a bastion. To repair the wall they seem to have used any materials that offered. Witness the collection of capitals and pilasters found in a piece of the City wall, and preserved in the Guildhall. Witness, also, the story of King John, who, when he wanted stones for repairing the gates, broke down the stone-houses of the Jews, robbed their coffers, and used the stones for his repairs. When Lud Gate was pulled down some of these stones, with Hebrew inscriptions, were found, but I believe were all thrown into the Thames at London Bridge.


The Tower of London, until William Longchamp, A.D. 1190, enclosed it with a wall and a deep ditch, consisted of nothing but the great White Tower, with its halls and its chapel of St. John. At the western end of the wall, where is now Ludgate Hill Railway Station, stood a smaller tower called Montfichet. On{83} the opposite bank of the Fleet stood a stronghold, which afterwards became Bridewell Palace, and covered the whole site of the broad street which now follows the approach to Blackfriars Bridge. The site of Tower Royal is preserved in the street of that name. King Stephen lodged there. It was afterwards given to the Crown, and called the Queen's Wardrobe. And there was another tower in Bucklersbury called Sernes Tower, of which no trace remains.

Of great houses there were as yet but few—Blackwell Hall, if it then stood, would be called Bassing Hall—Aldermanbury, the predecessor of Guildhall, was built by this time; and we hear of certain great men having houses in the City—Earl Ferrars in Lombard Street next to Allhallows and Pont de l'Arche in Elbow Lane, Dowgate Ward, what time Henry the First was King.

The water supply of the City until the later years of the thirteenth century was furnished by the Walbrook, the Wells or Fleet rivers, and the springs or fountains outside the walls, of which Stow enumerates a great many. I suppose that the two streams very early became choked and fouled and unfit for drinking. But the conduits and "Bosses" of water were not commenced till nearly the end of the thirteenth century. Water-carts carried round fresh water, bringing it into the town from the springs and wells on the north. One does not find, however, any period in the history of London when the citizens desired plain cold water as a beverage. Beer was always the national drink; they drank small ale for breakfast, dinner, and supper; when they could get it they drank strong ale. Of water for washing there was not at this period so{84} great a demand as at present. At the same time it is not true to say, as was said a few years ago in the House of Commons, that for eight hundred years our people did not wash themselves. All through the Middle Ages the use of the hot bath was not only common, but frequent, and in the case of the better classes was almost a necessity of life.


The population of this busy city is tolerably easy to calculate. The astounding statement of the good Fitz Stephen that London could turn out an army of 20,000 horse and 60,000 foot, must of course, be dismissed without argument. Some minds are wholly incapable of understanding numbers. Perhaps Fitz Stephen had such a mind. Perhaps in writing the numerals the numbers got multiplied by ten—Roman numerals are hard to manage. If we assume an average of 400 for each parish church, which, considering that the church was used daily by the people, seems{85} not too little, we get a population of about 50,000. In the time of Richard's poll tax, 300 years later, the population was about 40,000. But then the City had been ravaged by a succession of plagues.


The strength of the town and the power of the citizens is abundantly proved by the chronicles. In the year 994, Aulaf and Swegen came to fight against London with ninety-four ships; but "they there sustained more harm and evil than they ever imagined that any townsmen would be able to do unto them." Early in the eleventh century the Londoners beat off the Danes again and again. Nor did the citizens abandon their king until he abandoned them. Later on, Edmund Etheling had to abandon his enterprise against Cnut, because the Londoners would not join him. Then there is the story about the body of the murdered Alphege, Archbishop of Canterbury. This had been deposited in St. Paul's Cathedral. Agelnoth, successor to Alphege, begged the body of Cnut for Canterbury. Cnut granted the request, but was afraid—timebat civium interruptiones—to take away the body except by stealth. He therefore caused his huscarles, or household soldiers, to disperse themselves, and to raise tumults at the gates and elsewhere. While the citizens were running{86} everywhere to enjoy a share in the fight, the body was carried to the river and placed in a boat, which was rowed in all haste down the river. The townsmen sent out a party in pursuit. And, as everybody knows, William the Norman found it politic or necessary to confirm the liberties and laws of London.

The house, either in Saxon and Norman time, presented no kind of resemblance to the Roman villa. It had no cloisters, no hypocaust, no suite or sequence of rooms. This unlikeness is another proof, if any were wanting, that the continuity of tenure had been wholly broken. If the Saxons went into London, as has been suggested, peaceably, and left the people to carry on their old life and their trade in their own way, the Roman and British architecture, no new thing, but a style grown up in course of years and found fitted to the climate, would certainly have remained. That, however, was not the case. The Englishman developed his house from the patriarchal idea. First, there was the common hall; in this the household lived, fed, transacted business, and made their cheer in the evenings. It was built of timber, and to keep out the cold draughts it was afterwards lined with tapestry. At first they used simple cloths, which in great houses were embroidered and painted; perches of various kinds were affixed to the walls whereon the weapons, the musical instruments, the cloaks, etc., were hung up. The lord and lady sat on a high seat: not, I am inclined to think, on a dais at the end of the hall, which would have been cold for them, but on a great chair near the fire, which was burning in the middle of the hall. This fashion long continued. I have myself seen a college hall warmed by a fire in a brazier{87} burning under the lantern of the hall. The furniture consisted of benches; the table was laid on trestles, spread with a white cloth, and removed after dinner; the hall was open to all who came, on condition that the guest should leave his weapons at the door. The floor was covered with reeds, which made a clean, soft, and warm carpet, on which the company could, if they pleased, lie round the fire. They had carpets or rugs also, but reeds were commonly used. The traveller who chances to find himself at the ancient and most interesting town of Kingston-on-Hull, which very few English people, and still fewer Americans, have the curiosity to explore, should visit the Trinity House. There, among many interesting things, he will find a hall where reeds are still spread, but no longer so thickly as to form a complete carpet. I believe this to be the last survival of the reed carpet. The times of meals were: the breakfast at about nine; the "noon-meat," or dinner, at twelve; and the "even-meat," or supper, probably at a movable time, depending on the length of the day. When lighting was costly and candles were scarce, the hours of sleep would be naturally longer in winter than in the summer. In their manner of living the Saxons were fond of vegetables, especially of the leek, onion, and garlic. Beans they also had (these were introduced probably at the time when they commenced intercourse with the outer world), pease, radishes, turnips, parsley, mint, sage, cress, rue, and other herbs. They had nearly all our modern fruits, though many show by their names, which are Latin or Norman, a later introduction. They made use of butter, honey, and cheese. They drank ale and mead. The latter is still made, but{88} in small quantities, in Somerset and Hereford shires. The Normans brought over the custom of drinking wine.


In the earliest times the whole family slept in the common hall. The first improvement was the erection of the solar, or upper, chamber. This was above the hall, or a portion of it, or over the kitchen and buttery attached to the hall. The arrangement may be still observed in many of the old colleges of Oxford or Cambridge. The solar was first the sleeping-room of the lord and lady: though afterwards it served not only this purpose, but also for an ante-chamber to the dormitory of the daughters and the maid-servants. The men of the household still slept in the hall below. Later on, bed recesses were contrived in the wall, as one may find in Northumberland at the{89} present day. The bed was commonly, but not for the ladies of the house, merely a big bag stuffed with straw. A sheet wrapped round the body formed the only night-dress. But there were also pillows, blankets, and coverlets. The early English bed was quite as luxurious as any that followed after, until the invention of the spring-mattress gave a new and hitherto unhoped-for joy to the hours of night.

The second step in advance was the ladies' bower, a room or suite of rooms set apart for the ladies of the house and their women. For the first time, as soon as this room was added, the women could follow their own avocations of embroidery, spinning, and needle-work of all kinds apart from the rough and noisy talk of the men.

The main features, therefore, of every great house, whether in town or country, from the seventh to the twelfth century, were the hall, the solar, built over the kitchen and buttery, and the ladies' bower.

There was also the garden. In all times the English have been fond of gardens. Bacon thought it not beneath his dignity to order the arrangement of a garden. Long before Bacon, a writer of the twelfth century describes a garden as it should be. "It should be adorned on this side with roses, lilies, and the marigold; on that side with parsley, cost, fennel, southernwood, coriander, sage, savery, hyssop, mint, vine, dettany, pellitory, lettuce, cresses, and the peony. Let there be beds enriched with onions, leeks, garlic, mellons, and scallions. The garden is also enriched by the cucumber, the soporiferous poppy, and the daffodil, and the acanthus. Nor let pot herbs be wanting, as beet-root, sorrel, and mallow. It is useful also to{90} the gardener to have anice, mustard, and wormwood.... A noble garden will give you medlars, quinces, the pear main, peaches, pears of St. Regle, pomegranates, citrons, oranges, almonds, dates, and figs." The latter fruits were perhaps attempted, but no one doubts their arriving at ripeness. Perhaps the writer sets down what he hoped would be some day achieved.

The in-door amusements of the time were very much like our own. We have a little music in the evening; so did our forefathers; we sometimes have a little dancing; so did they, but the dancing was done for them; we go to the theatres to see the mime; in their days the mime made his theatre in the great man's hall. He played the fiddle and the harp; he sang songs; he brought his daughter, who walked on her hands and executed astonishing capers; the gleeman, minstrels, or jongleur was already as disreputable as when we find him later on with his ribauderie. Again, we play chess; so did our ancestors; we gamble with dice; so did they; we feast and drink together; so did they; we pass the time in talk; so did they. In a word, as Alphonse Karr put it, the more we change, the more we remain the same.


Out-of-doors, as Fitz Stephen shows, the young men skated, wrestled, played ball, practised archery, held water tournaments, baited bull and bear, fought cocks, and rode races. They were also mustered sometimes{91} for service in the field, and went forth cheerfully, being specially upheld by the reassuring consciousness that London was always on the winning side.


The growth of the city government belongs to the history of London. Suffice it here to say that the people in all times enjoyed a freedom far above that possessed by any other city of Europe. The history of municipal London is a history of continual struggle to maintain this freedom against all attacks, and to extend it and to make it impregnable. Already the people are proud, turbulent, and confident in their own strength. They refuse to own any over lord but the King himself; there is no Earl of London. They freely hold their free and open meetings—their Folk's mote—in the open space outside the north-west corner of St. Paul's Church-yard. That they lived roughly, enduring cold, sleeping in small houses in narrow courts; that they suffered much from the long darkness of winter; that they were always in danger of fevers, agues, "putrid" throats, plagues, fires by night, and civil wars; that they were ignorant of letters—three schools only{92} for the whole of London—all this may very well be understood. But these things do not make men and women wretched. They were not always suffering from preventable disease; they were not always hauling their goods out of the flames; they were not always fighting. The first and most simple elements of human happiness are three, to wit: that a man should be in bodily health, that he should be free, that he should enjoy the produce of his own labor. All these things the Londoner possessed under the Norman kings nearly as much as in these days they can be possessed. His city has always been one of the healthiest in the world. Whatever freedom could be attained he enjoyed, and in that rich trading town all men who worked lived in plenty.

The households, the way of living, the occupations of the women, can be clearly made out in every detail from the Anglo-Saxon literature. The women in the country made the garments, carded the wool, sheared the sheep, washed the things, beat the flax, ground the corn, sat at the spinning-wheel, and prepared the food. In the towns they had no shearing to do, but all the rest of their duty fell to their province. The English women excelled in embroidery. "English" work meant the best kind of work. They worked church vestments with gold and pearls and precious stones. "Orfrey," or embroidery in gold, was a special art. Of course they are accused by the ecclesiastics of an overweening desire to wear finery; they certainly curled their hair, and, one is sorry to read, they painted, and thereby spoiled their pretty cheeks. If the man was the hlaf-ord—the owner or winner of the loaf—the wife was the hlaf-dig, its distributor; the servants{93} and the retainers were hlaf-oetas, or eaters of it. When nunneries began to be founded, the Saxon ladies in great numbers forsook the world for the cloister. And here they began to learn Latin, and became able at least to carry on correspondence—specimens of which still exist—in that language. Every nunnery possessed a school for girls. They were taught to read and to write their own language and Latin, perhaps also rhetoric and embroidery. As the pious Sisters were fond of putting on violet chemises, tunics, and vests of delicate tissue, embroidered with silver and gold, and scarlet shoes, there was probably not much mortification of the flesh in the nunneries of the later Saxon times.

This for the better class. We cannot suppose that the daughters of the craftsmen became scholars of the Nunnery. Theirs were the lower walks—to spin the linen and to make the bread and carry on the house-work.

Let us walk into the narrow streets and see something more closely of the townfolk. We will take the close net-work of streets south of Paul's and the Cheapside, where the lanes slope down to the river. North of Chepe there are broad open spaces never yet built upon; south, every inch of ground is valuable. The narrow winding lanes are lined with houses on either side; they are for the most part houses with wooden fronts and roofs of timber. Here and there is a stone house; here and there the great house of a noble, or of a City baron, or a great merchant, as greatness is counted. But as yet the trade of London goes not farther than Antwerp, or Sluys, or Bordeaux at the{94} farthest. Some of the houses stand in gardens, but in this part, where the population is densest, most of the gardens have become courts; and in the courts where the poorest live, those who are the porters and carriers, and lightermen and watermen—the servants of the Port—the houses are huts, not much better than those whose ruins may still be seen on Dartmoor; of four uprights, with wattle and clay for walls, and a thatched roof, and a fire burning on the floor in the middle. At the corners of the streets are laystalls, where everything is flung to rot and putrefy; the streets are like our country lanes, narrow and muddy; public opinion is against shooting rubbish into the street, but it is done; the people walk gingerly among the heaps of offal and refuse. In the wooden houses, standing with shutters and doors wide open all the year round, sit the men at work, each in his own trade, working for his own master; every man belongs to his guild, which is as yet religious. Here is a church, the Church of St. George, Botolph Lane; the doors are open; the bells are ringing; the people are crowding in. Let us enter. It is a Mystery that they are going to play—nothing less than the Raising of Lazarus according to Holy Scripture. The church within is dark and gloomy, but there is light enough to see the platform, or low stage, under the nave covered with red cloth, which has been erected for the Play. The actors are young priests and choristers. All round the stage stand the people, the men in leather jerkins—they do not remove their caps—the women in woollen frocks, the children with eyes wide open. When the Play begins they all weep without restraint at the moving passages. In the first scene Lazarus lies on{95} his bed, at the point of death—weak, faint, speechless. He is attended by his friends—four Jews, attired in realistic fashion, no mistake about their nationality—infidels, mécréants—and by his sisters twain, marvellously like two nuns of the period. They send a messenger to the new Great Physician and Worker of Miracles, who is reported to be preaching and healing not far off. But He delays; Lazarus dies. His sister goes to reproach the Physician with the delay, wailing and lamenting her brother's death. At length He comes. Lazarus is already buried. The tomb is on the stage, with the dead man inside. Jesus calls. Oh,{96} miracle! we saw him die; we saw him buried. Lo! he rises and comes forth from the grave. To the people it is as if the Lord Jesus himself stood before them; they have seen Him with their own eyes; henceforth the name of the Lord recalls a familiar form; experienced persons of dull imagination say that this is not Jesus at all, but Stephen the Deacon—he with the heavenly voice and the golden locks. No, no; it is not Stephen they have seen, but Another. So, also, some will have it that the man who died and was buried, and rose again, and stood before them all in white cerements, was John of Hoggesdon, Chantry Priest. Not so; it was Lazarus—none other. Lazarus, now no doubt a blessed saint, with his two sisters, Martha and Mary. Why! it must have been Lazarus, because, after the miracle, he called upon the people to mark the wondrous works of the Lord, and sang the Magnificat so that the psalm echoed in the roof and rolled above the pillars. He sang that psalm out of pure gratitude; you could see the tears rolling down his cheeks; and in worship and adoration, Lazarus himself, he who had been dead and had come to life again.


The Mystery is over; the people have all gone away; the stage is removed, and the church is empty again. Two priests are left, and their talk is like a jarring note after sweet music. "Brother," says one, "were it not for such shows as these, if we did not present to the people the things which belong to religion in such a way that the dullest can understand, the Church would be in a parlous way. All folk cry out upon the profligacy of the monks, and their luxury, and the greed of the priests. What sayeth Walter Map, that good archdeacon?{97}

"'Omnis a clericis fluit enormitas,
Cum Deo debeant mentes sollicitas,
Tractant negotia mercesque vetitas
Et rerum turpium vices indebitas.'"

"I hear," said the other, "that two Cistercians have lately become apostate to the Jews."

"Rather," replied the first, "they should have become Christians, so to separate themselves the better from that accursed body."


These are the distant rumblings of the gathering storm. But the Church will become much richer, much more powerful, the monks will become much more{98} profligate, the priests will become far more greedy before things grow to be intolerable.

It is an evening in May. What means this procession? Here comes a sturdy rogue marching along valiantly, blowing pipe and beating tabor. After him, a rabble rout of lads and young men, wearing flowers in their caps, and bearing branches and singing lustily. This is what they sing, not quite in these words, but very nearly:

Sumer is icumen in,
Lhude sing cuccu!
Groweth sed and bloweth med,
And springth the wde nu.
Sing cuccu.
Awe bleteth after lamb,
Llouth after calve cu,
Bulluc sterteth, buck verteth,
Murie sing cuccu!
Cuccu, cuccu, well singeth thu cuccu,
Ne swik thu navu nu;
Sing cuccu, cuccu, nu sing cuccu,
Sing cuccu, sing cuccu, nu!

The workman jumps up and shouts as they go past; the priest and the friar laugh and shout; the girls, gathering together as is the maidens' way, laugh and clap their hands. The young men sing as they go and dance as they sing. Spring has come back again—sing cuckoo; the days of light and warmth—sing cuckoo; the time of feasting and of love—sing cuckoo. The proud abbot, with his following, draws rein to let them pass, and laughs to see them; he is, you see, a man first and a monk afterwards. In the gateway of his great house stands the Norman earl{99} with his livery. He waits to let the London youth go by. The earl scorns the English youth no longer; he knows their lustihood. He can even understand their speech. He sends out largesse to the lads to be spent in the good wines of Gascony and of Spain; he joins in the singing; he waves his hand, a brotherly hand, as the floral greenery passes along; he sings with them at the top of his voice:

Sing cuccu—cuccu—nu sing cuccu;
Sing cuccu; sing cuccu, nu.

Presently the evening falls. It is light till past eight; the days are long. At nightfall, in summer, the people go to bed. In the great houses they assemble in the hall; in winter they would listen to music and the telling of stories, even the legends of King Arthur. Walter Map[7] will collect them and arrange them, and the French romances, such as "Amis et Amils," "Aucassin et Nicolette," though these have not yet been written down. In summer they have music before they go to bed. We are in a city that has always been fond of music. The noise of crowd and pipe, tabor and cithern, is now silent in the streets. Rich men kept their own musicians. What said Bishop Grossetête?

Next hys chamber, besyde hys study,
Hys harper's chamber was fast ther by,
Many tymes, by nightes and dayes,
He hade solace of notes and layes.
One asked him the resun why
He hadde delyte in minstrelsy?
He answered hym on thys manere
Why he helde the harpe so dere:
{100} The virtu of the harpe thurh skill and right
Wyll destrye the fendys myght,
And to the cros by gode skeyl
Ys the harpe lykened weyl.

He who looks and listens for the voice of the people in these ancient times hears no more than a confused murmur: one sees a swarm working like ants; a bell rings: they knock off work; another bell: they run together; they shout; they wave their hats; the listener, however, hears no words. It is difficult in any age—even in the present day—to learn or understand what the bas peuple think and what they desire. They want few things indeed in every generation; only, as I said above, the three elements of freedom, health, and just pay. Give them these three and they will grumble no longer. When a poet puts one of them on his stage and makes him act and makes him speak, we learn the multitude from the type. Later on, after Chaucer and Piers Ploughman have spoken, we know the people better; as yet we guess at them, we do not even know them in part. Observe, however, one thing about London—a thing of great significance. When there is a Jacquerie, when the people, who have hitherto been as silent as the patient ox, rise with a wild roar of rage, it is not in London. Here men have learned—however imperfectly—the lesson that only by combination of all for the general welfare is the common weal advanced. I think, also, that London men, even those on the lowest levels, have always known very well that their humility of place is due to their own lack of purpose and self-restraint. The air of London has always been charged with the traditions and histories of those who have{103} raised themselves; there never has been a city more generous to her children, more ready to hold out a helping hand; this we shall see illustrated later on; at present all is beginning. The elementary three conditions are felt, but not yet put into words.


We are at present in the boyhood of a city which after a thousand years is still in its strong and vigorous manhood, showing no sign, not the least sign, of senility or decay. Rather does it appear like a city in its first spring of eager youth. But the real work for Saxon and Norman London lies before. It is to come. It is a work which is to be the making of Great Britain and of America, Australia, and the Isles. It is the work of building up, defending, and consolidating the liberties of the Anglo-Saxon race.

They were not wretched at all, these early London citizens; but, on the contrary, joyous and happy and hopeful. And not only for the reasons already stated, but for the great fact—the greatest fact of the time—of their blind and unreasoning faith. It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of unreasoning faith as a factor in human happiness. The life of the meanest man was full of dignity and of splendor, because of the great inheritance assured to him by the Church. We must never leave out the Church in speaking of the past. We must never forget that all people, save here and there a doubting Rufus or a questioning Prince of Anjou, believed without the shadow of any doubt. Knowledge brought the power of questioning. As yet there was no knowledge. Therefore every man's life, however miserable, was, to his happy ignorance, the certain ante-room of heaven. We are fond of dwelling on the mediæval hell, the{104} stupidity and the brutality of its endless torture, and the selfishness of buying salvation by masses. Hell, my friends, was always meant for the other man. He who saw the devils painted on the church-wall, rending, tearing, frying, cutting, burning the poor souls in hell, knew these souls for those of his enemies. Like Dante, he saw among them all his public and his private foes. He looked upward for his hope. There he beheld loving angels bearing aloft in their soft arms the soul redeemed to the abode of perfect bliss. In that soul he recognized himself; he saw the portraiture, exact and lifelike, of his own features.

When the ambassadors of the Caliph Haroun al Raschid brought gifts to the great King Karl, the finest thing he had to show them was the splendid service of the Church.

This story is told literally. It might be told as an allegory. In London Saxon and Norman, as also for many centuries to follow, the finest thing they had to show was the Church, with its music that moved the heart to tears; its promises, which steeled the soul to endurance; its glories, which carried the beholder far away from the wattle and clay of his hut and his grimy leathern doublet; its frown, which stood between him and the tyrannous Over Lord, and saved his home from starvation and his womankind from dishonor. Fortunate was it for the people that they had the Church to show to those ambassadors of the Moslem.


[2] See Loftie's History of London, Appendix N, "List of Buildings which existed before the Great Fire."

[3] A hat or bonnet. Du Cange.

[4] Fosbrooke's Monachism.

[5] Fosbrooke.

[6] Loftie calls attention to the name of our Church St. Mary Staining, i.e., built of stone, as if that was an exceptional thing.

[7] Morley's English Writers, vol. i., p. 760.





Prince Pantagruel and his companions, pursuing their incomparable voyage, sailed three days and three nights without discovering anything, and on the fourth day made land. The Pilot told them that it was the Ringing Island; and, indeed, they heard afar off a kind of a confused and oft-repeated noise, that seemed at a distance not unlike the sound of great, middle-sized, and little bells rung all at once.

Commentators have been much exercised as to the city which the great Master of Allegory had in view when he described l'Ile Sonnante. Foolish commentators! As if even a small master of allegory, much less the great and illustrious Alcofribas Nasier, could, or would, mean any one town in particular! One might as well search for the man whose portrait he painted and called Panurge. He described all towns. For, in truth, every mediæval city was an Ile Sonnante, and the greater, the richer, the more populous, the more powerful was the city, the louder and the more frequent were the jinglings and the janglings, the sonorous clang and the melodious peal, the chimings{106} and the strikings, the music and the jarring of the thousand Bells. They rang all day long; they rang from the great Cathedral and from the little Parish Church; from the stately monastery, the nunnery, the College of Priests, the Spital, the Chantry, the Chapel, and the Hermitage. They rang for Festivals, for Fasts, for Pageants, for Processions, for Births, Marriages, and Funerals; for the election of city officers, for Coronations, for Victories, and for daily service; they rang to mark the day and the hour; they rang in the baby; they rang out the passing soul; they rang for the bride; they rang in memory of the dead; they rang for work to begin and for work to cease; they rang to exhort, to admonish, to console.

With their ringing the City was never quiet. Four miles out of London, the sound of the Bells rang in the ears of the downcast 'prentice boy who sat upon the green slopes of Highgate: the chimes of Bow struck merrily upon his ear above the tinkling of the sheep bell, the carol of the lark, and the song of the thrush. To him they brought a promise and a hope. What they brought to the busy folk in the streets I know not; but since they were a folk of robust nerves, the musical, rolling, melodious, clashing, joyous ringing of bells certainly brought for the most part a sense of elation, hope, and companionship. So, in this our later day, the multitudinous tripper or the Hallelujah lad is not happy unless he can make, as he goes, music—loud music—in the train and on the sands. So, again, those who march in procession do not feel complete without a braying band with drums great and small, banging and beating and roaring an accompaniment to the mottoes on their banners, and{107} uplifting the souls of the champions who are about to harangue the multitude.

The Ile Sonnante of Rabelais may have been Paris—of course it was Paris; it may have been Avignon—there is not the least doubt that it was Avignon; it may also have been London—there can be no manner of question on that point. Rabelais never saw London; but so loud was the jingle-jangle of the City bells that they smote upon his ear while he was beginning that unfinished book of his and inspired the first chapters. London, without a doubt, London, and no other, is the true Ile Sonnante.

A City Monument

Of Plantagenet London there is much to be said and written. Place à l'Église! It was a time when the Church covered all. Faith unquestioning seemed to have produced its full effect. The promised Kingdom, according to eyes ecclesiastic, was already among us. What could be better for the world than that it should be ruled absolutely by the Vicar of Christ? Yet the full effect of this rule proved in the event not quite what might have been expected.

In London, says an observant Frenchman, there is no street without a church and a tree. He speaks of modern London. Of London in the thirteenth century, there was no street without its monastery, its convent garden, its College of Priests, its Canons regular, its Friars, its Pardoners, its sextons, and its serving brothers, and this without counting its hundred and{108} twenty parish churches, each with its priests, its chantries, its fraternities, and its church-yard. The Church was everywhere; it played not only an important part in the daily life, but the most important part. Not even the most rigid Puritan demanded of the world so much of its daily life and so great a share of its revenues as the Church of the Middle Ages. There were already whispered and murmured questions, but the day of revolt was still two hundred long years ahead. Meantime the Church reigned and ruled, and no man yet dared disobey.

Let us consider, therefore, as the most conspicuous feature of Plantagenet London, her great religious Houses. We have seen what they were in Norman London. Already there were there in existence the Cathedral of St. Paul's, with its canons and priests, its army of singing men, clerks, boys, and servants—itself a vast monastic House; the Priory of St. Bartholomew; the House of St. Mary Overies; the Hospital of St. Katherine; the Priory of the Holy Trinity. After three hundred years, when we look again upon the map of London, and mark in color the sites of Monastery, Nunnery, Church, College, and Church-yard, it seems as if a good fourth part of the City area was swallowed up in ecclesiastical Houses. Not so much was actually covered by buildings of the Church, but at least a fourth of the City, counting the gardens and the courts and chapels, belonged to the Church and the religious Houses. Without such a map it is impossible to estimate the enormous wealth of the mediæval Church, its power, and its authority. It is impossible to understand without such a map how enormous was that Revolution which could shake off and shatter{109} into fragments a power so tremendous. Because, as was London, so was every other city. If London had a hundred and twenty churches, Norwich had sixty; York had forty-five. If the country all round London was parcelled out among the religious Houses, so all over the land, manors here, and estates there, broad acres everywhere belonged to the monks. But though their property was enormous, their power was far beyond that conferred by any amount of property, for they held the keys of heaven and kept open the gates of hell.

As for the vast numbers actually maintained by the Church, the single example of St. Paul's Cathedral—of course, the largest foundation in the City—will furnish an illustration. In the year 1450 the Society, a Cathedral body, included the following: the Bishop, the Dean, the four Archdeacons, the Treasurer, the Precentor, the Chancellor, thirty greater Canons, twelve lesser Canons, about fifty Chaplains or chantry priests, and thirty Vicars. Of inferior rank to these were the Sacrist and three Vergers, the Succentor, the Master of the Singing-school, the Master of the Grammar-school, the Almoner and his four Vergers, the Servitors, the Surveyor, the twelve Scribes, the Book Transcriber, the Book-binder, the Chamberlain, the Rent-collector, the Baker, the Brewer, the singing-men and choir-boys, of whom priests were made, the Bedesmen, and the poor folk. In addition to these must be added the servants of all these officers—the brewer, who brewed in the year 1286, 67,814 gallons, must have employed a good many; the baker, who ovened every year 40,000 loaves, or every day more than a hundred, large and small; the sextons, grave-diggers, gardeners, bell-ringers,{110} makers and menders of the ecclesiastical robes, cleaners and sweepers, carpenters, masons, painters, carvers and gilders—one can very well understand that the Church of St. Paul's alone found a livelihood for thousands.


The same equipment was necessary in every other religious foundation. Not a monastery but had its great and lesser officers and their servants. In every one there were the bell-ringers, the singing-men and boys, the vergers, the gardeners, the brewers, bakers, cooks, messengers, scribes, rent-collectors, and all complete as was St. Paul's, though on a smaller scale. It does not seem too much to estimate the ecclesiastical establishments as including a fourth part of the whole population of the City.{111}

The London monasteries lay for the most part either just within or just without the City Wall. The reason is obvious. They were founded when the City was already populous, and were therefore built upon the places where houses were less numerous and ground was of less value.

Let us, in order to visit them all, make a circuit within the City Wall, beginning from the Tower on the East.

The first House at which we stop is the Priory of Crutched Friars, that is, Crossed Friars. They wore a cross of red cloth upon their backs, and carried an iron cross in their hands. The order of the Red Cross was founded by one Conrad, of Bologna, in the year 1169. Some of the Friars found their way to London in the middle of the next century, and humbly begged of the pious folk a house to live in. Of course they got it, and many houses afterwards, with a good following of the citizens. This monastery stood behind Seething Lane, opposite St. Olave's Church. The site afterwards became that of the Navy House, and is still marked by the old stone pillars of the entrance and the open court within. This court is now a receiving house for some railway. Beyond this, on the other side of Aldgate, stood a far more important monastery, that of the Holy Trinity. The site of the place is marked—for there is not a vestige left of the ancient buildings—by a mean little square now called St. James's Square; a place of resort for the poorer Jews. This noble House was founded by Matilda, wife of Henry I., in 1109, for regular Canons of the Order of St. Augustine. The Priory, enriched by many later benefactors, became the wealthiest and{112} most splendid in the City. Its Prior, by virtue of his office, and because the old Knighten Guild had given their property to the Priory, was Alderman of Portsoken ward; the monastery was exempted from ecclesiastical jurisdiction other than the Pope's; its church was great and magnificent, full of stately monuments, carved marbles, and rich shrines; the House was hospitable and nobly charitable to the poor.

The beautiful old church of St. Helen, filled with monuments curious and quaint, was formerly the Church of the Priory of St. Helen. This nunnery was founded by William Basing, dean of St. Paul's, in the reign of Richard I. The church, as it now stands, consists of the old Parish Church and the Nun's Chapel, formerly separated by a partition wall. The Leathersellers' Company acquired some of their ground after the Dissolution, and the old Hall of the Nunnery, afterwards the Leathersellers' Hall, was standing until the year 1799.

On the north of Broad Street stood the splendid House of Austin Friars; that is, the Friars Eremites of the Order of St. Augustine. The House was founded by Humphrey Bohun, Earl of Hereford, in the year 1253. It rapidly became one of the wealthiest Houses in the City; its church, very splendid, was filled with monuments. Part of it stands to this day. It is now used by the Dutch residents in London. The quiet courts and the square at the back of the church retain something of the former monastic arrangement and of the old tranquillity. The square is certainly one of the courts of the monastery, but I know not whether the Refectory or the Library or the Abbot's House stood here.{113}

The next great House following the wall westward was that of St. Martin's le Grand, of which I have already spoken. It was a House of Augustine Canons. It formed a Precinct with its own Liberty. William of Wykeham was its most famous Dean. In the sanctuary Miles Forrest, one of the murderers of the two Princes in the Tower, died—"rotted away piecemeal." The Liberty survived long after the Dissolution.

Adjoining St. Martin's was the great Foundation of the Grey Friars.


They were Franciscans. Who does not know the{114} story of St. Francis and the foundation of his great order? They were the Preachers of the poor. The first Franciscans, like the Buddhist priests, lived upon alms; they had no money, no endowments, no books, no learning, no great houses. Those who came to England—it was in the year 1224—nine in number, of whom only one was a priest, were penniless. They first halted in Canterbury, where they were permitted to sleep at night in a room used by day as a school. Four of them presently moved on to London, where they hired a piece of ground on Cornhill, and built upon it rude cells of wattle and clay with their own hands. Already the Dominicans, their rivals—Preachers of the learned and the rich—had obtained a settlement in Oxford. The Franciscans stayed a very short time on Cornhill. In the year 1225 one John Ewin bought and presented to them a piece of ground north of Newgate Street, whither they removed. Their austerity, their poverty, their earnestness, their eloquence drew all hearts towards them. And, as always happens, their very popularity proved their ruin. Kings and queens, great lords and ladies, strove and vied with each other to show their love and admiration for the men who had given up all that the world can offer for the sake of Christ and for pity of their brothers and sisters. They showed this love in the manner common with the world. They forced upon the friars a portion of their wealth; they made them receive and enjoy the very things they had renounced. It is a wonderful record. First, the citizens began. One Lord Mayor built a new choir for their church, with a splendor worthy of the order and of the City; another built the nave to equal the choir; a third built the{115} dormitories—no more wattle and daub for the dear friars; other citizens built Chapter House, Vestry House, Infirmary, and Refectory. Their Library was given by Dick Whittington, thrice Mayor of London. Then came the turn of the great people. Queen Margaret thought the choir of the church should be still more splendid, and added to it or rebuilt it. Queen Isabel and Queen Philippa thought that the nave should be more splendid, and with the help of the Earl and Countess of Richmond, the Earl of Gloucester and his sisters, Lord Lisle and others, built a new nave, 300 feet long, 89 feet broad, and 64 feet high. Here were buried, as in ground far more sacred than that of St. Paul's or any acre of ordinary consecration, Margaret, wife of Edward I.; Isabel, wife of Edward II.; Joan of the Tower, Queen of Scots, daughter of Edward II.; Isabel, daughter of Edward III.; Beatrice, daughter of Henry III.; and an extraordinary number of persons great and honorable in their day. What became of their monuments and of the church itself belongs to Tudor London.


All those who visit London are recommended by the guide-books to see the famous Blue-coat School. The main entrance is at the end of a narrow lane leading north from Newgate Street. On the right hand of the lane stands a great ugly pile built by Wren twenty years after the Great Fire. This is Christ Church, and it stands on part of the site of the old church of the Grey Friars. At the Dissolution, Henry VIII. made their church into a parish church, assigning to it the two parishes of St. Nicolas Shambles and St. Ewin, together with the ground occupied by the Monastery. The church within is as ugly as it is{116} without. One shudders to think of the change from the great and splendid monastic church. On the other side of the lane is an open space, a church-yard{117} now disused. The old church covered both this open space and the area of the modern church. Behind it stood the cloisters, the burial-ground, and the monastic buildings of the House, covering a great extent of ground. Those who go through the gate find themselves in a large quadrangle asphalted. This is now part of the boys' play-ground; their feet run every day over the old tombs and graves of the Grey Friars' burial-ground; the soil, though not accounted so sacred as that within the church itself, was considered greatly superior to that of any common church-yard. Most of the dead were buried in the habit of the Grey Friars, as if to cheat Peter into a belief of their sanctity. On the south of the quadrangle two or three arches may be observed. These are the only fragments remaining of the cloisters. The view of Christ's Hospital after the Great Fire of 1666 shows the old courts of the Abbey. The church formerly extended over the whole front of the picture; the buildings now seen are wholly modern; the cloistered square was the church-yard; the Hall stood across the north side of the first court; beyond were the courts appropriated to the service of the monks; the cells, libraries, etc., were round the great court and the small courts on the right. The Franciscan House is gone; the Friars are gone. Let us not think, however, that their work is gone. On the contrary, all that was good in it remains. That is the quality and the test of good work. It is imperishable. If you ask what is this work and where it may be found, look about you. In the prosperity of the City; in the energy, the industry, the courage, the soberness of its people; in whatever virtues they possess, the Franciscans have their share;{118} the Grey Friars, who went straight at the people—the rough, common, ignorant people—and saved them from the destruction of those virtues which built up this realm of Britain. The old ideas change; what is to-day faith becomes to-morrow superstition; but the new order is built upon the old. It was a part of the training necessary for the English people that they should pass under the teaching of the Friars.

In the south-western corner of the City Wall were lodged the Dominicans or Black Friars.

These, the Preaching Friars, came to England two years before their rivals, the Franciscans. Their first settlement was in the country lane which now we call Chancery Lane. After a residence there of fifty years they removed to this corner of the town, which was, so to speak, made for them—that is, the City Wall which formerly ran straight from Ludgate to the river was pulled down and rebuilt farther west along the bank of the Fleet. Within the piece of ground thus added the Black Friars settled down, and because the ground had not formerly belonged to the City, it now became a Precinct of its own, enclosed by its own wall, with its four gates not amenable to the City and pretending to a right of Sanctuary. Edward I. and his Queen Eleanor were great benefactors to the Dominicans. Of the church and the stately buildings of the proud order not a trace remains. In the Guildhall Museum may be seen a drawing of some ruined vaults belonging to the Abbey, which were discovered on enlarging the premises of the Times some years ago. There is nothing above-ground. The Dominicans, however, never succeeded in winning the affections of the people to the same extent as the Franciscans.{119} They were learned; they insisted strongly on doctrine; but they were harder of heart than the Grey Friars. It was the Dominicans who encouraged the planting of the Inquisition.


All these Houses were within the walls. Without were others, as rich and as splendid. South of Fleet Street, between Bridewell Palace and the Temple, was the House of the Carmelites, called the White Friars. These also were an Order of Mendicants. The Fratres Beatæ Mariæ de Monte Carmelo sprang from the hermits who settled in numbers on the slopes of Mount Carmel. They were formed into an order by Almeric, Bishop of Antioch, and were first introduced into Europe about the year 1216, by Albert, Patriarch of Jerusalem. They got their house in London from{120} Edward I.; but their chief benefactor was Hugh Courtenay, Earl of Devonshire. They, too, had their Sanctuary, afterwards called Alsatia. This privilege was not abolished till the year 1697.

Beyond the Carmelites were the Templars, but the suppression of the Order removed them from the scene in the year 1310.

The Priories of St. Bartholomew and of St. John belong to Norman London. On the north of Bartholomew's, however, stood the house of the Carthusians. The Carthusian Order was a branch of the Benedictine Rule, to which the Cluniacs and Cistercians also belonged.

The house of the Salutation of the Mother of God—which was its full title—was founded in the year 1371 by Sir Walter Manny. Those who know their Froissart know that gallant Knight well and can testify to his achievements; how he entreated King Edward for the citizens of Calais; how he rescued the Countess of Montfort besieged in the castle of Hennebont, and, for his reward, was kissed—he and his companions—not once, but two or three times, by that brave lady; these and many other things can be told of this noble Knight. Not the least of his feats was the foundation of this House of Religion.

When we speak of the Plague of London we generally mean that of 1664-65. But this was only the last, and perhaps not the worst, of the many plagues which had visited the City. Thirteen great pestilences fell upon the City between the years 1094 and 1625—in the last year 35,000 died. That is to say, one plague happened about every forty years, so that there never was a time when a recent plague was not in the minds{121} of men. Always they remembered the last visitation, the suddenness and swiftness of destruction, the desolation of houses, the striking down of young and old, the loss of the tender children, the sweet maidens, the gallant youth. Life is brief and uncertain at the best; but when the plague is added to the diseases which men expect, its uncertainty is forced upon the minds of the people of every condition with a persistence and a conviction unknown in quiet times when each man hopes to live out his three score years and ten.

In the year 1347 there happened a dreadful plague. It began in Dorsetshire and spread over the whole of the south country, reaching London last. After a while the church-yards were not large enough to hold the dead, and they were forced to enclose ground outside the walls. The Bishop of London, therefore, bought a piece of ground north of Bartholomew's, called No Man's Ground, which he enclosed and consecrated, building thereon a "fair chapel." This place was called the Pardon Church-yard. It stood, as those who know London will be interested to know, beyond the north wall of the present Charter House.

Two years later, the plague still continuing, Sir Walter Manny bought a plot of thirteen acres close to this church-yard, and built a chapel upon it—it stood somewhere in the middle of the present Charterhouse Square—and gave it for an additional church-yard. More than fifty thousand persons were buried here in one year, according to Stow; but the number is impossible, unless the whole of London died in that year. There used to be a stone cross standing in the church-yard with the following inscription:{122}

Anno Domini 1349, regnante magna pestilentia, consecratum fuit hoc coemiterium in quo et infra septa presentis monasterii sepulta fuerunt mortuorum corpora plus quam quinquaginta millia praeter alia multa abhinc usque ad presens: quorum animabus propitietur Deus. Amen.

The old Pardon Church-yard afterwards became the burial-place of suicides and executed criminals. To this sad place the bodies of such were carried in a cart belonging to St. John's Hospital; the vehicle was hung over with black, but with a St. John's Cross in front, and within it hung a bell which rang with the jolting and the shaking of the cart—a mournful sight to see and a doleful sound to hear.


Twenty-two years later, when there had been upward of a hundred thousand persons buried in the new church-yard, Sir Walter Manny, now grown old and near his end, bought ten acres more, which he gave to the ground, and established{123} here a House of Carthusians, called the Salutation. At first he thought of making a college for a warden, a dean, and twelve secular priests. On the advice, however, of Simon Sudbury, Bishop of London, he abandoned that project and established a House of Carthusians.

The Cistercian Order was founded by one Stephen Harding, originally a monk of Sherborne. He is said by William of Malmesbury to have left his convent and to have gone into France, where he practised "the Liberal arts" until he fell into repentance, and was received into the monastery of Molesmes, in Burgundy. Here he found a little company of the brethren who were not content with the Rule of the House, but desired instruction and a rule more in accordance with their Founder's intention. They seceded, therefore, and established themselves at Citeaux, then entirely covered with woods. This is their manner of life set forth by the Chronicler:

Certainly many of their regulations seem severe, and more particularly these: they wear nothing made with furs or linen, nor even that finely spun linen garment which we call Staminium;[8] neither breeches, unless when sent on a journey, which at their return they wash and restore. They have two tunics with cowls, but no additional garment in winter, though, if they think fit, in summer they may lighten their garb. They sleep clad and girded, and never after matins return to their beds; but they so order the time of matins that it shall be light ere the lauds[9] begin; so intent are they on their rule, that they think no jot or tittle of it should be disregarded. Directly after these hymns they sing the prime, after which they go out to work for stated hours. They complete whatever labor or service{124} they have to perform by day without any other light. No one is ever absent from the daily services, or from complines, except the sick. The cellarer and hospitaller, after complines, wait upon the guests, yet observing the strictest silence. The abbat allows himself no indulgence beyond the others—everywhere present—everywhere attending to his flock; except that he does not eat with the rest, because his table is with the strangers and the poor. Nevertheless, be he where he may, he is equally sparing of food and speech; for never more than two dishes are served either to him or to his company; lard and meat never but to the sick. From the Ides of September till Easter, through regard for whatever festival, they do not take more than one meal a day, except on Sunday. They never leave the cloister but for purpose of labor, nor do they ever speak, either there or elsewhere, save only to the abbat or prior. They pay unwearied attention to the canonical[10] services, making no addition to them except for the defunct. They use in their divine service the Ambrosian chants[11] and hymns, as far as they were able to learn them at Milan. While they bestow care on the stranger and the sick, they inflict intolerable mortifications on their own bodies, for the health of their souls.

When we consider this death in life, this, suppression of everything which makes life, this annihilation of aims, ambitions, and natural affections, this destruction of love, emotion, and passion, this mere monotony of breathing, this wearisome futility and vanity, this endless iteration of Litanies; when we remember that hundreds of thousands in every Christian country, men and women, voluntarily entered upon this life, knowing beforehand what it was, and that{125} they patiently endured it, we can in some measure realize the intensity and the reality of the torments which they believed to be provided for the vast majority of mankind. There grew up, in the course of years, rich monks and luxurious monks; but in the early days of each order there was the austerity of the Rule. And though here and there we find a brother who rises to a spiritual level far above the letter of his Order, the religion of the ordinary brother was little more than the fear of Hell, with a sense of gratitude to the Saints for snatching him out of the flames.

Most of the brethren, again, of the new and more austere Orders, until they became rich, were simple and illiterate. They wanted a rule of life which should give them no chance of committing sin; like women, they desired to be ruled in everything, even the most trivial. At dinner, for instance, they were enjoined to drink with both hands, and to incline the head when served; in church they were not to clinch their hands or to stretch out their legs; the whole day was mapped out for them as it is for boys at school. From primes (the daybreak service) till tierce, spiritual exercises; from tierce till sext, and from nones till vespers, manual labors; once every day private prayer at the altar; silence in the cell; to ask for what was wanted after nones; no conversation in the chapter, the cloisters, or the church; from November till Easter conversation on the customs of the Order; afterwards on the Gospels, and so on. The effect on the common nature would be to produce a breathing machine, incapable of thought, of action, of judgment, with no affections, emotions, or passions. The holy brotherhood becomes a troop of slaves engaged upon a round of{126} trivial duties, kept at a low stage of vitality by scanty food and short sleep. They cease after a while to desire any change; they go on in meekness and submission to the end, their piety measured by their regularity. Now and then among them is found one who frets under the yoke. Either he wants new austerities, like Stephen Harding, or he rises in mad revolt, and before he can be suppressed commits such dreadful sins of rebellion and blasphemy as leave little doubt that after all his pains and privations his chances in the next world are no better than those of the foul-mouthed ruffler outside, whose life has been one long{127} sin, whose death will be caused by a knife in a drunken fray, whose body will be carried in the black cart with the bell to Pardon Church-yard, and whose soul, most certainly, will be borne to its own place by the hands of the Devil to whom it belongs.


There must have been in every convent such times of madness and revolt, even though the vital powers were kept low with poor and scanty food. It is not every man who can be thus changed into a slave and a praying-machine. The noblest souls must break out from time to time; only the ignoble sink contentedly day by day into lethargic, passive, mechanical discharge of the rules; their mouths mechanically mumble the litanies; the sacredness falls out of the most holy acts and words by reason of their familiarity; they drop into second childhood in the vigor and strength of manhood. If the walls of the convent could speak, what tales would they tell of madness and despair and vain rage and drivelling idiocy! One thing, however, came to the relief of these poor men in every order; it was the gradual relaxation of the Rule, until, by the Dissolution, the laws of the Founder had passed into forms and words, and the House, enriched by benefactions, had become a pleasant club, consisting of none but gentlemen, where certain light duties removed the tedium of an idle life.

For two hundred years this House of the Salutation continued. There remains no record of that long period; no record at all. There is no history of those poor souls who lived their dreary lives within its walls. The monks obeyed the Rule and died and were forgotten. Nay, they had been forgotten since the day when they assumed the hood. The end of the Carthusians{128} came in blood and prison and torture; but that belongs to Tudor London.

The accompanying view (p. 130) of the Charter House after the Dissolution, and when Sutton had altered it for his new Foundation, is useful in showing the arrangement of the older monastic buildings. Chapel, cloisters, courts, bowling green, kitchen garden, and "wilderness" are all exactly as the monks left them, though most of the buildings are of later date. The founder, Sir Walter, lived to see only the commencement of his work. He died the year after his House was established, and was buried in the chapel, he and his wife Margaret, and many other gallant knights and gracious ladies, who thus acknowledged, when they chose to be laid among the dust and ashes of the poor folk who had died of the plague and those who had died by the gibbet, their brotherhood with the poorest and the humblest and the most unfortunate.

The modern visitor to London, when he has seen great St. Bartholomew's, is taken up a street hard by. Here, amid mean houses and shops of the lower class, he sees standing across the road St. John's Gate, a place already as well known to him and as frequently figured as St. Paul's itself. This is the gate—and it is nearly all that is left—of the great Priory of St. John of Jerusalem.

It was founded in the year 1100, and therefore belongs to Norman London. Its founder was Jordan Briset, a Baron of the Realm, and Muriel, his wife. They had already founded a priory for nuns close by Clerkenwell. A church of some kind was certainly built at the beginning, but the great Priory Church, one of the most splendid in London, was not dedicated{129} till the year 1185, and then by no less a person than by Heraclius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, then in England in quest of aid and money for another Crusade.

In its Foundation the brethren took the vows of chastity, obedience, and poverty. They were to have a right to nothing but bread, water, and clothes. They begged their food; on Wednesdays and Fridays they fasted; a breach of their first vow was punished by public flogging and penance; no women were to do any offices at all for them; they were to be silent, never to go about alone; they were to be the servants of the sick and poor; they were valiantly to defend the Cross. "Receive," says the ritual of admission, "the yoke of the Lord: it is easy and light, and thou shalt find rest for thy soul. We promise thee nothing but bread and water, a simple habit of little worth. We give thee, thy parents and relations, a share in the good works performed by our Order and by our brethren, both now and hereafter, throughout the world. We place, O brother, this cross upon thy breast, that thou mayest love it with all thy heart, and may thy right hand ever fight in its defence! Should it happen that in fighting against the enemies of the faith thou shouldest desert the standard of the Cross and take to flight, thou wilt be stripped of the holy sign according to the statutes and customs of the Order, as having broken its vows, and thou wilt be cut off from our body."


This poor, valiant, and ascetic society became in two hundred years enormously rich and luxurious. By its pride and its tyranny it had incurred the most deadly hatred of the common people, as is shown by their behavior during the insurrection of Wat Tyler and{130} John Bull. The first step of the rebels in Essex was to destroy a fair manor-house belonging to the Knights Hospitallers, and to devour and waste the stores of food, wine, and clothes contained in it. On their way to London they destroyed another manor belonging to the Knights, that of Highbury. After they had burned and pillaged Lambeth and the Savoy, they went in a body to St. John's Priory and destroyed the whole of the buildings, church and all. And they seized and beheaded the Grand Prior, who was also Treasurer of the Realm. The church soon rose again, and the monastic buildings were replaced with more than the ancient splendor, and the luxury of the Knights was in no way diminished by this disaster. The Gate itself, part of the later buildings, now belongs to the English Knights of St. John, who have established an ambulance station close beside it and maintain a hospital at Jerusalem. The very beautiful{131} crypt of the church still stands and may be visited. Part of the walls of the mean modern church also belongs to the old church.

On the north side of the Priory and adjacent to it lay the twin Foundation of Briset, the Priory of Black Nuns. Its church, at the Dissolution, became the Parish Church of St. James Clerkenwell. Jordan Briset and his wife were buried in this church.

The Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem was situated at first outside Bishopsgate, close to St. Botolph's Church. This ancient Foundation, of which our Bethlehem Hospital is the grandchild, was endowed by one Simon Fitz Mary, Sheriff in the year 1247. It was designed for a convent, the monks being obliged to receive and entertain the Bishop of Bethlehem or his nuncio whenever either should be in London. It is said to have become a hospital within a few years of its foundation. In the year 1347 the brethren were all engaged in collecting alms. This was one of the lesser Houses, though it survived the rest and became the great and splendid Foundation which still exists. A little farther north, and on the opposite side of Bishopsgate Street, stood the great House of St. Mary Spital—Domus Dei et Beatæ Virginis—founded in the year 1197 by Walter Brune and Rosia his wife. It was originally a Priory of Canons Regular. At some time in its history, I know not when, it was converted into a hospital, like its neighbor of Bethlehem. It would be interesting to learn when this change became even possible. It must have been long after its foundation, when the old prayer-machine theory had lost something of its earliest authority, and, in the face of the mass of human suffering, men{132} began to ask whether the machinery engaged in iterating litanies might not be made more useful in the alleviation of suffering. For whatever cause, the House of God and the Blessed Virgin became St. Mary Spital, and at the time of the Dissolution there were no fewer than one hundred and eighty beds in the House. Near St. Mary Spital was Holywell Nunnery. On the south side of Aldgate, outside the wall, stood the famous Abbey of St. Clare, called the Minories, founded by Edmund, Earl of Lancaster, in the year 1293, for the reception of certain nuns brought over by his wife, Blanche, Queen of Navarre, who were professed to serve God, the Blessed Virgin, and St. Francis.

There is a church, one of the meanest and smallest of all the London churches, standing in the ugliest and dreariest part of the City, called the Church of the Holy Trinity, Minories, which is often visited by Americans because the arms of Washington are to be seen here; and by antiquaries, because the head of the Duke of Suffolk, executed on Tower Hill, is preserved here. The north wall of this church is part of the wall of the Clare Sisters' Church, and is all that remains in that squalid place of the noble Foundation.

Sir Walter Manny's Carthusian House was not the only Foundation arising out of the great Plague of 1348. On the north-east of the Tower arose at the same time a very stately House, dedicated to the Honor of God and the Lady of Grace. It began exactly in the same way as the Carthusians', by the purchase of a piece of ground in which to bury those who died of the plague. John Corey, Clerk, first bought the ground, calling it the Church-yard of the Holy Trinity. One Robert Elsing gave five pounds, and{133} other citizens contributing, the place was enclosed and a chapel built on it. Then Edward III., remembering a certain vow made during a certain tempest at sea, in which he was only saved by the miraculous interposition of the Virgin Mary herself, built here a monastery which he called the House and King's Free Chapel of the Blessed Virgin of Grace—"in memoriam Gratiarum." The House obtained the Manor of Gravesend and other rich benefactions. There is little history that I have discovered belonging to it. The people commonly called it either New Abbey or Eastminster, and when it was surrendered its yearly value was £546, equivalent to about £10,000 a year as prices now obtain.


On the south side of Thames, besides St. Mary Overies already noticed, there were two great Houses.{134}

The first of these, St. Thomas's Hospital, was founded in the year 1213 by Richard, Prior of Bermondsey, for converts and poor children. He called it the Almery. Two years afterwards the Bishop of Winchester, Peter de Rupibus, now founded the place for Canons Regular. After the Dissolution it was purchased by the City of London for a hospital for the sick and poor.

The second, Bermondsey Abbey, though founded as early as 1081 by one Alwyn Childe, Citizen, and probably one of Fitz Stephen's thirteen conventual churches, and a most interesting House from many points of view, hardly comes within our limits. Portions of the Abbey were standing until the beginning of this century. All the then existing remains were figured by Wilkinson; I have not been able to find a fragment of it now remaining above-ground. Underground, vaults, arches, and crypts undoubtedly remain, and will be discovered from time to time as excavations are made for new buildings. These great Houses, all richly endowed with broad manors, devoured a good part of the whole country. Their schools, their learning, and their charities are matters of sentiment if not of history. For the time came when the school should become free of the monastery, and when the vast estates formed for the benefit of the monks should pass into the hands of the community. Charity to the poor is a thing beautiful in itself; better than to relieve the poor is to lessen the necessity of poverty.

But this long list of great Houses by no means exhausts the list. Besides these of the City, within it or else around it, were many others, not so rich, yet well{135} endowed. He, for instance, who walks along the broad highway of Whitechapel and Mile End, if he continues his walk, presently arrives at a most interesting and venerable church. It is quite small, with a low tower; it stands in the middle of the road, and has a long, narrow church-yard, cigar-shaped, before and behind it. This is the Church of St. Mary, or Bow Church. It was formerly the Church of a nunnery founded at Stratford-le-Bow by William the Conqueror; it was augmented by Stephen, enriched by Henry II. and Richard I., and it lasted till the Dissolution. Let us remember that every new endowment of a monastic House meant the sequestration of so many acres of land; they were taken from the country and given to the Church; they could never be sold; the tenants could never acquire property or rise in the world; all the lands owned by convents, churches, or colleges were lands withdrawn forever (as it seemed) from the healthy change and chance of private property.

I do not think that Bow Church is mentioned in any of the London hand-books. There is yet another and a much more important and interesting Foundation which, I believe, is not recommended by any guide-book to the visitor. Yet Waltham Abbey Church is a place of the greatest interest. It may almost be ranked with Winchester, Westminster, Canterbury, Caen, and Fontevrault as regards historic interest. Moreover, it is at this day a place of singular beauty, and is approached, by one who is well advised and can give up to the visit a whole afternoon and evening, by a most beautiful walk. The name Waltham has been explained as the place of the wall. In that{136} case, here was a "waste chester," a fortified enclosure found by the East Saxons when they overran the country, and left by them, as they left so many other places, to fall into decay. It seems most likely, however, that the name is Wealdham, the place of the forest.

The history of Waltham begins with a famous wedding feast. It is that of Tofig, the Royal Standard-bearer, and it caused the death of a king, because Hardeknut at this feast drank himself to death. The great Danish Thane built here a hunting lodge, the place being built in the midst of a mighty forest, of which vestiges remain to this day at Hampstead, Hornsey, and Epping. Now, Tofig held lands in Somersetshire as well as in Middlesex. And at a place called Lutgarsbury, which is now Montacute (mons acutus), a singular peaked hill, there lived a smith, who was moved in a dream to dig for a certain cross which, it was revealed to him, lay buried underground. He did so, and was rewarded by finding a splendid cross of black marble covered with silver and set with precious stones. When he had found it, he naturally thought it his duty to convey it to the nearest great monastery. In these days quite another course would suggest itself to the fortunate rustic. This smith of Lutgarsbury, therefore, placed the cross on the cart, and informed the oxen that he was going to drive them to Glastonbury, that holy House sacred to the memory of Joseph of Arimathea himself, and illustrious for its thorn flowering in midwinter. Miracle! The oxen refused to move. The parish priest, called in to advise, suggested Canterbury, only second to Glastonbury in sanctity. Still these inspired animals{137} refused to move. Perhaps Winchester might be tried. There they had the bones of St. Swithin. No, not even to Winchester would they carry the cross. "Then," said the priest, "let them carry the cross to your master, Tofig, at Waltham." Strange to say, though Waltham had no special sanctity, the intelligent creatures immediately set off with the greatest alacrity in the direction of Waltham, a hundred and{138} fifty miles away, and reached it after a ten days' journey, bearing the cross safely.


The story is preserved in a tract, De Inventione Sanctæ Crucis Walthamensis, and must be believed by all the faithful. Thane Tofig showed his sense of what was due to a miracle by building a church for the reception of the cross, and appointing two canons to serve the church. It is also said that at least sixty persons were cured by means of this miraculous cross, and that many of them continued to live near the church in order to testify to its powers. When, a few years later, Harold obtained possession of the estate, he built a larger and more splendid church on the site, and placed twelve instead of two canons in it, with a dean and school-master. The church was consecrated in the year 1060, in the presence of King Edward and Edith his Queen. On his way south to meet William, Harold stopped to pray before the cross. While he prayed, the head on the cross, which had before looked upward, bent forward, and so remained downcast. On the field of Senlac, Harold's cry was "The Holy Cross."

The body of the dead King was brought to the church and buried in the chancel. Only the nave remains, but there still stretches to the east a green space which was once the chancel, and somewhere under this green lawn lies the body of the last Saxon king.

William the Conqueror spared the Foundation. Henry II. replaced Harold's canons by monks of Rule. He is said to have rebuilt the church, but this is doubted. Probably some of the existing part, the nave, contains Harold's work, which was already Norman in character. When, in 1307, the body of Edward I. was{139} brought from the north to be buried in Westminster, it lay for seventeen days in the Abbey Church of Waltham. And the place is full of historical memories, not only of kings, but of worthies. Cranmer here advised Henry VIII. concerning his divorce. Thomas Fuller here wrote his Church History. Foxe here wrote his Book of the Martyrs. The church now stands on the north side of a small and rather mean town; it is in the midst of a large church-yard planted with yew-trees, and set with benches for the old to sit among the tombs. The grave of King Harold, somewhere under the turf, has over it the circled firmament instead of the lofty arch; instead of the monkish litanies it hears the song of the lark and thrush; instead of the whisper and the hushed footfall of the priests there is the voice of the children playing in the town and the multitudinous sound of work in the streets hard by. A happy exchange!

In the Old Jewry there was established by Henry III.—a Jewish synagogue being their first house—a branch of a very singular order—the Fratres de Penitentiâ Jesu or Fratres de Saccâ. They were mendicants of the Franciscan Rule, and were dressed in sackcloth to denote their poverty and their penitence. It was another and one of the last endeavors after a return to the early zeal and the first poverty of the Order. For a time the new brotherhood enjoyed considerable popularity; Queen Eleanor, wife of Edward I., took them under her protection and endowed the synagogue, which was all they had, with lands and houses. Unhappily the Council of Lyons, 1274, ordered that there should be recognized no other mendicant friars except the Dominicans, the Minorites, the{140} Carmelites, and the Augustines. So one supposes that these Brothers, just as they were getting comfortable in their synagogue, and beginning to reap the fruits of their austerities, had to turn out again, because no one was allowed to give them anything, and so went back to the common Orders, who would not allow even the wearing of the sackcloth. One is sorry for the poor men so proud of their sackcloth and with such encouraging recognition already won.


Again, there is not much in the modern Church of St. Giles in the Fields to suggest the past—a large stone church with a church-yard, standing in a miserable district, which for two hundred years has been the haunt of criminals and vagabonds.{141} Yet here was one of the very earliest Houses of piety and charity. Here was perhaps the earliest hospital founded in this land of Britain. It was instituted by Queen Maud, wife of Henry I., as a lazar-house for lepers and other poor sick men. What became of the lepers when there was no house for them? They crept into empty hovels; they perished miserably, outcast, neglected. So long as they were strong enough to creep out they begged their bread; when they could no longer crawl, they lay down and died. Thanks to the good Queen, some of them, at least, were cared for in their last days. A sweet fragrance of thanksgiving lingers still about the slums of St. Giles. The poor lepers who lie buried in that squalid church-yard still uplift a voice of praise for those who remember the sick and all that are desolate and sore oppressed.

Nor is there at Charing Cross much to remind the visitor of the past. Yet here was a Foundation somewhat unusual of its kind. It was an "alien" House. The Chapel, Hospital, or House of St. Mary Rounceval was founded by William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke, who gave certain tenements to the Prior of Rounceval, or de Roscida Valle, in the Diocese of Pampeluna, Navarre. It was a House for eleven brethren. Henry IV. suppressed all alien priories, this among the rest, but it was restored by Edward IV. as a Fraternity. After the Dissolution the site of the House was used by the Earl of Northampton for the palace which, under the name of Northumberland House, stood until the other day, the last of the river-side palaces.

Other great Houses are sometimes reckoned as London Houses, such as those of Barking, Wimbledon, Merton, and Chertsey; but these are outside our{142} limits. Nor can I touch here upon any of the religious Foundations of Westminster.

We have seen that when we lay down the monastic establishments upon the map, they occupy a very considerable part of the area within the walls. But when we consider, in addition, the great number of smaller Foundations, the colleges, hospitals, and fraternities with Houses, the parish churches and the church-yards, we shall begin to understand that the space required for ecclesiastical buildings alone in the confined area of a mediæval town gives a very fair idea of the power and authority of the Church.

After the Monasteries come the Colleges, so called, by which we must not understand seats of learning, but colleges of priests. There were several of these:

First, that of St. Thomas of Acon. The college was founded by Agnes, sister of Thomas à Becket. She endowed it with her father's property in London. It stood on the site of the present Mercers' Chapel, and was built on the spot where the new saint was born. The Mercers' Chapel, however, occupies only a portion of the splendid church which was destroyed in the Great Fire. The Foundation received many endowments, and at the Dissolution its income was nearly £300 a year, equal to twenty times as much of modern money. The City, naturally proud of its saint, observed a curious annual function in connection with this college. On the afternoon of the day when he was sworn at the Exchequer, the new Lord Mayor, with the Aldermen, met at this chapel and thence proceeded to St. Paul's, where first they prayed for the soul of Bishop William—who had been Bishop of London in the time of William the Conqueror.{143} This done, they repaired to the tomb of Gilbert à Becket, in Pardon Church-yard, and there prayed for all faithful souls departed. Then they returned to St. Thomas Acon and made an offering. Nothing is said about the evening, but one hopes that the day was concluded in the cheerful manner common at all times with London citizens.

Next, the College of Whittington.

This noble and wealthy merchant rebuilt the Church of St. Michael, called Paternoster in the Royal, and attached to it a College of St. Spirit and St. Mary for a master, from fellows, clerks, conducts, and choristers, together with an almshouse for thirteen poor men. They were all bound to pray for the soul of Sir Richard Whittington and his wife, Dame Alice; also for those of Sir William Whittington and Dame Joan, his wife, the parents of the founder. The college was swept away at the Dissolution; the almshouse remained and was rebuilt after the Fire. They are now removed to Highgate, but a conventual feeling still lingers about the buildings at the back of the church.

Then follows St. Michael's College, Crooked Lane.

Sir William Walworth, the valiant Mayor who killed Wat Tyler, founded a college of one master and nine chaplains to say mass in St. Michael's Church, the choir and the aisles of which he rebuilt.

And there was also Jesus Commons.

This Foundation seems to have resembled that of All-Souls, Oxford, in that its fellows had no duties to perform except the services of their chapel. It is described as a fair house in Dowgate (no doubt built round a small quadrangle), well furnished with everything and containing a good library, all for the use of{144} those who lived there—a peaceful, quiet place, without any history. One thinks of the day when it had to be dissolved, and the poor old priests, who had lived so long in the house, were driven forth into the streets. Not even submission to the king's supremacy could save the tenants of Jesus Commons. The house itself was pulled down and tenements built in its place.

A somewhat similar House was a small and very interesting Foundation called the Papey. It was a college for poor and aged priests. In any old map the church called St. Augustine Papey may be seen at the north end of St. Mary Axe nestled under the wall, with a piece of ground adjoining, which may have been a garden and may have been a burial-ground. We find the poor old priests taking part in funerals, and, I daresay, in any other function by which their slender provision might be augmented.

Next to the Colleges come the Hospitals. St. Bartholomew's, most ancient and richest, belongs to Norman London.

One who walks along the street called London Wall will chance upon a church-yard, on the north side of which still stands a fragment of the old wall. This church-yard, narrow and small, is surrounded on three sides by warehouses; on the fourth side it looks upon the street. On the other side of the street is a large block of warehouses, the monument of a most disgraceful and shameful act of vandalism. On this spot stood Elsing Spital. It was founded in the year 1329 as a priory and hospital for the maintenance of a hundred blind men by one William Elsing, its first Prior. On the dissolution of the religious houses, Elsing's{145} Spital surrendered with the rest, and was dissolved. What became of the blind men is not known. Then they took the fine Priory Church, and having pulled down the north aisle—on the site of which houses were built—they converted the rest of the church into the parish church of St. Alphege, which had previously stood in Cripplegate. The site of the old church{146} was turned into a carpenter's yard. The porch of St. Alphege remains of the ancient buildings. Of Sion College, which in course of time succeeded Elsing's Spital, we will speak in another place.


That splendid Foundation which rears its wards on the south of the Thames, over against the Houses of Parliament, St. Thomas's Hospital, was founded in 1313 as an almery, or house of alms for converts and poor children; but two years later the House was refounded on a much larger scale. After the Dissolution, its site, then in Southwark, was purchased by the citizens of London. To sum up, London was as well provided with hospitals in the fourteenth century as it was with convents and religious houses. They were St. Bartholomew's, Elsing Spital, St. Giles Cripplegate, St. Mary Spital, St. Mary of Bethlehem, St. Thomas Southwark, and the Lazar House of Southwark.

These hospitals, it must be borne in mind, were all religious Foundations governed by brethren of some Order. Religion ruled all. From the birth of the child to the death of the man religion, the forms, duties, and obedience due to religion, attended every one. No one thought it possible that it could be otherwise. The emancipation of mankind from the thrall of the Church, incomplete to the present day, had then hardly yet begun. All learning, all science, all the arts, all the professions, were in the hands of the Church. It is very easy to congratulate ourselves upon the removal of these chains. Yet they were certainly a necessary part of human development. Order, love of law, respect for human life, education in the power of self-government, such material advance as prepared{147} the way—all these things had to be taught. No one could teach them or enforce them but the priest, by the authority and in the wisdom of the Church. On the whole, he did his best. At the darkest time the Church was always a little in advance of the people; the Church at the lowest preserved some standard of morals, and of conduct; and even if the standard was low, why, it was higher than that of the laity.

When we see the Franciscans preaching to the people; the Carthusians cowering silent and gloomy in their cells; the Dominicans insisting on the letter of the Faith; kings and queens and great lords trying to get buried in the holy soil of a monastery church—let us recognize that, out of this discipline emerged the Londoner of Queen Bess, eager for adventure and for enterprise; the Londoner who was so stout for liberty that he drove out one king and then another king, and set aside a dynasty for the sacred cause; the Londoner of our own time, who is no whit inferior to his forefathers.

One other form of religious society must be mentioned—that of the Fraternity. There were Fraternities attached to every church. Those of the same trade in a parish—those of the same trade in many parishes—united together in a Fraternity—of the Blessed Virgin, of the Holy Trinity, of the Corpus Christi, of Saint this or that. All the Danes in London joined together to make a Fraternity—or all the Dutch. All the fish-mongers, or all the pepperers; they formed Fraternities—not yet trades-unions or companies—which had masses sung for the souls of their brethren; met in the churches on their Saint's Day; had solemn service and a procession and a{148} feast. It is only by such a bond as this that any calling or trade can become dignified, self-respecting, and independent. The Fraternities were founded, for the most part, before the Companies. These could not have existed at all but for the impetus to union given by the Fraternities. Common action—the most important discovery ever made for the common welfare—was made possible, among those who would otherwise have been torn asunder by rivalries and trade jealousies, by the Fraternities.


Among the thirty-one who formed the goodly company{149} which pilgrimized to Canterbury with Chaucer, twelve belonged to the Church. Was this proportion accidental? I think not. Chaucer placed in his company such a proportion of ecclesiastics as would be expected on such an occasion. The portraits of Chaucer are taken from the life: he saw them in the streets of London; in the houses; in the churches. It helps us to understand the City, only to read those portraits over again. Are they so well known that it is superfluous to do more than refer to them? Perhaps not. Let us take them briefly. There is the Prioress, who has with her a nun for chaplain and three priests. She is a gentlewoman, smiling, coy, dainty in her habits and in her dress; she is tender-hearted and fond of pets; the nun's wimple is plaited; on her arm she wears beads with a gold brooch—

On whiche was first y-written a crowned A,
And after Amor vincit omnia.

She is lively, affectionate, and amiable, but she affects dignity as a Prioress should. Clearly the superior of an Order whose vows are not too strict, and whose austerities respect the weakness of the sex. Who does not know, at the present day, hundreds of gentle maiden ladies who might sit for the portrait of the Prioress?

Then comes the Limitour, one who held the Bishop's license to hear confessions, and to officiate within a certain district. This fellow is everybody's friend so long as he gets paid: the country gentlemen like him, and the good wives like him, because he hears confessions sweetly, and enjoins easy penance; he could sing and play; he could drink; he knew all the{150} taverns; he was to appearance a merry, careless toper; in reality, he was courteous only to the rich, and thought continually about his gains. He kept his district to himself, buying off those who tried to practise within his limits. A natural product, the Limitour, of a time when outward forms make up all the religion that is demanded.

The Oxford Clerk has no benefice because he has no interest. All the money that he got he spent in books; his horse was lean; he himself was lean and hollow. He travels to foreign universities in order to converse with scholars.

The Monk was a big, brawny man, bald-headed, and his robe was trimmed with fur; a great hunter who kept greyhounds and had many horses. He was fat and in good point; he loved a fat swan best of any roast; he wore a gold pin with a love knot. Obedience to the Rules of his Order is not, it seems, ever expected of such a man.

The Town Parson, of low origin, a learned man who loved his people, and was content with poverty, and gave all to the poor, and was ever at their service in all weathers. The picture of the good clergyman might serve for to-day. His parish was wide, but he went about

Upon his feet, and in his hand a staf.
This noble ensaumple unto his scheep he yaf,
That first he wrought, and after that he taughte
Out of the gospel he the wordes caughte,
And this figùre he added yet thereto,
That if gold rustë, what scholde yren do?

The Sompnour, or Summoner, an officer of the{153} Ecclesiastical courts, is only half an ecclesiastic. His portrait is pure farce.

Lastly, there is the Pardoner. He is the hypocrite. He carried sham relics about with him, and sold pigs' bones for precious and holy remains warranted to heal sheep and cattle, to bring good harvests, to prolong life, to bring increase of sowing.

Of avarice and of swiche cursednesse
Is al my preching, for to make hem free
To yeve hir pense, and namely unto me.
. . . . . . . .
I wol non of the Apostles counterfete,
I wol have money, wollë, chese, and whete.
Al were it yeven of the pourest page,
Or of the pourest widewe in a village,
Al schulde hire children sterven for famine.

If such pictures as these could be drawn and freely circulated, the first step was taken towards the Reformation. Only the first step. Before Reformation comes there must be more than the clear eyes of the prophets able to see and to proclaim the truth. The eyes of the people must be washed so that they, too, can discern the truth behind these splendid vestments and this gorgeous structure of authority.

Such, so great, was the power and the wealth of the Church from the twelfth to the sixteenth century. Every street had its parish church with charities and Fraternities and endowments; colleges, Houses for priests, almeries, hospitals, were scattered all about the City; within and without the wall there were fifteen great Houses, whose splendor can only be understood by the ruins of Tintern, Glastonbury, Fountains, or Whitby. Every House was possessed of rich{154} manors and broad lands; every House had its treasury filled with title-deeds as well as with heaps of gold and silver plate; every House had its church crowded with marble monuments, adorned with rich shrines and blazing altars and painted glass, such as we can no longer make. Outside, the humblest parish church showed on its frescoed walls the warnings of Death and Judgment, the certainty of Heaven and Hell. And they thought—priest and people alike—that it was all going to last forever. Humanity had no other earthly hope than a continuance of the bells of l'Ile Sonnante.


[8] A kind of woollen shirt.

[9] The concluding psalms of the matin service.

[10] The Horæ, or canonical services, were matins, primes, tierce, sexts, nones, vespers, and complines.

[11] The Ambrosian ritual prevailed pretty generally till the time of Charlemagne, who adopted the Gregorian.





It is never safe to adopt in blind confidence the conclusions of the antiquary. He works with fragments; here it is a passage in an old deed; here a few lines of poetry; here a broken vase; here the capital of a column; here a drawing, cramped, and out of proportion, and dwarfed, from an illuminated manuscript. This kind of work tends to belittle everything; the splendid city becomes a mean, small town; King Solomon's Temple, glorious and vast, shrinks to the dimensions of a village conventicle; Behemoth himself becomes an alligator; Leviathan, a porpoise; history, read by this reducing lens, becomes a series of patriotic exaggerations. For instance, the late Dr. Brewer, a true antiquary, if ever there was one, could see in mediæval London nothing but a collection of mean and low tenements standing among squalid streets and filthy lanes. That this estimate of the City is wholly incorrect we shall now proceed to show. Any city, ancient or modern, might be described as consisting of mean and squalid houses, because in every city the poor outnumber the rich, and the small{156} houses of the poor are more frequent than the mansions of the wealthy.

Erected by Edward I. in memory of Queen Eleanor of Castile

When one who wishes to reconstruct a city of the past has obtained from the antiquary all he has discovered, and from the historian all he has to tell, there is yet another field of research open to him before he begins his task. It is the place itself—the terrain—the site of the town, or the modern town upon the site of the old. He must examine that; prowl about it; search into it; consider the neglected corners of it. I will give an example. Fifty years ago a certain learned antiquary and scholar visited the site of an ancient Syrian city, now sadly reduced, and little more than a village. He looked at the place—he did not explore it, he looked at it—he then read whatever history has found to say of it; he proceeded to prove that the place could never have been more than a small and insignificant town composed of huts and inhabited by fishermen. Those who spoke of it as a magnificent city he called enthusiasts or liars. Forty years passed; then another man came; he not only visited the site, but examined it, surveyed it, and explored it. This man discovered{157} that the place had formerly possessed a wall—the remains still existing—two miles and more in length; an acropolis, strong and well situated—the ruins still standing—protecting a noble city with splendid buildings. The antiquary, you see, dealing with little fragments, could not rise above them; his fragments seemed to belong to a whole which was puny and insignificant. This antiquary was Dr. Robinson, and the place was the once famous city of Tiberias, by the shores of the Galilean lake.

In exactly the same manner, he who would understand mediæval London must walk about modern London, but after he has read his historian and his antiquary, not before. Then he will be astonished to find how much is left, in spite of fires, reconstructions and demolitions, to illustrate the past.

Here a quaint little square, accessible only to foot-passengers, shut in, surrounded by merchants' offices, still preserves its ancient form of a court in a suppressed monastery. Since the church is close by, one ought to be able to assign the court to its proper purpose. The hall, the chapter-house, the kitchens and buttery, the abbot's residence, may have been built around this court.

Again, another little square set with trees, like a Place in Toulon or Marseilles, shows the former court of a royal palace. And here a venerable name survives telling what once stood on the site; here a dingy little church-yard marks the former position of a church as ancient as any in the City.

London is full of such survivals, which are known only to one who prowls about its streets, note-book in hand, remembering what he has read. Not one of{158} them can be got from the book antiquary, or from the guide-book. As one after the other is recovered the ancient city grows not only more vivid, but more picturesque and more splendid. London a city of low mean tenements? Dr. Brewer—Dr. Brewer! Why, I see great palaces along the river-bank between the quays and ports and warehouses. In the narrow lanes that rise steeply from the river I see other houses fair and stately, each with its gate-way, its square court, and its noble hall, high roofed, with its oriel-windows and its lantern. Beyond these narrow lanes, north of Watling Street and Budge Row, more of those houses—and still more, till we reach the northern part where the houses are nearly all small, because here the meaner sort and those who carry on the least desirable trades have those dwellings.



You have seen that London was full of rich monasteries, nunneries, colleges, and parish churches, in so much that it might be likened unto the Ile Sonnante of Rabelais. You have now to learn, what I believe no one has ever yet pointed out, that if it could be called a city of churches it was much more a city of palaces. This shall immediately be made clear. There were, in fact, in London itself more palaces than in Verona and Florence and Venice and Genoa all together. There was not, it is true, a line of marble palazzi along the banks of a Grande Canale; there was no Piazza della Signoria, no Piazza della Erbe to show these buildings. They were scattered about all over the City; they were built without regard to general effect and with no idea of decoration or picturesqueness; they lay hidden in narrow winding labyrinthine streets; the warehouses stood beside and between them; the common people dwelt in narrow courts around them; they faced each other on opposite sides of the lanes.

These palaces belonged to the great nobles and were their town houses; they were capacious enough to accommodate the whole of a baron's retinue, consisting sometimes of four, six, or even eight hundred men. Let us remark that the continual presence of these lords and their following did much more for the City than merely to add to its splendor by the erecting of great houses. By their residence they prevented the place from becoming merely a trading centre or an aggregate of merchants; they kept the citizens in touch with the rest of the kingdom; they made the people of London understand that they belonged to the Realm of England. When Warwick, the King-maker,{160} rode through the streets to his town-house, followed by five hundred retainers in his livery; when King Edward the Fourth brought wife and children to the City and left them there under the protection of the Londoners while he rode out to fight for his crown; when a royal tournament was held in Chepe—the Queen and her ladies looking on—then the very school-boys learned and understood that there was{161} more in the world than mere buying and selling, importing and exporting; that everything must not be measured by profit; that they were traders indeed, and yet subjects of an ancient crown; that their own prosperity stood or fell with the well-doing of the country. This it was which made the Londoners ardent politicians from very early times; they knew the party leaders who had lived among them; the City was compelled to take a side, and the citizens quickly perceived that their own side always won—a thing which gratified their pride. In a word, the presence in their midst of king and nobles made them look beyond their walls. London was never a Ghent; nor was it a Venice. It was never London for itself against the world, but always London for England first, and for its own interests next.


Again, the City palaces, the town-houses of the nobles, were at no time, it must be remembered, fortresses. The only fortress of the City was the White Tower. The houses were neither castellated nor fortified nor garrisoned. They were entered by a gate, but there was neither ditch nor portcullis. The gate—only a pair of wooden doors—led into an open court round which the buildings stood. Examples of this way of building may still be seen in London. For instance, Staple Inn, or Barnard's Inn, affords an excellent illustration of a mediæval mansion. There are in each two square courts with a gate-way leading from the road into the Inn. Between the courts is a hall with its kitchen and buttery. Clifford's Inn, Gray's Inn and Old Square, Lincoln's Inn are also good examples. Sion College, before they wickedly destroyed it, showed the hall and the court. Hampton{162} Court is a late example, the position of the Hall having been changed. Gresham House was built about a court. So was the Mansion House. Till a few years ago Northumberland House, at Charing Cross, illustrated the disposition of such mansions. Those who walk down Queen Victoria Street in the City pass on the north side a red brick house standing round three sides of a quadrangle. This is the Herald's College; a few years ago it preserved its fourth side with its gate-way. Four hundred years ago this was the town-house of the Earls of Derby. Restore the front and you have the size of a great noble's town palace, yet not one of the largest. If you wish to understand the disposition of such a building as a{163} nobleman's town-house, compare it with the Quadrangle of Clare, or that of Queens', Cambridge. Derby House was burned down in the Fire, and was rebuilt without its hall, kitchen, and butteries, for which there was no longer any use. As it was before the Fire, a broad and noble arch with a low tower, but showing no appearance of fortification, opened into the square court which was used as an exercising ground for the men at arms. In the rooms around the court was their sleeping accommodation; at the side or opposite the entrance stood the hall where the whole household took meals; opposite to the hall was the kitchen with its butteries; over the butteries was the room called the Solar, where the Earl and Countess slept; beyond the hall was another room called the Lady's Bower, where the ladies could retire from the rough talk of the followers. We have already spoken of this arrangement. The houses beside the river were provided with stairs, at the foot of which was the state barge in which my Lord and my Lady took the air on fine days, and were rowed to and from the Court at Westminster.


There remains nothing of these houses. They are, with one exception, all swept away. Yet the description of one or two, the site of others, and the actual remains of one sufficiently prove their magnificence. Let us take one or two about which something is known. For instance, there is Baynard's Castle, the name of which still survives in that of Baynard's Castle Ward, and in that of a wharf which is still called by the name of the old palace.


Baynard's Castle stood first on the river-bank close to the Fleet Tower and the western extremity of the{164} wall. The great house which afterwards bore this name was on the bank, but a little more to the east. There was no house in the City more interesting than this. Its history extends from the Norman Conquest to the Great Fire—exactly six hundred years; and during the whole of this long period it was a great palace. First it was built by one Baynard, follower of William. It was forfeited in A.D. 1111, and given to Robert Fitzwalter, son of Richard, Earl of Clare, in whose family the office of Castellan and Standard-bearer to the City of London became hereditary. His descendant, Robert, in revenge for private injuries, took part with the Barons against King John, for which the King ordered Baynard's Castle to be destroyed. Fitzwalter, however, becoming reconciled to the King, was permitted to rebuild his house. It was again destroyed, this time by fire, in 1428. It was rebuilt by Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, on whose attainder it reverted to the crown. During one of these rebuildings it was somewhat shifted in position. Richard, Duke of York, next had it, and lived here with his following of four hundred gentlemen and men at arms. It was in the hall of Baynard's Castle that Edward IV. assumed the title of king, and summoned the bishops, peers, and judges to meet him{165} in council. Edward gave the house to his mother, and placed in it for safety his wife and children before going out to fight the battle of Barnet. Here Buckingham offered the crown to Richard.

Alas! why would you heap these cares on me?
I am unfit for state and majesty;
I do beseech you—take it not amiss—
I cannot, nor I will not, yield to you.

Henry VIII. lived in this palace, which he almost entirely rebuilt. Prince Henry, after his marriage with Catherine of Aragon, was conducted in great{166} state up the river, from Baynard's Castle to Westminster, the Mayor and Commonalty of the City following in their barges. In the time of Edward VI. the Earl of Pembroke, whose wife was sister to Queen Catharine Parr, held great state in this house. Here he proclaimed Queen Mary. When Mary's first Parliament was held, he proceeded to Baynard's Castle, followed by "2000 horsemen in velvet coats with their laces of gold and gold chains, besides sixty gentlemen in blue coats with his badge of the green dragon." This powerful noble lived to entertain Queen Elizabeth at Baynard's Castle with a banquet, followed by fireworks. The last appearance of the place in history is when Charles II. took supper there just before the Fire swept over it and destroyed it.


Another house by the river was that called Cold Harborough, or Cold Inn.

This house stood to the west of the old Swan Stairs. It was built by a rich City merchant, Sir John Poultney, four times Mayor of London. At the end of the fourteenth century it belonged, however, to John Holland, Duke of Exeter, son of Thomas Holland, Duke of Kent, and Joan Plantagenet, the "Fair Maid of Kent." He was half-brother to King Richard II., whom here he entertained. Richard III. gave it to the Heralds for their college. They were turned out, however, by Henry VII., who gave the house to his mother, Margaret, Countess of Richmond. His son gave it to the Earl of Shrewsbury, by whose son it was taken down, one knows not why, and mean tenements erected in its place for the river-side working-men.


Another royal residence was the house called the{169} Erber. This house also has a long history. It is said to have been first built by the Knight Pont de l'Arche, founder of the Priory of St. Mary Overies. Edward III. gave it to Geoffrey le Scrope. It passed from him to John, Lord Neville, of Raby, and so to his son Ralph Neville, Earl of Westmoreland, the stanch supporter of Henry IV. From him the Erber passed into the hands of another branch of the Nevilles, the Earls of Salisbury and Warwick. The King-maker resided here, with a following so numerous that six oxen were daily consumed for breakfast alone, and any person who was allowed within the gates could take away as much meat, sodden and roast, as he could carry upon a long dagger. After his death, George, Duke of Clarence—"false, fleeting, perjured Clarence"—obtained a grant of the house, in right of his wife, Isabel, daughter of Warwick. Richard, Duke of Gloucester, succeeded, and called it the King's Palace during his brief reign. Edward, son of the Duke of Clarence, then obtained it. In the year 1584 the place, which seems to have fallen into decay, was rebuilt by Sir Thomas Pulsdon, Lord Mayor. Its last illustrious occupant, according to Stow, was Sir Francis Drake.


We are fortunate in having left one house at least, or a fragment of one, out of the many London palaces. The Fire of 1666 spared Crosby Place, and though most of the old mansion has been pulled down, there yet remains the Hall, the so-called Throne Room, and the so-called Council Room. The mansion formerly covered the greater part of what is now called Crosby Square. It was built by a simple citizen, a grocer and Lord Mayor, Sir John Crosby, in the fifteenth century; a man of great wealth and great position;{170} a merchant, diplomatist, and ambassador. He rode north to welcome Edward IV. when he landed at Ravenspur; he was sent by the King on a mission to the Duke of Burgundy and to the Duke of Brittany. Shakespeare makes Richard of Gloucester living in this house as early as 1471, four years before the death of Sir John Crosby, a thing not likely. But he was living here at the death of Edward IV., and here he held his levées before his usurpation of the crown. In this hall, where now the City clerks snatch a hasty dinner, sat the last and worst of the Plantagenets, thinking of the two boys who stood between him and the crown. Here he received the news of their murder. Here he feasted with his friends. The place is charged with the memory of Richard Plantagenet. Early in the next century another Lord Mayor obtained it, and lent it to the ambassador of the Emperor Maximilian. It passed next into the hands of a third citizen, also Lord Mayor, and was bought in 1516 by Sir Thomas More, who lived here for seven years, and wrote in this house his Utopia and his Life of Richard the Third. His friend, Antonio Bonvici, a merchant of Lucca, next lived in the house. To him More wrote his well-known letter from the Tower. William Roper, More's son-in-law, and William Rustill, his nephew; Sir Thomas d'Arcy; William Bond, Alderman and Sheriff, and merchant adventurer; Sir John Spencer, ancestor of Lord Northampton; Mary, Countess of Pembroke, and sister of Sir Philip Sidney—

The gentlest shepherdess that lived that day;
And most resembling, both in shape and spirit
Her brother dear—

the Earl of Northampton, who accompanied Charles I. to Madrid on his romantic journey; Sir Stephen Langham—were successive owners or occupants of this house. It was partly destroyed by fire—not the Great Fire—in the reign of Charles II. The Hall, which escaped, was for seventy years a Presbyterian meeting-house; it then became a packer's warehouse. Sixty years ago it was partly restored, and became a literary institution. It is now a restaurant, gaudy with color and gilding. The Duc de Biron, ambassador from France in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, was lodged here, with four hundred noblemen and gentlemen in his train. And here also was lodged the Duc de Sully.


In a narrow street in the City, called Tower Royal—Tour De La Reole, built by merchants from Bordeaux—survives the name of a house where King{174} Stephen lived in the short intervals when he was not fighting; King Richard II. gave it to his mother, and called it the Queen's Wardrobe; he afterwards assigned it to Leon III., King of Armenia, who had been dispossessed by the Turks. Richard III. gave it to John, Duke of Norfolk, who lived here until his death at the battle of Bosworth Field. There is no description of the house, which must have had a tower of some kind, and there is no record of its demolition: Stow only says that "of late times it has been neglected and turned into stabling for the king's horses, and is now let out to divers men, and is divided into tenements."

The Heralds' College in Queen Victoria Street, already mentioned, stands on the site of Derby House. Here the first Earl, who married the mother of Henry VII., lived. Here the Princess Elizabeth of York was the guest of the Earl during the usurpation of Richard. The house was destroyed in the Fire and rebuilt in a quadrangle, of which the front portion was removed to make room for the new street.


Half a dozen great houses do not make a city of palaces. That is true. Let us find others. Here, then, is a list, by no means exhaustive, drawn up from the pages of Stow. The Fitz Alans, Earls of Arundel, had their town house in Botolph Lane, Billingsgate, down to the end of the sixteenth century. The street is and always has been narrow, and, from its proximity to the fish-market, is and always has been unsavory. The Earls of Northumberland had town houses successively in Crutched Friars, Fenchurch Street, and Aldersgate Street. The Earls of Worcester lived in Worcester Lane, on the river-bank;{177} the Duke of Buckingham on College Hill: observe how the nobles, like the merchants, built their houses in the most busy part of the town. The Beaumonts and the Huntingdons lived beside Paul's Wharf; the Lords of Berkeley had a house near Blackfriars; Doctor's Commons was the town house of the Blounts, Lords Mountjoy. Close to Paul's Wharf stood the mansion once occupied by the widow of Richard, Duke of York, mother of Edward IV., Clarence, and Richard III. Edward the Black Prince lived on Fish Street Hill; the house was afterwards turned into an inn. The De la Poles had a house in Lombard Street. The De Veres, Earls of Oxford, lived first in St. Mary Axe, and afterwards in Oxford Court, St. Swithin's Lane; Cromwell, Earl of Essex, had a house in Throgmorton Street. The Barons Fitzwalter had a house where now stands Grocers' Hall, Poultry. In Aldersgate Street were houses of the Earl of Westmoreland, the Earl of Northumberland, and the Earl of Thanet, Lord Percie, and the Marquis of Dorchester. Suffolk Lane marks the site of the "Manor of the Rose," belonging successively to the Suffolks and the Buckinghams; Lovell's Court, Paternoster Row, marks the site of the Lovells' mansion; between Amen Corner and Ludgate Street stood Abergavenny House, where lived in the reign of Edward II. the Earl of Richmond and Duke of Brittany, grandson of Henry III. Afterwards it became the house of John Hastings, Earl of Pembroke, who married Lady Margaret, daughter of Edward III. It passed to the Nevilles, Earls of Abergavenny, and from them to the Stationers' Company. Warwick Lane runs over Warwick House. The Sidneys, Earls of Leicester, lived in the Old Bailey.{178} The Staffords, Dukes of Buckingham, lived in Milk Street.


Such a list, numbering no fewer than thirty-five palaces—which is not exhaustive and does not include the town houses of the Bishops and great Abbots, nor the halls of the companies, many of them very noble, nor the houses used for the business of the City, as Blackwell Hall and Guildhall—is, I think, sufficient{179} to prove my statement that London was a city of palaces.

Nothing, again, has been said about the houses of the rich merchants, some of which were much finer than those of the nobles. Crosby Hall, as has been seen, was built by a merchant. In Basing Lane (now swallowed up by those greedy devourers of old houses, Cannon Street and Queen Victoria Street), stood Gerrard's Hall, with a Norman Crypt and a high-roofed Hall, where once they kept a Maypole and called it Giant Gerrard's staff. This was the hall of the house built by John Gisors, Mayor in the year 1305. The Vintners' Hall stands on the site of a great house built by Sir John Stodie, Mayor in 1357. In the house called the Vintry, Sir Henry Picard, Mayor, once entertained a very noble company indeed. Among them were King Edward III., King John of France, King David of Scotland, the King of Cyprus, and the Black Prince. After the banquet they gambled, the Lord Mayor defending the bank against all comers with dice and hazard. The King of Cyprus lost his money, and, unfortunately, his Royal temper as well. To lose the latter was a common infirmity among the kings of those ages. The Royal Rage of the proverb is one of those subjects which the essayist enters in his notes and never finds the time to treat. Then up spake Sir Henry, with admonition in his voice: Did his Highness of Cyprus really believe that the Lord Mayor, a merchant adventurer of London, whose ships rode at anchor in the Cyprian King's port of Famagusta, should seek to win the money of him or of any other king? "My Lord and King," he said, "be not aggrieved. I court not your gold, but your play; for I{180} have not bidden you hither that you might grieve." And so gave the king his money back. But John, King of France, and David, King of Scotland, and the Black Prince murmured and whispered that it was not fitting for a king to take back money lost at play. And the good old King Edward stroked his gray beard, but refrained from words.

Another entertainer of kings was Whittington. What sayeth the wise man?

"Seest thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings."


They used to show an old house in Hart Lane,{181} rich with carved wood, as Whittington's, but he must have lived in his own parish of St. Michael's Paternoster Royal, and, one is pretty certain, on the spot where was afterwards built his college, which stood on the north side of the church. Here he entertained Henry of Agincourt and Katherine, his bride, with a magnificence which astonished the king. But Whittington knew what he was doing; the banquet was not ostentation and display; its cost was far more than repaid by the respect for the wealth and power of the city which it nourished and maintained in the kingly mind. The memory of this and other such feasts, we may be very sure, had its after effect even upon those most masterful of sovereigns, Henry VIII. and Queen Bess. On this occasion it was nothing that the tables groaned with good things, and glittered with gold and silver plate; it was nothing that the fires were fed with cedar and perfumed wood. For this princely Mayor fed these fires after dinner with nothing less than the king's bonds to the amount of £60,000. In purchasing power that sum would now be represented by a million and a quarter.

A truly royal gift.

It was not given to many merchants, "sounding always the increase of their winning," thus to thrive and prosper. Most of them lived in more modest dwellings. All of them lived in comparative discomfort, according to modern ideas. When we read of mediæval magnificence we must remember that the standard of what we call comfort was much lower in most respects than at present. In the matter of furniture, for instance, though the house was splendid inside and out with carvings, coats of arms painted and gilt, there{182} were but two or three beds in it, the servants sleeping on the floor; the bedrooms were small and dark; the tables were still laid on trestles, and removed when the meal was finished; there were benches where we have chairs; and for carpet they had rushes or mats of plaited straw; and though the tapestry was costly, the windows were draughty, and the doors ill-fitting. When, with the great commercial advance of the fourteenth century, space by the river became more valuable, the disposition of the Hall, with its little court, became necessarily modified. The house, which was warehouse as well as residence, ran up into several stories high—the earliest maps of London show many such houses beside Queenhithe, and in the busiest and most crowded parts of the City; on every story there was a wide door for the reception of bales and crates; a rope and pulley were fixed to a beam at the highest gable for hoisting and lowering the goods. The front of the house was finely ornamented with carved wood-work. One may still see such houses—streets full of them—in the ancient City of Hildesheim, near Hanover.


On the river-bank, exactly under what is now Cannon Street Railway Station, stood the Steelyard, Guildæ Aula Teutonicorum. In appearance it was a house of stone, with a quay towards the river, a square court, a noble Hall, and three arched gates towards Thames Street. This was the house of the Hanseatic League, whose merchants for three hundred years and more enjoyed the monopoly of importing hemp, corn, wax, steel, linen cloths, and, in fact, carried on the whole trade with Germany and the Baltic, so that until the London merchants pushed out their ships{183} into the Mediterranean and the Levant their foreign trade was small, and their power of gaining wealth small in proportion. This strange privilege granted to foreigners grew by degrees. At first, unless the{184} foreign merchants of the Hanse towns and of Flanders and of France had not brought over their wares they could not have sold them, because there were no London merchants to import them. Therefore they came, and they came to stay. They gradually obtained privileges; they were careful to obey the laws, and give no cause for jealousy or offence; and they kept their privileges, living apart in their own college, till Edward VI. at last took them away. In memory of their long residence in the city, the merchants of Hamburg in the reign of Queen Anne presented the church where they had worshipped, All Hallows the Great, with a magnificent screen of carved wood. The church, built by Wren after the Fire, is a square box of no architectural pretensions, but is glorified by this screen.

The great (comparative) wealth of the City is shown by the proportion it was called upon to pay towards the king's loans. In 1397, for instance, London was assessed at £6,666 13s. 4d., while Bristol, which came next, was called upon for £800 only; Norwich for £333, Boston for £300, and Plymouth for no more than £20. And in the graduated poll tax of 1379, the Lord Mayor of London had to pay £4—the same as an Earl, a Bishop, or a mitred Abbot, while the Aldermen were regarded as on the same line with Barons, and paid £2 each.

Between the merchant adventurers, who sometimes entertained kings and had a fleet of ships always on the sea, and the retail trader there was as great a gulf then as at any after-time. Between the retail trader, who was an employer of labor, and the craftsman there was a still greater gulf. The former lived in{185} plenty and in comfort. His house was provided with a spacious hearth, and windows, of which the upper part, at least, was of glass. The latter lived in one of the mean and low tenements, which, according to Dr. Brewer, made up the whole of London. There were a great many of those, because there are always a great many poor in a large town. Nay, there were narrow lanes and filthy courts where there were nothing but one-storied hovels, built of wattle and clay, the roof thatched with reeds, the fire burning in the middle of the room, the occupants sleeping in old Saxon fashion, wrapped in rugs around the central fire. The lanes and courts were narrow and unpaved, and filthy with every kind of refuse. In those crowded and fetid streets the plague broke out, fevers always lingered, the children died of putrid throat, and in these places began the devastating fires that from time to time swept the City.

The main streets of the City were not mean at all; they were broad, well built, picturesque. If here and there a small tenement reared its timbered and plastered front among the tall gables, it added to the beauty of the street; it broke the line. Take Chepe, for instance, the principal seat of retail trade. At the western end stood the Church of St. Michael le Quern where Paternoster Row begins. On the north side were the churches of St. Peter West Chepe, St. Thomas Acon, St. Mary Cole Church, and St. Mildred. On the south side were the churches of St. Mary le Bow and St. Mary Woolchurch. In the streets running north and south rose the spires of twenty other churches. On the west side of St. Mary le Bow stood a long stone gallery, from which the Queen and her{186} ladies could witness the tournaments and the ridings. In the middle was the "Standard," with a conduit of fresh-water; there were two crosses, one being that erected by Edward I., to mark a resting-place of his dead Queen. Round the "Standard" were booths. At the west end of Chepe were selds, which are believed to have been open bazaars for the sale of goods. Another cross stood at the west end, close to St. Michael le Quern. Here executions of citizens were held; on its broad road the knights rode in tilt on great days; the stalls were crowded with those who came to look on and to buy, the street was noisy with the voices of those who displayed their wares and called upon the folk to buy—buy—buy. You may hear the butchers in Clare Market or the costers in Whitecross Street keeping up the custom to the present day. The citizens walked and talked; the Alderman went along in state, accompanied by his officers; they brought out prisoners and put them into the pillory; the church bells clashed, and chimed, and tolled; bright cloth of scarlet hung from the upper windows if it was a feast day, or if the Mayor and Aldermen had a riding; the streets were bright with the colors of that many-colored time, when the men vied with the women in bravery of attire, and when all classes spent upon raiment sums of money, in proportion to the rest of their expenditure, which sober nineteenth-century folk can hardly believe. Chaucer is full of the extravagance in dress. There is the young squire—

Embroidered was he as if it were a mead
All full of freshest flowers, white and red.


Or the carpenter's wife—

A seynt [girdle] she wered barred all of silk
In barm cloth eke as white as mornë milk
Upon her lendes [loins] full of many a gore.
White was her smock and browded all before,
And eke behind on her coler about
Of cole black silk within and eke without.

Or the wife of Bath, with her scarlet stockings and her fine kerchiefs. And the knights decked their horses as gayly as themselves. And the city notables went clad in gowns of velvet or silk lined with fur; their hats were of velvet with gold lace; their doublets were of rich silk; they carried thick gold chains about their necks, and massive gold rings upon their fingers.

With all this outward show, this magnificence of raiment, these evidences of wealth, would one mark the small tenements which here and there, even in Chepe, stood between the churches and the substantial merchants' houses? We measure the splendors of a city by its best, and not by its worst.

The magnates of London, from generation to generation, showed far more wisdom, tenacity, and clearness of vision than can be found in the annals of Venice, Genoa, or any other mediæval city. Above all things, they maintained the city liberties and the rights obtained from successive kings; yet they were always loyal so long as loyalty was possible; when that was no longer possible, as in the case of Richard II., they threw the whole weight of their wealth and influence into the other side. If fighting was wanted, they were ready to send out their youths to fight—nay, to join the army themselves; witness the story{190} of Sir John Philpot, Mayor in 1378. There was a certain Scottish adventurer named Mercer. This man had gotten together a small fleet of ships, with which he harassed the North Sea and did great havoc among the English merchantmen. Nor could any remonstrance addressed to the Crown effect any redress. What was to be done? Clearly, if trade was to be carried on at all, this enemy must be put down. Therefore, without much ado, the gallant Mayor gathered together at his own expense a company of a thousand stout fellows, put them on board, and sallied forth, himself their admiral, to fight this piratical Scot. He found him, in fact, in Scarborough Bay with his prizes. Sir John fell upon him at once, slew him and most of his men, took all his ships, including the prizes, and returned to the port of London with his spoils, including fifteen Spanish ships which had joined the Scotchman. Next year the king was in want of other help. The arms and armor of a thousand men were in pawn. Sir John took them out. And because the king wanted as many ships as he could get for his expedition into France, Sir John gave him all his own, with Mercer's ships and the Spanish prizes.


To treat adequately of the foreign trade of the city during these centuries would require a volume. It has, in fact, received more than a single volume.[12] The English merchantman sailed everywhere. There were commercial treaties with Brittany, Burgundy, Portugal, Castile, Genoa, and Venice. English merchants who traded with Prussia were empowered by Henry IV. to meet together and elect a governor for the adjustment{191} of quarrels and the reparation of injuries. The same privilege was extended to those who traded with Holland, Zealand, Brabant, Flanders, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. The Hanseatic merchants enjoyed the privileges on the condition—not always obtained—that English merchants should have the same rights as the Hanseatic League. It is easy to understand what commodities were imported from these countries. The trade was carried on under the conditions of continued fighting. First the seas swarmed with Scotch; French and Flemish ships were always on the lookout for English merchant vessels—there was no peace on the water. Then there were English pirates known as rovers of the sea, who sailed about, landing on the coasts, pillaging small towns, and robbing farms. Sandwich was burned, Southampton was burned. London protected herself with booms and chains. The merchant vessels for safety sailed in{192} fleets. Again, it was sometimes dangerous to be resident in a foreign town in time of war; in 1429 Bergen was destroyed by the Danes, and the English merchants were massacred; about the same time English seamen ravaged Ireland and murdered the Royal Bailiff; reprisals and quarrels and claims were constantly going on. Yet trade increased, and wealth with it. Other foreign merchants settled in London besides the Hansards. Florentines came to buy wool, and to lend money, and to sell chains and rings and jewelled work. Genoese came to buy alum and woad and to sell weapons. Venetians came to sell spices, drugs, and fine manufactured things.

The grete galleys of Veness and Fflorence
Be wel ladene with thynges of complacence,
All spicerye and of groceres ware,
Wyth swete wynes alle manere of cheffare.
Apes and japes and marmettes taylede,
Trifles—trifles, that lytel have avaylede.
And thynges with wyche they fetely blere our eye,
With thynges not enduring that we bye.
Ffor moche of thys cheffare that is wastable,
Myght be forebore for diere and dissevable.

Towards the end of the fourteenth century began the first grumblings of the great religious storm that was to burst upon the world a hundred years later. The common sort of Londoners, attached to their Church and to its services, were as yet profoundly orthodox and unquestioning. But it is certain that in the year 1393 the Archbishop of York complained formally to the king of the Mayor, Aldermen, and Sheriffs—Whittington was then one of the Sheriffs—that they were male creduli, that is, of little faith; upholders{193} of Lollards, detractors of religious persons, detainers of tithes, and defrauders of the poor. When persecutions, however, began in earnest, not a single citizen of position was charged with heresy. Probably the Archbishop's charge was based upon some quarrel over tithes and Church dues. At the same time, no one who has read Chaucer can fail to understand that men's minds were made uneasy by the scandals of religion, the contrast between profession and practice. It required no knowledge of theology to remark that the monk who kept the best of horses in his stable and the best of hounds in his kennel, and rode to the chase as gallantly attired as any young knight, was a strange follower of the Benedictine rule. Nor was it necessary to be a divine in order to compare the lives of the Franciscans with their vows. Yet the authority of the Church seemed undiminished, while its wealth, its estates, its rank, and its privileges gave it enormous power. It is not pretended that the merchants of London were desirous of new doctrines, or of any tampering with the mass, or any lowering of sacerdotal pretensions. Yet there can be no doubt that they desired reform in some shape, and it seems as if they saw the best hope of reform in raising the standard of education. Probably the old monastery schools had fallen into decay. We find, for instance, a simultaneous movement in this direction long before Henry VI. began to found and to endow his schools. Whittington bequeathed a sum of money to create a library for the Grey Friars; his close friend and one of his executors, John Carpenter, Rector of St. Mary Magdalen, founded the City of London School, now more flourishing and of greater{194} use than ever; another friend of Whittington, Sir John Nicol, Master of the College of St. Thomas Acon, petitioned the Parliament for leave to establish four schools; Whittington's own company, the Mercers, founded a school—which still exists—upon his death. The merchants rebuilt churches, bought advowsons and gave them to the corporation, founded charities, and left doctrine to scholars. Yet the century which contains such men as Wycliff, Chaucer, Gower, Occleve, William of Wykeham, Fabian, and others, was not altogether one of blind and unquestioning obedience. And it is worthy of remark that the first Master of Whittington's Hospital was that Reginald Pecock who afterwards, as Bishop of Chichester, was charged with Lollardism, and imprisoned for life as a punishment. He was kept in a single closed chamber in Thorney Abbey, Isle of Ely. He was never allowed out of this room; no one was to speak with him except the man who waited upon him; he was to have neither paper, pen, ink, or books, except a Bible, a mass-book, a psalter, and a legendary.


Among the city worthies of that time may be introduced Sir William Walworth, the slayer of Jack Cade; Sir William Sevenoke, the first known instance of the poor country lad of humble birth working his way to the front; he was also the first to found and endow a grammar-school for his native town; Sir Robert Chichele, whose brother Henry was Archbishop of Canterbury and founder of All Souls', Oxford; this Robert, whose house was on the site of Bakers' Hall in Harp Lane, provided by his will that on his commemoration day two thousand four hundred poor householders of the city should be regaled with a dinner{197} and have twopence in money; Sir John Rainwell, who left houses and lands to discharge the tax called the Fifteenth in three parishes; Sir John Wells, who brought water from Tyburn; and Sir William Estfield, who brought water from Highbury. Other examples show that the time for endowing monasteries had passed away. When William Elsing, early in the fourteenth century, thought of doing something with his money, he did not leave it to the Franciscans for masses, but he endowed a hospital for a hundred blind men; and a few years later John Barnes gave the city a strong box with three locks, containing a thousand marks, which were to be lent to young men beginning business—an excellent gift. When there was a great dearth of grain, it was the Lord Mayor who fitted out ships at his own expense and brought corn from Prussia, which lowered the price of flour by one-half. In the acts of these grave magistrates one can read the deep love they bore to the City, their earnest striving for the administration with justice of just laws, for the maintenance of good work, for the relief of the poor, for the provision of water, and for{198} education. Lollardism was nothing to them. What concerned them in religion was the luxury, the sloth, and the scandalous lives of the religious. Order they loved, because it is only by the maintenance of order that a city can flourish. Honesty in work of all kinds they loved, so that while they hated the man who pretended to do true work and proffered false work, it grieved and shamed them to see one who professed the life of purity wallow in wickedness, like a hog in mud. Obedience they required, because without obedience there is no government. As for the working-man, the producer, the servant, having any share in the profits or any claim to payment beyond his wage, such a thought never entered the head of Whittington or Sevenoke. They were rulers; they were masters; they paid the wage; they laid their hands upon the profits.


Tradition—which is always on the side of the weak—maintains that the great merchants of the past, for the most part, made their way upward from the poorest and most penniless conditions. They came from the plough-tail or from the mechanic's shop; they entered the city paved with gold, friendless, with no more than twopence, if so much, in their pockets; they received scant favor and put up with rough fare. Then tradition makes a jump, and shows them, on the next lifting of the curtain, prosperous, rich, and in great honor. The typical London merchant is Dick Whittington, whose history was blazoned in the cheap books for all to read. One is loath to disturb venerable beliefs, but the facts of history are exactly the opposite. The merchant adventurer, diligent in his business, and therefore rewarded, as the wise man{199} prophesied for him, by standing before princes, though he began life as a prentice, also began it as a gentleman. He belonged, at the outset, to a good family, and had good friends both in the country and the town. Piers Plowman never could and never did rise to great eminence in the city. The exceptions, which are few indeed, prove the rule. Against such a case as Sevenoke, the son of poor parents, who rose to be Lord Mayor, we have a hundred others in which the successful merchant starts with the advantage of gentle birth. Take, for example, the case of Whittington himself.

He was the younger son of a Gloucestershire country gentleman, Sir William Whittington, a knight who was outlawed for some offence. His estate was at a village called Pauntley. In the church may still be seen the shield of Whittington impaling Fitzwarren—Richard's wife was Alice Fitzwarren. His mother belonged to the well-known Devonshire family of Mansell, and was a cousin of the Fitzwarrens. The Whittingtons were thus people of position and consideration, of knightly rank, armigeri, living on their own estates, which were sufficient but not large.

For a younger son in the fourteenth century the choice of a career was limited. He might enter the service of a great lord and follow his fortunes. In that turbulent time there was fighting to be had at home as well as in France, and honor to be acquired, with rank and lands, by those who were fortunate. He might join the livery of the king. He might enter the Church: but youths of gentle blood did not in the fourteenth century flock readily to the Church. He might remain on the family estate and become a{200} bailiff. He might go up to London and become a lawyer. There were none of the modern professions—no engineers, architects, bankers, journalists, painters, novelists, or dramatists; but there was trade.

Young Dick Whittington therefore chose to follow trade; rather that line of life was chosen for him. He was sent to London under charge of carriers, and placed in the house of his cousin, Sir John Fitzwarren, also a gentleman before he was a merchant, as an apprentice. As he married his master's daughter, it is reasonable to suppose that he inherited a business, which he subsequently improved and developed enormously. If we suppose a single man to be the owner of the Cunard Line of steamers, running the cargoes on his own venture and for his own profit, we may understand something of Whittington's position in the city. The story of the cat is persistently attached to his name; it begins immediately after his death; it was figured on the buildings which his executors erected; it formed part of the decorations of the family mansion at Gloucester. It is therefore impossible to avoid the conclusion that he did himself associate the sale of a cat—then a creature of some value and rarity—with the foundation of his fortunes. Here, however, we have only to do with the fact that Whittington was of gentle birth, and that he was apprenticed to a man also of gentle birth.


Here, again, is another proof of my assertion that the London merchant was generally a gentleman. That good old antiquary, Stow, to whom we owe so much, not only gives an account of all the monuments in the city churches, with the inscriptions and verses which were graven upon them, but he also describes{203} the shields of all those who were armigeri—entitled to carry arms. Remember that a shield was not a thing which could in those days be assumed at pleasure. The Heralds made visitations of the counties, and examined into the pretensions of every man who bore a coat of arms. You were either entitled to a coat of arms or you were not. To parade a shield without a proper title was much as if a man should in these days pretend to be an Earl or a Baronet. If one wants a shield it is only necessary now to invent one; or the Heralds' College will with great readiness connect a man with some knightly family and so confer a title: formerly the Herald could only invent or find a coat of arms by order of the Sovereign, the Fountain of Honor. By granting a shield, let us remember, the king admitted another family into the first rank of gentlehood. For instance, when the news of Captain Cook's death reached England, King George III. granted a coat of arms to his family, who were thereby promoted to the first stage of nobility. This, however, seems to have been the last occasion of such a grant.

What do we find, then? This very remarkable fact. The churches are full of monuments to dead citizens who are armigeri. Take two churches at hazard. The first is St. Leonard's, Milk Street. Here were buried, among others, John Johnson, citizen and butcher, died 1282, his coat of arms displayed upon his tomb; also, with his family shield, Richard Ruyener, citizen and fish-monger, died 1361. The second church is St. Peter's, Cornhill. Here the following monuments have their shields: that of Thomas Lorimer, citizen and mercer; of Thomas Born, citizen and{204} draper; of Henry Acle, citizen and grocer; of Henry Palmer, citizen and pannarius; of Henry Aubertner, citizen and tailor; and of Timothy Westrow, citizen and grocer. In short, I do not say that the retail traders were of knightly family, but that the great merchants, the mercers, adventurers, and leaders of the Companies were gentlemen by descent, and admitted to their close society only their own friends, cousins, and sons.

The residence and yearly influx of the Barons and their followers into London not only, as we have seen, kept the city in touch with the country, and prevented it from becoming a mere centre of trade, but it also kept the country in touch with the City. The livery of the great Lords compared their own lot, at best an honorable servitude, with that of the free and independent merchants who had no over-lord but the King, and were themselves as rich as any of the greatest Barons in the country. They saw among them many from their own country, lads whom they remembered in the hunting-field, or playing in the garden before the timbered old house in the country, of gentle birth and breeding; once, like themselves, poor younger sons, now rich and of great respect. When they went home they talked of this, and fired the blood of the boys, so that while some stayed at home and some put on the livery of a Baron, others went up to London and served their time. So that, when we assign a city origin to the families of Coventry, Leigh, Ducie, Pole, Bouverie, Boleyn, Legge, Capel, Osborne, Craven, and Ward, it would be well to inquire, if possible, to what stock belonged the original citizen, the founder of each. Trade in the{205} fourteenth century, and long afterwards, did not degrade a gentleman. That idea was of an earlier and of a later date. It became a law during the last century, when the county families began to grow rich and the value of land increased. It is fast disappearing again, and the city is once more receiving the sons of noble and gentle. The change should be welcomed as helping to destroy the German notions of caste and class and the hereditary superiority of the ennobled House.

As for the political power of London under the Plantagenets, it will be sufficient to refer to Froissart. "The English," says the chronicler, unkindly, "are the worst people in the world, the most obstinate, and the most presumptuous, and of all England the Londoners are the leaders; for, to say the truth, they are very powerful in men and in wealth. In the city and neighborhood there are 25,000 men, completely armed from head to foot, and full 30,000 archers. This is a great force, and they are bold and courageous, and the more blood is spilled the greater is their courage." The deposition of King Edward II. and that of King Richard II. illustrate at once the "presumption and obstinacy" and the power of the citizens. Later on, the depositions of Charles I. and of James II. were also largely assisted by these presumptuous citizens.

The first case, that of Edward II., is thus summed up by Froissart:

When the Londoners perceived King Edward so besotted with the Despencers, they provided a remedy, by sending secretly to Queen Isabella information, that if she would collect a body of 300 armed men, and land with them in England, she would find the citizens of London and the majority of the nobles{206} and commonalty ready to join her and place her on the throne. The Queen found a friend in Sir John of Hainault, Lord of Beaumont and Chimay, and brother to Count William of Hainault, who undertook, through affection and pity, to carry her and her son back to England. He exerted himself so much in her service with knights and squires, that he collected a body of 400 and landed them in England, to the great comfort of the Londoners. The citizens joined them, for, without their assistance, they would never have accomplished the enterprise. King Edward was made prisoner at Bristol, and carried to Berkeley Castle, where he died. His advisers were all put to death with much cruelty, and the same day King Edward III. was crowned King of England in the Palace of Westminster.

When, in the case of Richard II., the time of expostulation had passed, and that for armed resistance or passive submission had arrived, the Londoners remembered their action in the reign of Edward II., and perceived that if they did not move they would be all ruined and destroyed. They therefore resolved upon bringing over from France, Henry, Earl of Derby, and entreated the Archbishop of Canterbury to go over secretly and invite him, promising the whole strength of London for his service. As we know, Henry accepted and came over. On his landing he sent a special messenger to ride post haste to London with the news. The journey was performed in less than twenty-four hours. The Lord Mayor sent the news about in all directions, and the Londoners prepared to give their future king a right joyous welcome. They poured out along the roads to meet him, and all men, women, and children clad in their best clothes. "The Mayor of London rode by the side of the Earl, and said, 'See, my Lord, how much the people are{207} rejoiced at your arrival.' As the Earl advanced, he bowed his head to the right and left, and noticed all comers with kindness.... The whole town was so rejoiced at the Earl's return that every shop was shut and no more work done than if it had been Easter Day."

The army which Henry led to the west was an army of Londoners, twelve thousand strong. It was to the Tower of London that the fallen King was brought; and it was in the Guildhall that the articles drawn up against the King were publicly read; and it was in Cheapside that the four knights, Richard's principal advisers, were beheaded. At the Coronation feast the King sat at the first table, having with him the two archbishops and seventeen bishops. At the second table sat the five great peers of England. At the third were the principal citizens of London; below them sat the knights. The place assigned to the city is significant. But London had not yet done enough for Henry of Lancaster. The Earls of Huntingdon and Salisbury attempted a rebellion against him. Said the Mayor, "Sire, we have made you king, and king you shall be." And King he remained.

It was in this fourteenth century that the city experienced the most important change in the whole history of her constitution, more important than the substitution of the Mayor and Aldermen for the port-reeve and sheriff, though that was nothing less than the passage from the feudal county to the civic community. The new thing was the formation of the city companies, which incorporated each trade formally, and gave the fullest powers to the governing body over wages, hours of labor, output, and everything which concerned the welfare of each craft.{208}

There had been many attempts made at combination. Men at all times have been sensible of the advantages of combining; at all times and in every trade there is the same difficulty, that of persuading everybody to forego an apparent present advantage for a certain benefit in the future; there are always black-legs, yet the cause of combination advances.

The history of the city companies is that of combination so successfully carried out that it became part of the constitution and government of the city; but, which was not foreseen at the outset, combination in the interests of the masters, not of the men.

The trades had long formed associations which they called guilds. These, for some appearance of independence, began to arouse suspicion. Kings have never regarded any combination of their subjects with approbation. The guilds were ostensibly religious; they had each a patron saint—St. Martin, for instance, protected the saddlers; St. Anthony, the grocers—and they held an annual festival on their saint's day. But they must be licensed; eighteen such guilds were fined for establishing themselves without a license. Those which were licensed paid for the privilege. The most important of them was the Guild of Weavers, which was authorized by Henry II. to regulate the trades of cloth-workers, drapers, tailors, and all the various crafts and "mysteries" that belong to clothes. This guild became so powerful that it threatened to rival in authority the governing body. It was therefore suppressed by King John, the different trades afterwards combining separately to form their own companies.

We are not writing a history of London, otherwise{209} the rise and growth of the City companies would form a most interesting chapter. It has been done in a brief and convenient form by Loftie, in his little book on London (Historic Towns Series). Very curious and suggestive reading it is. At the period with which we are now concerned, the end of the fourteenth century, the companies were rapidly forming and presenting regulations for the approval and license of the Mayor and Aldermen. By the year 1363 there were thirty-two companies already formed whose laws and regulations had received the approbation of the King. Let us take those of the Company of Glovers. They are briefly as follows:

(1) None but a freeman of the City shall make or sell gloves.

(2) No glover shall be admitted to the freedom of the City unless with the assent of the Wardens of the trade.

(3) No one shall entice away the servant of another.

(4) If a servant in the trade shall make away with his master's chattels to the value of twelvepence, the Wardens shall make good the loss; and if the servant refuse to be adjudged upon by the Wardens, he shall be taken before the Mayor and Aldermen.

(5) No one shall sell his goods by candlelight.

(6) Any false work found shall be taken before the Mayor and Aldermen by the Wardens.

(7) All things touching the trade within the City between those who are not freemen shall be forfeited.

(8) Journeymen shall be paid their present rate of wages.

(9) Persons who entice away journeymen glovers to{210} make gloves in their own houses shall be brought before the Mayor and Aldermen.

(10) Any one of the trade who refuses to obey these regulations shall be brought before the Mayor and Aldermen.

Observe, upon these laws, first, that the fourth simply transfers the master's right to chastise his servant to the governing body of the company. This seems to put the craftsmen in a better position. Here, apparently, is combination carried to the fullest. All the glovers in the City unite; no one shall make or sell gloves except their own members; the company shall order the rate of wages and the admission of apprentices; no glover shall work for private persons, or for any one, except by order of the company. Here is absolute protection of trade and absolute command of trade. Unfortunately, the Wardens and court were not the craftsmen, but the masters. Therefore the regulations of trade were very quickly found to serve the enrichment of the masters and the repression of the craftsmen. And if the latter formed "covins" or conspiracies for the improvement of wages, they very soon found out that such associations were put down with the firmest hand. To be brought before the Mayor and Aldermen meant, unless submission was made and accepted, expulsion from the City. So long as the conditions of the time allowed, the companies created a Paradise for the master. The workman was suppressed; he could not combine; he could not live except on the terms imposed by his company: if he rebelled he was thrust out of the City gates. The jurisdiction of the City, however, ceased at the walls; when a greater London began to grow{211} outside Cripplegate, Bishopsgate, and Aldgate, and on the reclaimed marshes of Westminster and along the river-bank, craftsmen not of any company could settle down and work as they please. But they had to find a market, which might be impossible except within the City, where they were not admitted. Therefore the companies, as active guardians and jealous promoters of their trades, fulfilled their original purposes a long while, and enabled many generations of masters to grow rich upon the work of their servants.

Every company was governed by its Wardens. The Warden had great powers; he proved the quality, weight, or length of the goods exposed for sale; the members were bound to obey the Warden; to prevent bad blood, every man called upon to serve his time as Warden had to undertake the office. The Warden also looked after the poor of the craft, assisted the old and infirm, the widows and the orphans. He had also to watch over the fraternity, to take care that there should be no underselling, no infringement of the rate of wage, no overreaching of one by the other. He was, in short, to maintain the common interest of the trade. It was a despotism, but, on the whole, a benevolent despotism. The Englishman was not yet ready for popular rule; doubtless the jealousies of the sovereign were allayed by the discovery that the association of a trade was a potent engine for the maintenance of order and the repression of the turbulent craftsman. How turbulent they could be was proved by the troubles which arose in the reign of Henry III.

The great companies were always separate and distinct from the smaller companies. For a long time{212} the Mayor was exclusively elected from the former. Even at the present day, unless the Mayor belongs to one of the great companies, he labors under certain disadvantages. He cannot, for instance, become President of the Irish Society.

By the end of the fourteenth century, then—to sum up—the government of London was practically complete and almost in its present form. The Mayor, become an officer of the highest importance, was elected every year; the Sheriffs every year; the Aldermen and the Common Councilmen were elected by wards. The Mayor was chosen from the great companies, which comprised all the merchant venturers, importers, exporters, men who had correspondence over the seas, masters, and employers. Every craft had its own regulations; no one could trade in the City who did not belong to a company; no one could work in the City, or even make anything to be sold, who did not belong to a company. Wages were ordered by the companies; working-men had no appeal from the ruling of the Warden. From time to time there were attempts made by the craftsmen to make combinations for themselves. These attempts were sternly and swiftly put down. No trades-unions were suffered to be formed; nay, even within the memory of living man trades-unions were treated as illegal associations. The craftsman, as a political factor, disappears from history with the creation of the companies. In earlier times we hear his voice in the folkmote; we see him tossing his cap and shouting for William Longbeard. But when Whittington sits on the Lord Mayor's chair he is silenced. And he remains silent until, by a renewal of those covins and conspiracies{213} which Whittington put down so sternly, he has become a greater power in the land than ever he was before. Even yet, however, and with all the lessons that he has learned, his power of combination is imperfect, his aims are narrow, and his grasp of his own power is feeble and restricted.

For my own part, I confess that this repression, this silencing of the craftsman in the fourteenth century, seems to me to have been necessary for the growth and prosperity of the City. For the craftsman was then incredibly ignorant; he knew nothing except his own craft; as for his country, the conditions of the time, the outer world, he knew nothing at all; he might talk to the sailors who lay about the quays between voyages, but they could tell him nothing that would help him in his trade; he could not read, he could not inquire, because he knew not what question to ask or what information he wanted; he had no principles; he was naturally ready, for his own present advantages, to sacrifice the whole world; he believed all he was told. Had the London working-man acquired such a share in the government of his city as he now has in the government of his country, the result would have been a battle-field of discordant and ever-varying factions, ruled and led each in turn by a short-lived demagogue.

It was, in short, a most happy circumstance for London that the government of the City fell into the hands of an oligarchy, and still more happy that the oligarchs themselves were under the rule of a jealous and a watchful sovereign.

So far it was well. It would have been better had the governing body recognized the law that they{214} must be always enlarging their borders. Then they would have begun in earnest the education of the people. We, who have only taken this work in hand for twenty years, may not throw stones. The voice of the educated craftsman should have been heard long ago. Then we might have been spared many oppressions, many foolish wars, many cruelties. But from the fourteenth to the nineteenth century the craftsman is silent. Nay, in every generation he grows more silent, less able to say what he wants; more inarticulate, more angry and discontented, and more powerless to make his wants heard until he reaches the lowest depth ever arrived at by Englishmen; and that, I think, was about a hundred years ago.


[12] Especially Cunningham's Growth of English Industry and Commerce.





Through broad Chepeside rode the great lord—haply the King himself—followed by his regiment of knights, gentlemen, and men-at-arms, all wearing his livery. The Abbot, with his following, passed along on his way to Westminster in stately procession. The Alderman, in fur gown and gold chain, with his officers, walked through the market inspecting weights and measures and the goods exposed for sale. Priests and friars crowded the narrow ways. To north and south, in sheds which served for shops, the prentices stood bawling their wares. This was the outward and visible side of the City. There was another side—the City of the London craftsman.


Who was he—the craftsman? Whence did he come? London has always opened her hospitable arms to foreigners. They still come to the City and settle, enjoying its freedom, and in the next generation are pure English. In the days of Edward the Confessor the men of Rouen and of Flanders became citizens with rights equal to the English. Later on, the names of the people show their origin and the{216} places whence they or their forefathers had come. Then William Waleys is William the Welchman; Walter Norris is Walter of Norway; John Francis is John the Frenchman; Henry Upton is Henry of that town; William Sevenoke, Lord Mayor of London, took his name from the village of Sevenoaks, in Kent, where he was born. The first surnames were bestowed not only with reference to the place of birth, but partly to trades, partly to the place of residence, partly to personal defects or peculiarities. But it is obvious from the earliest names on record how readily London received strangers from any quarter of western Europe, Norway, Denmark, Flanders, Lorraine, Picardy, Normandy, Guyenne, Spain, Provence, and Italy. It is noteworthy in studying the names, first, that, as was to be expected, there is not in the fourteenth century a single trace of British or Roman-British name, either Christian or surname, just as there was not in the Saxon occupation a single trace of Roman customs or institutions; next, that the Saxon names have all vanished. There are no longer any Wilfreds, Ælfgars, Eadberhts, Sigeberts, Harolds, or Eadgars among the Christian names. They have given place to the Norman names of John, Henry, William, and the like. The London craftsman was therefore a compound of{217} many races. The dominant strain was Saxon—East Saxon; then came Norman, then Fleming, and then a slight infusion of every nation of Western Europe.

In the narrow lanes leading north and south of the two great streets of Thames and Chepe the craftsmen of London lived in their tenements, each consisting of a room below and a room above. Some of them followed their trade at home, some worked in shops. There were those who sold and those who made. Of the former, the mercers and haberdashers kept their shops in West Chepe; the goldsmiths in Guthrun's Lane and Old Change; the pepperers and grocers in Soper's Lane; the drapers in Lombard Street and Cornhill; the skinners in St. Mary Axe; the fish-mongers in Thames Street; the iron-mongers in Ironmongers' Lane and Old Jewry; the vintners in the Vintry; the butchers in East Chepe, St. Nicolas Shambles, and the Stocks Market; the hosiers in Hosiers' Lane; the shoemakers and curriers in Cordwainer Street; the paternoster-sellers in Paternoster Row; patten-sellers by St. Margaret Pattens; and so forth.

It is easy, with the help of Stow, and with the names of the streets before one, to map out the chief market-places and the shops. It is not so easy to lay down the places where those dwelt who carried on handicrafts. Stow indicates here and there a few facts. The Founders of candlesticks, chafing-dishes, and spice mortars carried on their work in Lothbury; the coal-men and wood-mongers were found about Billingsgate stairs; since the Flemish weavers met in the church-yard of Lawrence Pountney, they lived presumably in that parish. For the same reason the{218} Brabant weavers probably lived in St. Mary Somerset parish. The furriers worked in Walbrook; the curriers opposite London Wall; upholsterers or undertakers on Cornhill; cutlers worked in Pope's Head Alley; basket-makers, wire-drawers, and "other foreigners" in Blond Chapel, or Blanch Appletone Lane. In Mincing Lane dwelt the men of Genoa and other parts who brought wine to the port of London in their galleys. The turners of beads for prayers lived in Paternoster Row; the bowyers in Bowyer Row; other crafts there are which may be assigned to their original streets. Sometimes, but not always, the site of a company's hall marks the quarter chiefly inhabited by that trade. Certainly the vintners belonged to the Vintry, where is now their hall, and the weavers to Chepe, where they still have their hall. When, however, the management of a trade or craft passed into the hands of a company, there was no longer any reason, except where men had to work together, why they should live together. Since there could be no combined action by the men, but, on the contrary, blind obedience to the Warden, they might as well live in whatever part of the City should be the most convenient. From the absence of great houses, whether of nobles or princes, in the north of the City, one is inclined to believe that great numbers of craftsmen lived in that part, namely, between what is now called Gresham Street and London Wall.

The trades carried on within the walls covered very nearly the whole field of manufacture. A mediæval city made everything that it wanted—wine, spices, silks, velvets, precious stones, and a few other things excepted, which were brought to the port from abroad;{219} but the City could get on very well without those things. Within the walls they made everything. It is not until one reads the long lists of trades collected together by Riley that one understands how many things were wanted, and how trades were subdivided. Clothing in its various branches gave work to the wympler, who made wimples or neckerchiefs for women; the retunder, or shearman of cloth; the batour, or worker of cloth; the caplet-monger; the callere, who made cauls or coifs for the head; the quilter; the pinner; the chaloner, who made chalons or coverlets; the bureller, who worked in burel, a coarse cloth; the tailor; the linen armorer; the chaucer, or shoemaker; the plumer, or feather-worker; the pelliper, pellercer, or furrier; the white tawyer, who made white leather; and many others. Arms and armor wanted the bowyer; the kissere, who made armor for the thighs; the bokelsmyth, who make bucklers; the bracere, who made armor for arms; the gorgiarius, who made gorgets; the taborer, who made drums; the heaulmere, who made helmets; the makers of haketons, pikes, swords, spears, and bolts for crossbows. Trades were thus already divided; we see one man making one thing and nothing else all his life. The equyler made porringers, the brochere made spits, the haltier made halters, the corder made ropes, the sacker made sacks, the melmallere made hammers, and so on.

The old City grows gradually clearer to the vision when we think of all these trades carried on within the walls. There were mills to grind the corn; breweries for making the beer—one remains in the City still; the linen was spun within the walls, and the cloth made and dressed; the brass pots, tin pots, iron{220} utensils, and wooden platters and basins were all made in the City; the armor, with its various pieces, was hammered out and fashioned in the streets; all kinds of clothes, from the leathern jerkin of the poorest to the embroidered robes of a princess, were made here; nothing that was wanted for household use in the country but was made in London town. Some of those trades were offensive to their neighbors. Under Edward I., for instance, the melters of tallow and lard were made to leave Chepe, and to find a more convenient place at a distance from that fashionable street. The names of Stinking Lane, Scalding Lane, and Sheer Hog sufficiently indicate the pleasing effect of the things done in them upon the neighbors. The modern City of London—the City proper—is a place where they make nothing, but sell everything. It is now quite a quiet city; the old rumbling of broad-wheeled wagons over a stone-laid roadway has given way to the roll of the narrow wheel over the smooth asphalt; the craftsmen have left the City. But in the days of Whittington there was no noisier city in the whole world; the roar and the racket of it could be heard afar off—even at the rising of the Surrey Hills or the slope of Highgate, or the top of Parliament Hill. Every man in the City was at work except the lazy men-at-arms of my lord's following in the great house that was like a barrack. They lay about waiting for the order to mount and ride off to the border, or the Welsh march, or to fight the French. But roundabout these barracks the busy craftsmen worked all day long. From every lane rang out without ceasing the tuneful note of the hammer and the anvil; the carpenters, not without noise, drove in their nails,{221} and the coopers hooped their casks; the blacksmith's fire roared; the harsh grating of the founders set the teeth on edge of those who passed that way; along the river-bank, from the Tower to Paul's stairs, those who loaded and those who unloaded, those who carried the bales to the warehouses, those who hoisted them up, the ships which came to port and the ships which sailed away, did all with fierce talking, shouting, quarrelling, and racket. Such work must needs be carried on with noise. The pack-horses plodded along the streets, coming into the City and going out. Wagons with broad wheels rumbled and groaned along; the prentices bawled from the shops; the fighting-men marched along to sound of trumpet; the church bells and the monastery bells rang out all day long, and all night too. And at the doors of the houses or the open windows, where there was no glass, but a hanging shutter, sat or stood the women, preparing the food, washing, mending, sewing, or spinning, their children playing in the street before them. There are many towns of France, especially Southern France, which recall the mediæval city. Here the women live and do their work in the door-ways; the men work at the open windows; and all day there is wafted along the streets and up to the skies the fragrance of soup and onions, roasted meats and baked confections, with the smell of every trade which the people carry on.

Everything was made within the walls of the City. When one thinks upon the melting of tallow, the boiling of soap, the crushing of bones, the extracting of glue, the treatment of feathers and cloth and leather, the making and grinding of knives and all other sharp weapons, the crowding of the slaughter-houses, the{222} decaying of fruit and vegetables, the roasting of meat at cooks' shops, the baking of bread, the brewing of beer, the making of vinegar, and all the thousand and one things which go to make up the life of a town, the most offensive of which are now carried on without the town; when one considers, further, the gutter, which played so great a part in every mediæval city; the gutter stream, which was almost Sabbatical, because it ceased to run when people ceased to work; the brook of the middle of the street, flowing with suds, the water used for domestic and for trade purposes, and with everything that would float or flow; when, again, one thinks of the rags and bones, the broken bits and remnants and fragments, the cabbage-stalks and pea-pods and onion-peelings which were thrown into the street, though against the law, and of the lay stalls, where filth and refuse of every kind were thrown to wait the coming of carts, even more uncertain than those of a modern vestry—when, I say, one thinks of all these things, and of the small boundaries of the City, and its crowded people, and of its narrow streets, one understands how there hung over the City day and night, never quite blown away even by the most terrible storm that ever wept o'er pale Britannia, a richly confected cloud of thick and heavy smell which the people had to breathe.

They liked it; without it, the true Londoner languished. The mediæval smell, the smell of great towns, has left London, but in old towns of the Continent, as in the old streets of Brussels, it meets and greets us to the present day. Breathing this air with difficulty, and perhaps with nausea, you may say,{223} "Such and such was the air in which the citizens of London delighted when Edward III. was King."

The craftsman in those days had to do good work, or he would hear of it. He had to obey his company, or he would hear of it; and he had to take, with outward show of contentment, the wages that were assigned to him, or he would hear of it. He might be imprisoned, or put in pillory. We shall see a few cases of his punishment presently. As a final punishment he might be thrust outside the gates of the City, and told to go away and to return no more.

Then, one fears, there would be nothing left for the craftsman but to turn ribaud, if he was clever enough to learn the arts of ribauderie; or to sink into the lowest depth and become a villein, bound to the soil.

If it was a city of hard work, it was also a city of play in plenty. London citizens, old and young, have always delighted beyond measure in games, shows, sports, and amusements of every kind. There were many holidays, and Sunday was not a day of gloom.

The calendar of sport begins with the first day of the year, and ends with the last day.

The year began with New-year's gifts:

These giftes the husband gives his wife and father eke the child,
And master on his men bestows the like with favour milde,
And good beginning of the year they wish and wish again,
According to the ancient guise of heathen people vaine.
These eight days no man doth require his debtes of any man;
Their tables do they furnish forth with all the meat they can.

There were skating and sliding upon the ice in Moorfields, where the shallow ponds froze easily; or{224} they played at quarter-staff, at hocking, at single-stick, at foot-ball, and at bucklers. In the evening they played at cards and "tables" and dice.

Now men and maids do merry make
At stool-ball and at barley-break

On Shrove Tuesday they had cock-fighting, a sport continued with unabated popularity until within the memory of man—nay, it is rumored that he who knows where to look for it may still enjoy that humanizing spectacle. Every Friday in Lent the young men went forth to Smithfield and held mock fights, but the custom was in time discontinued; at Easter they had boat tournaments. At this holy season also they had boar fights, and the baiting of bulls and bears. They had stage plays—the parish clerk in Chaucer "played Herod on a scaffold high." In the year 1391 the parish clerks had a play at Skinners Well, Smithfield, which lasted for three days. In 1409 they represented the creation of the world, and it lasted eight days.

Then there were the pageants, shows, and ridings in the city. Here are two, out of several described by Stow.

Of triumphant shows made by the citizens of London, ye may read, in the year 1236, the 20th of Henry III., Andrew Bockwell then being mayor, how Eleanor, daughter to Reymond, Earl of Provence, riding through the city towards Westminster, there to be crowned Queen of England, the city was adorned with silks, and in the night with lamps, cressets, and other lights without number, besides many pageants and strange devices there presented; the citizens also rode to meet the king and queen, clothed in long garments embroidered about with gold, and silks of divers colours, their horses gallantly{225} trapped to the number of three hundred and sixty, every man bearing a cup of gold or silver in his hand, and the king's trumpeters sounding before them. These citizens did minister wine as bottlers, which is their service, at their coronation. More, in the year 1293, for victory obtained by Edward I. against the Scots, every citizen, according to their several trade, made their several show, but especially the fish-mongers, which in a solemn procession passed through the city, having, amongst other pageants and shows, four sturgeons gilt, carried on four horses; then four salmons of silver on four horses; and after them six-and-forty armed knights riding on horses, made like luces of the sea; and then one representing St. Magnus, because it was upon St. Magnus' day, with a thousand horsemen, &c.

One other show, in the year 1377, was made by the citizens for disport of the young prince, Richard, son to the Black Prince, in the feast of Christmas, in this manner: On the Sunday before Candlemas, in the night, one hundred and thirty citizens, disguised, and well horsed, in a mummery, with sound of trumpets, sackbuts, cornets, shalmes, and other minstrels, and innumerable torch-lights of wax, rode from Newgate, through Cheap, over the bridge, through Southwark, and so to Kennington beside Lambhith, where the young prince remained with his mother and the Duke of Lancaster his uncle, the earls of Cambridge, Hertford, Warwick, and Suffolk, with divers other lords. In the first rank did ride forty-eight in the likeness and habit of esquires, two and two together, clothed in red coats and gowns of say or sandal, with comely visors on their faces; after them came riding forty-eight knights in the same livery of colour and stuff; then followed one richly arrayed like an emperor; and after him some distance, one stately attired like a pope, whom followed twenty-four cardinals, and after them eight or ten with black visors, not amiable, as if they had been legates from some foreign princes. These maskers, after they had entered Kennington, alighted from their horses, and entered the hall on foot; which done, the prince, his mother, and the lords, came out of the chamber into the hall, whom the said mummers did salute, showing by{226} a pair of dice upon the table their desire to play with the prince, which they so handled that the prince did always win when he cast them. Then the mummers set to the prince three jewels, one after another, which were a bowl of gold, a cup of gold, and a ring of gold, which the prince won at three casts. Then they set to the prince's mother, the duke, the earls, and other lords, to every one a ring of gold, which they did also win. After which they were feasted, and the music sounded, the prince and the lords danced on the one part with the mummers, which did also dance; which jollity being ended, they were again made to drink, and then departed in order as they came.

Whenever an excuse could be found, the Mayor, Sheriffs, and Aldermen held a solemn riding in all their bravery. Not even in Ghent or Antwerp were there such splendid ridings and so many of them. "Search all chronicles," says an old writer, "all histories and records, in what language or letter soever, let the inquisitive man waste the deere treasures of his time and eyesight, he shall conclude his life only in the certainty that there is no subject received into the place of his government with the like style and magnificence as is the Lord Mayor of the city of London." We shall see later on what kind of show would be held in the time of Queen Elizabeth.

As for pageants, they were so splendid that he was unhappy, indeed, who could not remember one. But there were few so unfortunate. Whenever the King paid a visit to the City, on his accession, on his marriage, on the birth of a prince, the City held a pageant. When you read the account of the pageant when Henry V. and the City returned thanks for the victory of Agincourt, remember to cover in imagination the houses with scarlet cloth, to dress the people with{227} such bravery of attire and such colors as you can imagine, to let music play at every corner, to let the horses be apparelled as bravely as their riders, to let the bells be pealing and clashing, to fill up the narrative with the things which the historian neglects, and then own that in the matter of pageants we are poor indeed compared with our forefathers five hundred years ago.

On the king's return after the glorious field of Agincourt, the Mayor of London and the Aldermen, apparelled in orient grained scarlet, and four hundred commoners clad in beautiful murrey, well mounted and trimly horsed, with rich collars and great chains, met the King at Blackheath; and the clergy of London in solemn procession with rich crosses, sumptuous copes, and massy censers, received him at St. Thomas of Waterings. The King, like a grave and sober personage, and as one who remembered from Whom all victories are sent, seemed little to regard the vain pomp and shows, insomuch that he would not suffer his helmet to be carried with him, whereby the blows and dints upon it might have been seen by the people, nor would he suffer any ditties to be made and sung by minstrels of his glorious victory, because he would the praise and thanks should be altogether given to God.

At the entrance of London Bridge, on the top of the tower, stood a gigantic figure, bearing in his right hand an axe, and in his left the keys of the city hanging to a staff, as if he had been the porter. By his side stood a female of scarcely less stature, intended for his wife. Around them were a band of trumpets and other wind instruments. The towers were adorned with banners of the royal arms, and in the front of them was inscribed CIVITAS REGIS JUSTICIE (the City of the King of Righteousness).

At the drawbridge on each side was erected a lofty column, like a little tower, built of wood, and covered with linen; one painted like white marble, and the other like green jasper. They were surmounted by figures of the King's beasts,—an antelope,{228} having a shield of the royal arms suspended from his neck, and a sceptre in his right foot; and a lion, bearing in his right claw the royal standard unfurled.

At the foot of the bridge next the city was raised a tower, formed and painted like the columns before mentioned; and, in the middle of which, under a splendid pavilion, stood a most beautiful image of St. George, armed, excepting his head, which was adorned with a laurel crown, studded with jems and precious stones. Behind him was a crimson tapestry, with his arms (a red cross) glittering on a multitude of shields. On his right hung his triumphal helmet, and on his left a shield of his arms of suitable size. In his right hand he held the hilt of the sword with which he was girt, and in his left a scroll, which, extending along the turrets, contained these words, SOLI DEO HONOR ET GLORIA. In a contiguous house were innumerable boys representing the angelic host, arrayed in white, with glittering wings, and their hair set with sprigs of laurel; who, on the King's approach, sang, accompanied by organs, an anthem, supposed to be that beginning "Our King went forth to Normandy;" and whose burthen is, "Deo gratias, Anglia, redde pro victoria,"—printed in Percy's Reliques.

The tower of the Conduit on Cornhill was decked with a tent of crimson cloth, and ornamented with the King's arms, and those of Saints George, Edward, and Edmund. Under the pavilion was a company of hoary prophets, in golden coats and mantles, and their heads covered with gold and crimson; who, when the King passed, sent forth a great quantity of sparrows and other small birds, as a sacrifice agreeable to God, some of which alighted on the King's breast, some rested on his shoulders, and some fluttered round about him. And the prophets then sang the psalm, Cantate Domino canticum novum, &c.

The tower of the Conduit at the entrance of Cheap was hung with green, and ornamented with scutcheons. Here sat twelve venerable old men, having the names of the twelve Apostles written on their foreheads, together with the twelve Kings, Martyrs, and Confessors, of the succession of England, who also gave their chaunt at the King's approach, and sent forth upon him round leaves of silver mixed with wafers, and wine{229} out of the pipes of the conduit, imitating Melchisedeck's reception of Abraham, when he returned from his victory over the Four Kings.

The Cross of Cheap was not visible, being concealed by a beautiful castle, constructed of timber, and covered with linen painted to resemble squared blocks of white marble and green and crimson jasper. The arms of St. George adorned the summit, those of the King and the Emperor were raised on halberds, and the lower turrets had the arms of the royal family and the great peers of the realm. On a stage in front came forth a chorus of virgins with timbrel and dance, as to another David coming from the slaughter of Goliath; their song of congratulation was, "Welcome, Henry the Fifte, King of Englond and of Fraunce." Throughout the building there was also a multitude of boys, representing the heavenly host, who showered down on the King's head small coins resembling gold, and boughs of laurel, and sang, accompanied by organs, the Te Deum laudamus.

The tower of the Conduit at the west end of Cheap was surrounded with pavilions, in each of which was a virgin, who from cups in their hands blew forth golden leaves on the King. The tower was covered with a canopy made to resemble the sky and clouds, the four posts of which were supported by angels, and the summit crowned with an archangel of brilliant gold. Beneath the canopy, on a throne, was a majestic image representing the sun, which glittered above all things, and round it were angels singing and playing all kinds of musical instruments.

This was the last of the pageantry, and, after the King had paid his devotions at St. Paul's, he departed to his palace at Westminster.

Of ecclesiastical functions and processions I say little. The people belonging to the Church, as well as the churches themselves, were in every street and in every function. At funerals there followed the Brotherhood of Sixty, the singing clerks, and the old{230} priests of the Papey chanting the psalms for the dead. And see, here is a company of a hundred and twenty. They are not Londoners, they are Dutchmen; and they have come across the sea—such are the amenities of mediæval piety—to flagellate themselves for the sins of this city. Will the English follow their example and go to flog themselves at Amsterdam? For there are sins to be expiated even in Holland. They are stripped to the waist; every man is armed with a whip, and is belaboring the man in front. It is a moving spectacle. London cannot choose but repent. The tears should be running down the cheeks of toper, tosspot, and "rorere." Alas! we hear of no tears. The Dutchmen have to go home again, and may, if they please, flagellate themselves for their own good, for London is impenitent.

Then there is the great day of the company—its saint's day—the day of visible greatness for the trade. On this day is the whole livery assembled; there must be none absent, great or small: all are met in the hall, every man in a new gown of the trade color. First to church; the boys and singing clerks lead the way, chanting as they go. Then march the Lord Mayor's sergeants, the servants of the company, and the company itself, with its wardens and the officers. Mass despatched, they return home in the same order to the hall, where they find a banquet spread for them, such a banquet as illustrates the wealth and dignity of the trade; the music is in the gallery, the floor is spread with rushes newly laid, clean, and warm; the air is fragrant with the burning of that scented Indian wood called sanders; at the high table sit the master or warden, the guests—even the King will sometimes{231} dine with a city company—and the court. Below, at the tables, arranged in long lines, are the freemen of the company, and not the men alone, but with every man sits his wife, or, if he be a bachelor, he is permitted to bring a maiden with him if he chooses. Think not that a city company of the olden time would call together the men to feast alone while the women stayed at home. Not at all. The wardens knew very well that there is no such certain guard, and preservative of honesty and order, which are the first requisites for the prosperity of trade, as the worship of man for maiden and of maid for man.

When dinner is over, they will elect the officers for the year, and doubtless hear a word of admonition on the excellence of the work and the jealousy with which the standard of good work should be guarded. Then the loving-cup goes round, and the mummers come in to perform plays and interludes, dressed up in such fantastic guise as makes the women scream and the men laugh and applaud.

On the day before Ascension Day there was beating of the bounds, a custom still observed, but with grievous shrinkage of the ceremonies.

Perhaps the greatest festival of the year was May Day, which fell in the middle of our month of May. It must be a hard year indeed when the east winds are not over and done with by the middle of May. Spring was upon them. Only think what was meant by spring to a people whose winters were spent, as must have been the case with most of them, in small houses, dark and cold, huddled round the fire without candles, going to bed early, rising before daylight, eating no fresh meat, fruit, or vegetables, waiting impatiently{232} for the time to return when they would live again in the open, shutters down and doors thrown wide.

All the young people on the eve of May Day went out into the fields to gather boughs and white-thorn flowers. In Chaucer's "Court of Love," "Forth goeth all the court, both most and least, to fetch the flowers fresh." Later on, Herrick writes:

Come, my Corinna, come, and coming, mark
How each field turns a street, each street a park
Made green and trimmed with trees; see how
Devotion gives each house a bough
Or branch; each porch, each door, on this
An ark, a tabernacle is
Made up of white thorn neatly interwoven.

It was the prettiest festival in the world. In every parish they raised a May-pole hung with garlands and ribbons; they elected a Queen of the May, and they danced and sang about their pole. The London parishes vied with each other in the height and splendor of the pole. One was kept in Gerrard's Hall, Basing Lane (now swept away by the new streets). This was forty feet high. A much later one, erected in the Strand, 1661, in defiance to the Puritans, was 130 feet high. And there was the famous May-pole of St. Andrews Under-shaft, destroyed by the Puritans as an emblem of idolatry and profligacy. The girls came back from their quest of flowers singing, but not quite in these words:

We have been rambling all the night,
And almost all the day,
And now returning back again
We have brought you a branch of May.
A branch of May we have brought you,
And at your door it stands;
It is but a sprout, but it's well budded out,
By the work of our Lord's hands.

And there was morris-dancing, with Robin Hood, Friar Tuck, Little John, Tom the Piper, and Tom the Fool, with hobby-horses, pipe and tabor, mummers and devils, and I know not what; and Chepe and Cornhill and Gracechurch Street were transformed into leafy lanes and woodland ways and alleys cut through hawthorn and wild rose. You may see to-day the hawthorn and the wild rose growing in Epping Forest, just as they grew four hundred years ago. But the forest has been miserably curtailed of its proportions. A great slice, wedge-shaped, has been cut out bodily, and is now built upon. Hainault Forest has perished these forty years, and is converted into farms, save for a fragment, and of Middlesex Forest nothing remains except the little piece enclosed in Lord Mansfield's park. But in those days the forest came down to the hamlet of Iseldun, afterwards Merry Islington.

And in the month of June there were the burning of bonfires to clear and cleanse the air, and the marching of the watch on the vigils of St. John Baptist and St. Peter.

Hear the testimony of Stow:

In the months of June and July, on the vigils of festival days and on the same festival days in the evenings after the sun setting, there were usually made bonfires in the streets, every man bestowing wood or labour towards them; the wealthier sort also, before their doors near to the said bonfires, would set out tables on the vigils, furnished with sweet bread and{234} good drink, and on the festival days with meats and drinks plentifully, whereunto they would invite their neighbours and passengers also to sit and be merry with them in great familiarity, praising God for His benefits bestowed on them. These were called bonfires as well of good amity amongst neighbours, that being before at controversy, were there, by the labour of others, reconciled, and made of bitter enemies loving friends; and also for the virtue that a great fire hath to purge the infection of the air. On the vigil of St. John the Baptist, and on St. Peter and Paul the Apostles, every man's door being shadowed with green birch, long fennel, St. John's wort, orpin, white lillies, and such like, garnished upon with garlands of beautiful flowers, had also lamps of glass, with oil burning in them all the night; some hung out branches of iron curiously wrought, containing hundreds of lamps alight at once, which made a goodly show, namely, in New Fish Street, Thames Street, &c. Then had ye besides the standing watches all in bright harness, in every ward and street of this city and suburbs, a marching watch, that passed through the principal streets thereof, to wit, from the little conduit by Paul's Gate to West Cheap, by the stocks through Cornhill, by Leadenhall to Aldgate, then back down Fenchurch Street, by Grass Church, about Grass Church conduit, and up Grass Church Street into Cornhill, and through it into West Cheap again. The whole way for this marching watch extendeth to three thousand two hundred tailor's yards of assize; for the furniture whereof with lights, there were appointed seven hundred cressets, five hundred of them being found by the companies, the other two hundred by the Chamber of London. Besides the which lights every constable in London, in number more than two hundred and forty, had his cresset: the charge of every cresset was in light two shillings and fourpence, and every cresset had two men, one to bear or hold it, another to bear a bag with light, and to serve it, so that the poor men pertaining to the cressets, taking wages, besides that every one had a straw hat, with a badge painted, and his breakfast in the morning, amounted in number to almost two thousand. The marching watch contained in number about two thousand{235} men, part of them being old soldiers of skill, to be captains, lieutenants, sergeants, corporals, &c., whifflers, drummers, and fifes, standard and ensign-bearers, sword-players, trumpeters on horseback, demilances on great horses, gunners with hand guns, or half hakes, archers in coats of white fustian, signed on the breast and back with the arms of the city, their bows bent in their hands, with sheaves of arrows by their sides, pikemen in bright corslets, burganets, &c., halberds, the like billmen in almaine rivets, and aprons of mail in great number; there were also divers pageants, morris dancers, constables, the one-half, which was one hundred and twenty, on St. John's Eve, the other half on St. Peter's Eve, in bright harness, some overgilt, and every one a jornet of scarlet thereupon, and a chain of gold, his henchman following him, his minstrels before him, and his cresset light passing by him, the waits of the city, the mayor's officers for his guard before him, all in a livery of worsted or say jackets party-coloured, the mayor himself well-mounted on horseback, the sword-bearer before him in fair armour well mounted also, the mayor's footmen, and the like torch-bearers about him, henchmen twain upon great stirring horses, following him. The sheriff's watches came one after the other in like order, but not so large in number as the mayor's; for where the mayor had besides his giant three pageants, each of the sheriffs had besides their giants but two pageants, each their morris dance, and one henchman, their officers in jackets of worstead or say party-coloured, differing from the mayor's, and each from other, but having harnessed men a great many, &c.

On the Feast of St. Bartholomew there were wrestlings, foot-races, and shooting with the bow for prizes. On Holyrood Day (September 14th) the young men and the maidens went nutting in the woods. At Martinmas (November 1st) there was feasting to welcome the beginning of winter. Lastly, the old year ended and the new year began with the mixture and succession of religious services, pageants, shows, feasting,{236} drinking, and dancing, which the London citizen of every degree loved so much.

Then there were the City holidays. St. Lubbock had predecessors. There were Christmas Day, Twelfth Day, Easter, the day of St. John the Baptist, on June 24th, and of St. Peter and St. Paul, on June 29th. On the last two days, to discourage the people from keeping it up all night, the vintners had to close their doors at ten.

The City of London has always been famous for the great plenty and variety of its food. Beef, mutton, and pork formed then, as now, the staple of the diet; small beer was the drink of all, men, women, and children. When, for instance, the Franciscans first set up their humble cells, the small beer being short in quantity, they did not drink water, but mixed water with the beer, in order to make it go round. There were so many fast-days in the year that fish was as important a form of food as mutton or beef. They ate lampreys, porpoise, and sturgeon, among other fish. Ling, cod, and herring furnished them with salted fish. Peacocks and swans adorned their tables at great banquets. Their dishes were sweetened with honey, for sugar was scarce, but spices were abundant. By the thirteenth century they had begun to make plentiful use of vegetables. They were fond of pounding meats of different kinds, such as pork and poultry, and mixing them in a kind of rissole. At a certain great banquet, the menu of which has survived, there appears neither beef nor mutton, probably because those meats belonged to the daily life, but there are great birds and little birds, brawn, rabbits, swans, and venison for meats, soup of cabbage, then the rissoles{237} just mentioned, and various sweetmeats. Their drink was strong ale for banquets, hot spiced ale with a toast, the loving-cup of hypocras, and for wines, Rhenish, sack, Lisbon, and wine of Bordeaux.

Since every man in the City who practised a trade must be a freeman and a member of a company or trade guild, and since every company looked after its livery, there should have been no poor in the City at all. But performance falls short of promise; laws cannot always be enforced; there was, it is quite certain, a mass of poverty and worthlessness in the City even in those days. Perhaps the City proper, with its wards, was tolerably free from rogues and vagabonds, but there were the suburb of Southwark, that of the Strand, that already springing up outside Cripplegate, and the city of Westminster. Plenty of room here for rogues to find shelter. There were also the trades of which the City took no heed, of minstrels, jugglers, and actors, and all those who lived by amusing others; also the calling of servant in every kind, as drover, carter, wagoner, carrier, porter (not yet associated), and so forth. And there were the men who would never do any work at all, yet wanted as much drink and food as the honest men who did their share. For all these people, when they were hungry, there were the charities of the great men, the bishops, and the monasteries. For instance, the Earl of Warwick allowed any man to take as much meat as he could carry away on a dagger; the Bishop of Ely (but this was later, in the sixteenth century) gave every day bread, drink, and meat to two hundred poor people; the Earl of Derby fed every day, twice, sixty old people; thrice a week all comers; and on Good Friday{238} 2700 men and women. In the year 1293, being a time of dearth, the Archbishop of Canterbury fed daily four or five thousand. In 1171, Henry II., as part of his penance for the murder of à Becket, fed 10,000 people from April till harvest. In the reign of Edward III. the Bishop of Durham bestowed on the poor every week eight quarters of wheat, besides the broken victuals of his house.

The almshouses, of which there are so many still existing, belong for the most part to a later time. The citizens founded hospitals for the necessitous as well as for the sick; they rebuilt and beautified churches; they endowed charities, and gave relief to poor prisoners. The first almshouses recorded were founded in the fourteenth century by William Elsing, mercer, who, in 1332, endowed a house for the support of a hundred blind men, and by John Stodie, citizen and vintner, Mayor in 1358, who built and endowed thirteen almshouses for as many poor citizens. In 1415 William Sevenoke, citizen and grocer, founded a school and almshouses in his native place, and two years later Whittington founded by will his college and almshouses. The college has been swallowed up, but the almshouses remain, though transferred to Highgate. After this the rich citizens began to remember the poor in their wills, choosing rather, like Philip Malpas, Sheriff in 1440, to give clothing to poor men and women, marriage dowries to poor maidens, and money for the highways than to bequeath the money for the singing of masses or the endowment of charities.

One more amusement must be mentioned, because it is the only one of which the honest Londoners have{239} never wearied. It is mentioned by the worthy Fitz Stephen. It still continues to afford joy to millions. The craftsman of the fourteenth century found it at the Mermaid in Cornhill, or the Three Tuns of Newgate, or the Swan of Dowgate, or the Salutation of Billingsgate, or the Boar's Head of London Stone. He found it in company with his fellows, and whether he took it out of a glass or a silver mazer or a black jack, he took it joyfully, and he took it abundantly. Tosspots and swinkers were they then; tosspots and swinkers are they still.

To set against this eagerness for pleasure, this avidity after sports of every kind, we must remember the continual recurrence of plague and pestilence, especially in the fourteenth century,[13] when the love of shows and feasting was at its highest, and when the Black Death carried off half the citizens. Is it not a natural result? When life is so uncertain that men know not to-day how many will be alive to-morrow, they snatch impatiently at the present joy; it is too precious to be lost; another moment, and the chance will be gone—perhaps forever. As is the merriment of the camp when the battle is imminent, so is the joy of the people between the comings of the plague. Life never seems so full of rich and precious gifts as at such a time. As for the lessons in sanitation that the plague should teach, the people had not as yet begun to learn them. The lay stalls and the river-bank, despite laws and proclamations, continued to be heaped with filth, and the narrow street received the refuse from every house. And, in addition to the occasional{240} plague, there was ever present typhoidal fever striking down old and young.

Perhaps the joy of the present was also intensified by the possibility of famine. At the end of the twelfth century there was a terrible famine. There was one in 1251; there was one in 1314, when "no flesh was to be had ... a quarter of wheat, beans, and peas was sold for twenty shillings." This is something like twenty pounds at present prices. This famine continued throughout the next year, when Stow says "horse-flesh was counted great delicates, the poore stole fatte dogges to eate; some (as it was said), compelled through famine, in hidden places, did eate the fleshe of their owne children, and some stole others, which they devoured. Thieves that were in prison did plucke in pieces those that were newlie brought among them, and greedily devoured them half alive." The uncertainty whether next year would produce any bread at all sweetened the loaf of to-day. In the year 1335 long-continued rains caused a famine. In 1353 there was another; in 1438 the scarcity was so great that bread was made from fern-roots, and so on.

The earliest schools of the City were those of St. Paul's, Westminster, and the Abbey of Bermondsey. Each of the religious houses in turn, as it was erected, opened another school. When, however, Henry V. had suppressed the alien priories, of which four certainly, and perhaps more, belonged to London, their schools were also suppressed. So much was the loss felt that Henry VI., the greatest founder of schools of all the kings, erected four new grammar-schools, namely: at St. Martin's le Grand, St. Dunstan in the West, St. Mary le Bow, and St. Anthony's; and in the following{241} year he made four more, namely: in the parishes of St. Andrew's, Holborn; All Hallows the Great, Thames Street; St. Peter's, Cornhill; and St. Thomas of Acon.


But to what extent education prevailed, whether the sons of craftsmen were taught to read and write before they were apprenticed, I know not. For them{242} the trivium and the quadrivium of the mediæval school, the grammar, rhetoric, dialectic, music, arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy could not possibly be of use. On the other hand, one cannot understand that the child of a respectable London craftsman should be allowed to grow up to the age of fourteen with no education at all. As for the children of gentle birth, we know very well how they were taught. Their education was planned so as to include very carefully the mastery of those accomplishments which we call good manners. It also included Latin, French, reading, writing, poetry, and music. In the towns the merchants and the better class understood very well the necessity of education for their own needs. The poor scholar, however—the lad who was born of humble parents and received his education for nothing—was a young man well known and recognized as a common type. But he never intended his learning to adorn a trade; rather should it lead him to the university, to the Church, even to a bishopric. It is significant that throughout Riley's Memorials there is no mention of school or of education; there is no hint anywhere how the children of the working-classes were taught. One thing is certain, the desire for learning was gradually growing and deepening in those years; and when the Reformation set the Bible free, there were plenty—thanks perhaps to King Henry's grammar-schools—in the class of craftsmen who could read it. But as yet we are two hundred years from the freeing of the Book.

It is always found that the laws are strict in an inverse proportion to the strength of the executive. Thus, had the laws been properly carried out, London{243} would have been the cleanest and the most orderly town of the present, past, and future. Every man was enjoined to keep the front of his house clean; no refuse was to be thrown into the gutter; no one was to walk the streets at night. When the curfew-bell rang, first from St. Martin's, and afterwards from all the churches together, the gates of the City were closed; the taverns were shut; no one was allowed to walk about the streets; no boats were to cross the river; the sergeants of Billingsgate and Queenhithe had each his boat, with its crew of four men, to guard the river and the quays; guards were posted at the closed gates; a watch of six men was set in every ward, all the men of the ward being liable to serve upon it. These were excellent rules. Yet we find men haled before the Mayor charged with being common roreres (roarers), with beating people in the streets, enticing them into taverns, where they were made to drink and to gamble. Among the common roreres was once found, alas! a priest. What, however, were the other people doing in the street after curfew? And why were not the taverns shut? As is the strength of the ruling arm, so should be the law. We are not ourselves free from the reproach of passing laws which cannot be enforced because they are against the will of the people, and the executive is too weak to carry them out against that will. People, you see, cannot be civilized by statute.


The wages and hours of work of the craftsman have not been satisfactorily ascertained. The day's work probably meant the whole day. Like the rustic, he would begin in the summer at five and leave off at 7.30, with certain breaks. In winter he would work{244} through the daylight. His wages, which were ordered for the craft by the company, seem to have been ample so long as employment was continuous. But the crafts were always complaining of foreign competition. Edward IV., in 1463, states that owing to the import of wares fully wrought and ready made for sale, "artificers cannot live by their mysteries and occupations as they have done in times past, but divers of them, as well householders as hirelings, and under-servants and apprentices in great numbers, be this day unoccupied, and do hardly live in great misery, poverty, and need." Therefore the statute enumerates a long list of things that are not to be exported. Among these we observe knives, razors, scissors—showing that the cutlery trade was already flourishing then—but not swords, spear-heads, or armor of any kind. Actual artificers were not to be employers but only servants; those already established could sell in gross but not in retail, and they were not to have alien servants. That there was discontent among the working-men is clear from these statutes and from the constant attempts of the craftsmen to form journeyman, or yeoman guilds, whose real objects, though they might mask them under the name of religion, were to increase wages and keep out new-comers.{245}

Apart from the question of wages, what the craftsmen wanted was what the masters, too, demanded—"encouragement of natives, discouragement of foreigners, the development of shipping, and the amassing of treasure."[14]

Such were the people of London in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Such was Plantagenet London, the land of Cocaigne—Cockney Land—whither the penniless young gentleman, the son of the country squire, made his way in search of the fortune which others had picked up on its golden pavement.

Strewed with gold and silver sheen,
In Cockneys' streets no molde is seen;
Pancakes be the shingles alle
Of church and cloister, bower and halle;
Running rivers, grete and fine,
Of hypocras and ale and wine.

But, indeed, a pavement of flints and stones the City offered to any who tried to win her fortunes save by the way prescribed. Of course there were—there always are—many who cannot enter by the appointed gate, nor keep to the ordered way. As it is now, so it was then. There were rogues and cheats; there were men who preferred any way of life to the honest way. How the City in its wisdom dealt with those we shall now see.

At first sight one may be struck with the leniency of justice. In cases which in later years were punished by flogging at the cart-tail, by hanging, by long imprisonment, the criminal of the fourteenth century stood in pillory, or was made to ride through the{246} streets, the nature of his crime symbolized by something hung from his neck. There were as yet no burnings, no slicing off of ears; there was no rack, no torture by rope, boot, or water. It is true that those who ventured upon violence to the sacred person of an Alderman were liable to have the right hand struck off; but at the last moment that officer always begged and obtained a commutation, while the criminal made humble submission. Those who have entered upon an inheritance of law-abiding and of order have forgotten by what severities men were forced into external forms of respect for the officers of justice. Then, again, the Alderman knew every man in his ward; he was no stranger among his people; he knew the circumstances and the condition of every one; he was punishing a brother who had brought the ward into disrepute by his unruly conduct; he was therefore tender, saving the dignity of his office and his duty to the city.


For instance, it was once discovered that wholesale robberies were carried on by certain bakers who made{247} holes in their moulding-boards, and so filched the dough. These rogues in the last century would have been flogged unmercifully. Robert de Bretaigne, Mayor A.D. 1387, was satisfied by putting them in pillory till after vespers at St. Paul's, with dough hung about their necks, so that all the world might know why they were there. When certain "tapicers" were charged with selling false blankets, that is, blankets which had been "vamped" in foreign parts with the hair of oxen and cows, the blankets were ordered to be burned. On the other hand, highway robbery, burglaries, and some cases of theft were punished by hanging. The unhappy Desiderata de Torgnton, for instance, in an evil moment stole from a servant of the Lady Alice de Lisle thirty dishes and twenty-four salt-cellars of silver. The servant was bound by sureties that he would prosecute for felony, and did so, with the result that Desiderata was hanged, and her chattels confiscated; but of chattels had she none.

For selling putrid meat the offender was put in pillory, and the bad meat—dreadful addition to the sentence—burned beneath his nose. The sale of "false" goods—that is, things not made as they should be made, either of bad materials or of inferior materials—was always punished by destruction of the things.


What should be done to a man who spoke disrespectfully of the Mayor? One Roger Torold, citizen and vintner, in the year of grace 1355, and in the twenty-eighth year of our Sovereign Lord King Edward III., said one day, in the presence of witnesses, that he was ready to defy the Mayor; and that if he should catch the Mayor outside the City, then the Mayor should never come back to it alive. These{248} things being reported, the Mayor caused him to be brought before himself, the Aldermen, and Sheriffs at the Guildhall. The prisoner confessed his crime, and put himself upon the favor of the Court. He was committed to prison while the Court considered what should be done to him. Being brought to the bar, he offered to pay a fine of one hundred tuns of wine for restoration to the favor of the Mayor. This was accepted, on the condition that he should also make a recognizance of £40 sterling to be paid if ever again he should abuse or insult the name or person of the Mayor. For perjury, the offender was, for a first crime, taken to the Guildhall, and there placed upon a high stool, bareheaded, before the Mayor and Aldermen. For the second offence he was placed in pillory.{249} For women, the thew was substituted for the pillory. One Alice, wife of Robert de Causton, stood in the thew for thickening the bottom of a quart-pot with pitch, so as to give short measure. The said quart-pot was divided into two parts, of which one half was tied to the pillory in sight of the people, and the other half was kept in the Guildhall.

Death by hanging or pillory. These were almost the only punishments. The cases before the Mayor's Court remind us of the remarkable resemblance we bear to our ancestors. They are monotonous because they read like the cases in a modern Police Court. Giles Pykeman goes in terror of his life, because certain persons threaten him, but they find surety for good behavior. John Edmond Commonger, convicted of passing off bad oats for good—pillory. John William, for passing off rings of latten as rings of gold—pillory. Nicolas Mollere, for spreading false news—pillory, with a whetstone round his neck to mark the offence. Heavens! if this offence were again made penal. John Mayn, indicted for being a leper—banished out of the city. Robert Brebason, stock fish-monger, charged with assault in presence of the Mayor. Not a case for pillory this: let him be imprisoned for a year and a day in Newgate. Alice Sheltoir, charged with being a common scold—to the thew. John Rykorre, cordwainer, for forging a bond—pillory.

As an illustration of the times I give the story of William Blakeney. He was a shuttle-maker by trade, but a pilgrim by profession. He dressed for the part with long hair, long gown, and bare feet. He loitered about in places where men resorted—taverns and such—and{250} there entertained all comers with travellers' tales. He had been everywhere, this pious and adventurous pilgrim. He had seen Seville, city of sacred relics; Rome, the abode of his Holiness the Pope; he had even seen the Pope himself. He had been to the Holy Land, and stood within the very sepulchre of our Lord. And what with the strange creatures he had met with in those far-off lands, and the men and women among whom he had sojourned, and the things he could tell you, and the things which he postponed till the next time, the story would fill volumes. For six years he lived in great comfort, eating and drinking of the best, always at the expense of his hearers. This man must have been an unequalled story-teller. Six years of invention ever fresh and new! Then he was found out—he had never been a pilgrimage in his life. He had never been out of sight of the London walls. So he stood in pillory—this poor novelist, who would in these days have commanded so much respect and such solid rewards—he stood in pillory, with a whetstone round his neck, as if he had been a common liar! And then he had to go back to the dull monotony of shuttle-making, and that in silence, with nobody to believe him any more. Well, he shortly afterwards died, I am convinced, of suppressed fiction. But perhaps his old friends rallied round him, and by the light of the fire he still beguiled the long evenings by telling for the hundredth time of the one-eyed men, and the men with tails, and the men who have but one leg, and use their one foot for an umbrella against the scorching sun—all of whom he had seen in the deserts on the way from Jerusalem to Damascus, where St. Paul was converted.{251}



On a day in the beginning of October, 1382, there was great excitement in the parish of St. Mildred, Poultry. A certain mazer, or silver cup, the property of Dame Matilda de Eye, had been stolen. Now, whether Alan, the water-carrier, had his suspicions, or whether he was himself suspected, or whether he wished to fix the guilt on somebody else, I know not, but he repaired to the house of Robert Berewold, of great repute for art magic, and inquired of him as to the real thief. Whereupon Robert took a loaf, and in the top of it fixed a round peg of wood, and four knives at the four sides, so as to present the figure of a cross. He then did "soothsaying and art magic" over the loaf. After which he declared that Johanne Wolsy was the person who had stolen the cup.

This thing being bruited abroad, and the voice of the indignant Johanne ascending to the ears of the Aldermen, the said Robert was attached to make answer to the Mayor and commonalty as in a plea of deceit and falsehood. Answer there was none. Whereupon Robert stood in pillory for one hour, the loaf, peg, and knives hung about his neck; and on the following Sunday he went to the parish church—it is now pulled down—and in the presence of the congregation confessed that he had falsely defamed the same Johanne. Meantime Alan, one may believe, had consigned the mazer to a safe place, and joined in the congratulations of Johanne's friends.

Would you know how a young married couple set up house-keeping? Here is the inventory of the household furniture of such a pair in the fourteenth century. It is not the only document of the kind{254} which exists, but it is interesting because it forms part of a story which remains unfinished.


The inventory belongs to the year 1337. The proprietor's name was Hugh le Bevere; that of his wife Alice. Hugh le Bevere was a craftsman of the better sort, but not a master. He was so well off that the furniture of his house, including clothes, was valued at £12 18s. 4d., which, being interpreted into modern money, means about £200. He had been married but a short time when the events occurred which caused this inventory to be drawn up. The newly-married pair lived in a house consisting of two rooms, one above the other. The lower room, which was kitchen and keeping-room in one, was divided from the houses on either side by solid stone walls; it had a chimney and a fireplace; the walls were hung round with kitchen utensils, tools, and weapons; a window opened to the street, the upper part of which was glazed, while the lower part could be closed by a stout shutter; the door opened into the street; there was another door at the back, which opened upon a buttery, where there stood ranged in a row six casks of{255} wine. One folding-table and two chairs served for their wants, because they were not rich enough to entertain their friends. A ladder led to the upper room, which was an attic or garret, built of wood and thatched with rush. Here was the bed with a mattress, three feather beds, and two pillows. A great wooden coffer held their household gear; here were six blankets and one serge, a coverlet with shields of sendall (a kind of thin silk), eight linen sheets, four table-cloths. The clothes, which were laid in chests or hung upon the wall, consisted of three surcoats of worsted and ray; one coat with a hood of perset (peach-colored cloth), and another of worsted; two robes of perset; one of medley, furred; one of scarlet, furred; a great hood of sendall with edging; one camise (only one!) and half a dozen savenapes (aprons). One perceives that the inventory omits many things. Where, for instance, were the hosen and the shoon? For kitchen utensils there were brass pots, a grate, andirons, basins, washing vessels, a tripod, an iron horse, an iron spit, a frying-pan, a funnel, and two ankers—i.e. tubs. They had one candlestick "of lattone;" two plates; an aumbrey (cabinet or small cupboard); curtains to hang before the doors to keep out the cold; cushions and a green carpet; and for the husband a haketon, or suit of leather armor, and an iron head-piece. Of knives, forks, wooden plates, cups, glasses, or drinking measures there is nothing said at all. But it is evident that the house was provided with everything necessary for solid comfort; plenty of kitchen vessels, for instance, and plenty of soft feather-beds, blankets, pillows, curtains, and sheets.

Every morning at six o'clock, after a hunch of{256} bread, a substantial slice of cold meat, and a pull at the black-jack of small ale, Hugh le Bevere walked off to his day's work. Then Alice, left at home, washed and scoured, made and mended, cooked the dinner, talked to the neighbors, and, when all was done, sat in the door-way enjoying the sunshine and spinning busily.

They had been married but a short time. There were no children. Then—one knows nothing; one must not judge harshly; there may have been jealousy; there may have been cause for jealousy; perhaps the woman had a tongue unendurable (fourteenth-century tongues were cruelly sharp); perhaps the man had a temper uncontrolled (in that century there were many such); but no one knows, and, again, we must not judge—then, I say, the end came, suddenly and without warning. When it was all over, some of the neighbors thought they had heard high words and a smothered shriek, but then we often think we have heard what probably happened. In the morning Hugh le Bevere went not forth to his work as usual; Alice did not open the door; the shutters remained closed. The neighbors knocked; there was no answer. They sent for the Alderman, who came with his sergeants, and broke open the door. Alas! alas! They found the body of Alice lying stark and dead upon the floor; beside her sat her husband with white face and haggard eyes, and the evidence of his crime, the knife itself, lying where he had thrown it.

They haled him to the Lord Mayor's Court. They questioned him. He made no reply at first, looking as one distraught; when he spoke, he refused to{257} plead. For this, in later times, he would have been pressed to death. What was done to him was almost as bad; for they took him to Newgate, and shut him up in a cell with penance—that is to say, on bread and water—until he died.


This done, they buried the unfortunate Alice, and made the inventory of all the chattels, which the City confiscated, and sold for £12 18s. 4d., out of which, no doubt, they paid for the funeral of the woman and the penance of the man. The rest, one hopes, was laid out in masses, as far as it would go, for the souls of the hapless pair. Death has long since released Hugh{258} le Bevere; he has entered his plea before another Court; but the City has never learned why he killed his wife, or if, indeed, he really did kill her.

Of Plantagenet London this is my picture. You see a busy, boisterous, cheerful city; with the exception of the cities of Ghent and Bruges and Antwerp, the busiest and the most prosperous city of the western world, with the greatest liberty of the people, the greatest plenty of all good things, and the happiest conditions of any town. You have seen that though the sovereign was King within as well as without the walls, there was no other Over-Lord; the royal hand was sometimes heavy, but its weight was better to bear than the internal dissensions that ravaged the Italian cities; it was better that London should suffer with the rest of the country than that she should sit, like Venice, secure and selfish beside her quays, though the people of the land behind were torn with civil wars and destroyed by famine and overrun by a foreign enemy.

When we think of this period let us never forget its external splendor—the silken banners, the heralds in their embroidered coats, the livery of the great lords, the Mayor and Aldermen in their robes riding to hear mass at St. Paul's, the cloth of gold, the vair and miniver, the ermine and the sable, the robes of perset and the hoods of sendall, the red velvet and the scarlet silk, the great gold chains, the caps embroidered with pearls, the horses with their trappings, the banners and the shields, the friars jostling the parish priests, the men-at-arms, the city ladies, as glorious with their raiment as the ladies of the court, the knights, the common folk, the merchant, and the prentice. Mostly{261} I like to think of the prentice. One always envies the young; theirs is the inheritance. The prentice lived amid these glories, which seemed like pageants invented entirely for his delight. It was time when the fleeting shows and vanities of life were valued all the more because they were so fleeting. He looked around, and his heart swelled with the joy of thinking that some day these things would fall to him if he was lucky, diligent, and watchful. His was the threefold vow of industry, obedience, and duty. By keeping this vow he would attain to the place and station of his master.


Meantime, there were great sights to be seen and no hinderance to his seeing them.

When there any ridings were in Chepe,
Out of the shoppe thider would he lepe:
And till that he had all the sights y seen,
And danced well he would not come again.

For the continued noise and uproar of the City, for its crowds, for its smells, the people cared nothing. They were part of the City. They loved everything that belonged to it—their great cathedral; their hundred churches; their monasteries; their palaces and the men-at-arms; the nobles, priests, and monks; the Mayor and Aldermen; the ships and the sailors; the merchants and the craftsmen; the ridings and the festivals and the holy days; the ringing, clinging, clashing of the bells all day long; the drinking at the taverns; the wrestling and the archery; the dancing; the pipe and tabor; the pageants, and the mumming and the love-making—all, all they loved. And they{262} thought in their pride that there was not anywhere in the whole habitable world—witness the pilgrims and the ship-captains, who had seen the whole habitable world—any city that might compare with famous London Town.


[13] Plague in 1348, 1361, 1367, 1369, 1407, 1478, 1485, and 1500.

[14] Cunningham, Growth of English Industry, p. 416.





If the London of the Third Edward was a city of palaces, that of Queen Elizabeth was a city of ruins.

Ruins everywhere! Ruins of cloisters, halls, dormitories, courts, and chapels, and churches. Ruins of carved altar-pieces, canopies, statues, painted windows, and graven fonts. Ruins of old faiths and old traditions. Ruins everywhere. Only consider what became of the monastic buildings. King Edward's Cistercian House, called the New Abbey, or Eastminster, was pulled "clean down," and in its place storehouses for victuals and ovens for making ships' biscuits were set up. On the abbey grounds were erected small tenements for poor working-people, the only inhabitants of that neighborhood where is now the Mint. Sir Arthur Darcie it was who did this. The Convent of St. Clare, called the Minories, was similarly treated, its site converted into storehouses. The old buildings are always said to have been entirely pulled down, but their destruction was never thorough. Walls were everywhere left standing, because it was too{264} much trouble to pull them down. For instance, the north wall of the present mean little Church of the Holy Trinity, Minories, ugliest and meanest of all modern London churches, was formerly part of the wall of the nuns' chapel.


More fortunate than the other monastic churches, that of the Austin Friars was allowed to remain standing. The nave was walled off and assigned to the Dutch residents, with whom it has continued to this day. You may attend the service on Sunday, and while the preacher in the black gown addresses his scanty audience in the language which, though it sounds so much like English, you cannot understand, you may look about you, and think of the Augustine Brothers who built this church. In their time it was filled with monuments, of which not a single one now remains. The nave was greatly damaged by a fire in 1862, but the walls and columns of the ancient church remain. The rest of the church, including the finest and most beautiful spire in the whole city, was all pulled down by the Marquis of Winchester, who broke up and sold the whole of the monuments for £100. In this church were buried, among other illustrious dead, the great Hubert de Burgh; Edmund Plantagenet, half brother to Richard II.; the barons who fell at the battle of Barnet; Richard FitzAlan, Earl of Arundel, beheaded 1397; the Earl of Oxford,{265} beheaded 1463; and Edward Strafford, Duke of Buckingham, beheaded 1521. Winchester House, which stood till fifty years ago, was built on part of the abbey grounds; Cromwell House, on a site where now stands the Drapers' Hall, on another part.

The Priory of the Holy Trinity, granted to Sir Thomas Audley, fared worse still, for the whole church—choir, transepts, nave, steeple, and all—was, with great labor, pulled down, and the whole materials and monuments sold for paving or building stones at sixpence a cart-load. The ring of nine bells was divided between Stepney Church and St. Katherine Cree, where, I believe, they still hang and do their duty. So much, and that is all, is left of this proud foundation. Sir Thomas Audley, who obtained the precinct by gift of the King, built a house upon it. His daughter and heiress marrying the Duke of Norfolk, the house and grounds were named after their new owner. Duke's Place and Duke Street preserve the new name. The former, now a mean square, crowded with Jews engaged in the fruit trade, is certainly the site of one of the courts of the old priory. It is at the back of St. Katherine Cree Church in Leadenhall Street. Strange, that of this most rich and splendid house not a vestige should remain either of name, or building, or tradition.

Crutched Friars' Church was made into a carpenter's shop and a tennis court. Their refectory, a very noble hall, became a glass-house, and was burned to the ground in the year 1575.

St. Mary's Spital, outside Bishopsgate, which had been a hospital with one hundred and eighty beds, was entirely destroyed and built over. But Spital{266} Square, which now remains, marks the site of the church-yard, where stood (in the north-east corner) the famous spital pulpit, from which, for three hundred years, sermons were preached at Easter before the Lord Mayor and Aldermen and the citizens. It is an illustration of English conservatism that long after the hospital was demolished, and when the pulpit stood in an ordinary square of private residences, the same custom was kept up, with the same official attendance of the corporation.

The Nunnery of St. Helen's became the property of the Leathersellers' Company. The nuns' chapel still remains forming the north part of a church, which, for its antiquity and its monuments, is one of the most interesting in London. The nuns' refectory formed the Company's Hall until the year 1790, when, with its ancient crypt, it was pulled down to make way for the present St. Helen's Place. Considerable ruins of the nunnery remained until the same time.

The Church of the Knights Hospitallers was blown up with gunpowder; its ruins and those of the priory buildings remained for many years. The Charter House was first given by Henry VIII. to Sir Thomas Audley, passed from him to Lord North, to Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, to Lord North again, to the Duke of Norfolk, to the Crown, to the Earl of Suffolk, and to Thomas Sutton. The last transfer was in 1611. Sutton endowed it as a charity under the name of the Hospital of King James. This noble foundation has ever since existed as a hospital for decayed gentlemen and a school for boys. Some of the old monastic buildings yet survive in the Charter House. Its name of the Hospital of King James has long been{267} forgotten. The place has been celebrated by Thackeray, and it is, at this day, the most beautiful and the most venerable monument of old London.

The magnificent Church of the Dominicans, or Black Friars, was destroyed. Either the hall of the abbey or a portion of the church was used as a storehouse for the "properties" of pageants—strange fate for the house of the Dominicans, those austere upholders of doctrine. A play-house was erected by Shakespeare and his friends among the ruins, which remained standing for a long time. Only a few years ago the extension of the Times offices in Printing House Square brought to light many substantial remains. The Abbey of Bermondsey furnished materials and a site for a great house for the Earl of Sussex. A tavern was built on the site, of the Church of St. Martin's le Grand. The Church of St. Bartholomew's Priory was pulled down to the choir, which was converted into a parish church. The bells were put up in the tower of St. Sepulchre. The Church of the Grey Friars was spared; but as for its monuments—consider! There were buried here the queens of Edward I. and Edward II., the queen of David Bruce, an innumerable company of great lords, nobles, and fighting men, with their dames and daughters. The place was a Campo Santo of mediæval worthies. Their monuments, Stow writes, "are wholly defaced. There were nine tombs of alabaster and marble, environed with 'strikes' of iron, in the choir, and one tomb in the body of the church, also coped with iron, all pulled down, besides sevenscore gravestones of marble." The whole were sold for £50 or thereabouts by Sir Martin Bowes, goldsmith and Alderman of London.{268} Surely the carved marble and sculptured alabaster did not teach the hated papistical superstitions; yet they all went; and it was with bare walls, probably washed white or yellow to hide the frescos, that the building became the parish now called Christ Church. The monastery buildings were converted into the Bluecoat School.

Such was the fate of the greater houses. Add to these the smaller foundations, all whelmed in the common destruction; the colleges, such as that of St. Spirit, founded by Whittington; that founded by Walworth; that founded by Richard III., attached to Allhallows Barking; St. John's, Holywell; St. Thomas of Acon, a rich foundation with a lovely church; the College of Jesus; the Hospital of St. Anthony; Jesus Commons; Elsing Spital; and we begin to realize that London was literally a city of ruins.

It is at first hard to understand how there should have been, even among the baser sort, so little reverence for the past, so little regard for art; that these treasure-houses of precious marbles and rare carvings should have been rifled and destroyed without raising so much as a murmur; nay, that the very buildings themselves should have been pulled down without a protest. Once only the citizens remonstrated. It was in the hope of saving from destruction the lofty and most beautiful spire of Austin Friars, but in vain. It seems to us impossible that the tombs of so many worthies should have been destroyed without the indignation of all who knew the story of the past. Yet in our own day we have seen—nay, we see daily—the wanton and useless destruction of ancient buildings.{269} Winchester House, which ought to have been kept as a national monument, was pulled down in 1839; Sir Paul Pinder's house, another unique specimen, vanished only yesterday; within the last few years a dozen city churches have been destroyed, in total disregard to their historical associations. At this very moment the church where John Carpenter, Whittington's executor and the founder of the City of London school, the church whose site has been consecrated as long as that of any church in the city, where King Alfred may have worshipped, is standing roofless, waiting to make way for offices not wanted. Nay, the very city clergy themselves, the official guardians of all that is venerable, have, in our own days—the actual, living city clergy!—basely sold their most beautiful old house, Sion College, and built a new and garish place on the Thames Embankment, which they call Sion College! It is unfortunately too true that there is not, at any time or with any people, reverence for things venerable, old, and historical, save with a few. The greater part are careless of the past, unable to see or feel anything but the present. The city clergy of to-day are no better than Sir Thomas Audrey, Sir Arthur Darcie, and the rest.

There were other ruins. Cromwell's men were not the only zealots against popish monuments, signs, and symbols. The parish churches were filled with ruins. The carved fonts were defaced; the side chapels were desolate and empty; the altars were stripped; the rood screens were removed; the roods themselves were taken down; the painted walls were whitewashed; the simple service that was read in the vulgar tongue seemed to the people at first a ruin of the old mass;{270} the clergyman, called minister or priest, who preached in the black gown, was a ruin of the priest in his gorgeous robes; the very doctrines of the Protestant faith seemed at first built out of the ruins of the old, as the second Temple was built upon the ruins of the first, and was but a poor thing in comparison. At first only, because the work was thorough, and in a single generation all the traditions of the ancient faith were lost and forgotten.

If, indeed, the Reformation was to be carried at all, it was necessary, for the prevention of civil war, that it should be thorough. Therefore the young generation must be made to believe that a return of the old things was absolutely impossible; that the old religion could never, under any circumstances, be revived. When Queen Mary ascended the throne, the work was only half done; the Protestant faith had not yet taken root; yet when she died, five years later, no lamentations were made over the second departure of the priests. It is a commonplace that the flames of Smithfield, more than the preaching of Latimer, reconciled the people to the loss of the old religion. I do not think that the commonplace is more than half true, because the flames were again kindled, and more than once, in the reign of Elizabeth without any murmur from the people. Henceforth the old religion was dead indeed, and impossible to be revived. When Shakespeare came up to London, he found many who could remember the monks—gray, white, and black; the Franciscan—innocent of the old simplicity; the rich and stately Benedictine; the austere Dominican; the pardoner and the limitour; the mass, and the holy days of the Church; but we find in Shakespeare's{273} writings no trace of any regret for their disappearance, or of any desire for their return. The past was gone; even the poetic side of a highly poetic time was not touched, or hardly touched, by the sadness and pathos of this great fall; the dramatists and poets have made nothing out of it.


The people lived among the ruins but regarded them not, any more than the vigorous growth within the court of a roofless Norman castle regards the donjon and the walls. They did not inquire into the history of the ruins; they did not want to preserve them; they took away the stones and sold them for new buildings.

It was very remarkable and very fitting that on the site of the Grey Friars' House should be erected a great school. The teaching of the new thought was established in the place where those dwelt who had been the most stalwart defenders of the old. It was also very remarkable and very fitting that within the walls of Black Friars' Abbey, the home of austerity and authority, should rise a play-house for the dramas of free thought and human passion. It was further remarkable and very fitting that the house of the Carthusian monks, those who had fled from the work, and war, and temptations of the world, those who, while yet living, were already dead, should be converted into a home for those who were broken down and spent with that very work and war, a place where they could meditate in their old age over the storm and struggle of the past.

Once arrived at the second half of the sixteenth century we are in modern times. We have maps, surveys, descriptions of the city; we have literature in{274} plenty to illustrate the manners of the time. There is no longer any doubt upon any point. The daily life of London under Elizabeth and the first James may be learned in all its details, by any one who will take the trouble to read, as easily as the daily life in our own time. Perhaps more easily, because things which are so trivial and yet mean so much are passed over or taken for granted in the literature of our day. But let no one be content with reading the modern books upon the Elizabethan period. They contain a great deal, but the literature of the time itself is a storehouse, into which every one who wishes, however lightly, to study the time should look for himself. And it is a storehouse so full that no man can hope to exhaust though he could carry out of it load upon load of treasure.


Before me hangs a fac-simile of the map made by Ralph Agas. "Civitas Londinium." One remarks first, that the part lying south of Chepe is still the most crowded, yet not so crowded that there are no open spaces. Between Size Lane, for instance, and Walbrook is a great garden. Behind Whittington College is a large open court, which was also certainly a garden. There are gardens in Blackfriars of which the only remains at the present day are the pretty little square called Wardrobe Court and the tiny garden—I believe there is still one other garden left—at the back of the rectory of St. Andrew's. North of Chepe the streets are wider, and the open spaces larger and more frequent. At Grey Friars, already the Bluecoat School, the courts of the monastery are yet standing with the church, and the great garden still stretches unto the city wall; in the corner of the wall, where{277} is now Monkwell Street, with Barber Surgeon's Hall, is a fine large garden. On either side of Coleman Street there are very extensive gardens; those on the west belonged to the Augustine Friars, the last remnant of which, the Drapers' Garden, was built over a few years ago to the enrichment of the Company and the loss of the city. Some part of the gardens of the Holy Trinity Priory remain. There are gardens and trees and an open space within Aldgate; and an open court, or series of courts, where had been the nunnery of St. Helen's. Without the walls, on the east, East Smithfield is a large field, with paths across. The sites of New Abbey and the convent of the Clare Sisters are marked by courts and gardens. Houses stand north and south along the Whitechapel Road, but not far; a single row of houses runs along Hound's ditch from Aldgate to Bishopsgate. Without the latter there is a line of houses as far as Shoreditch Church, and here the open country begins. Finsbury and Moorfields are to a great extent divided up into gardens, each with its house, reminding one of Stubbes's complaint against the citizens' wives and daughters, that they use their husbands' gardens outside the walls for purposes of intrigue. All round the north and east of the city the people could step out of the gates into the country. Except the houses of Bishopsgate Without and the Whitechapel Road, there was nothing but fields and open ground. Around St. Giles, Cripplegate, however, we find a suburb already populous. About Smithfield the houses gather thickly. We observe the familiar names of Little Britain, Pye Corner, Cock Lane, and Hoosier Lane. Holborn, with gardens on the north, has a double line{278} of houses as far as Chancery Lane. Where is now Blackfriars Bridge Road stood the palace of Bridewell, with its two square courts and its gabled front facing the river. Whitefriars is partly built upon, but some of the courts and gardens remain. The lawns of the Temple, planted with elms, slope down to the river, and these were followed westward by the palaces along the Strand—Exeter House, Arundel House, the Bishop of Llandaff's house, Somerset House, the Savoy, Bedford House, Cecil House, Northumberland House, and the rest, of which Somerset House alone remains, and that in altered guise. There are no docks as yet. The lading and the unlading of the ships continued almost until this century to be done in the Pool below London Bridge by barges and lighters.

In considering the people of London in the time of good Queen Bess one is forced to put the poets and dramatists first, because they are the chief glory of this wonderful reign. Yet such a harvest could only spring from a fruitful soil. Of such temper as were the poets, so also—so courageous, so hopeful, so confident—were the inarticulate mass for whom they sang and spoke. Behind Kit Marlowe, Greene, and Peele were the turbulent youth, prodigal of life, eager for joy, delighting in feast and song, always ready for a fight, extravagant in speech and thought, jubilant in their freedom from the tyranny of the Church. Behind Spenser and Sydney were the cultivated class, whose culture has never been surpassed. Behind Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Massenger, and Beaumont, and the rest were the people of all conditions, from Gloriana herself down to Bardolph and Doll. We{279} can only get at the people through those who write about them. Therefore we must needs say something about the Elizabethan poets.

Fortunately there are plenty of them. In proportion to the population, far, very far more than we have even at the present day, when every year the reviews find it necessary to cry out over the increasing tide of new books. Of poets, in what other age could the historian enumerate forty of the higher and nearly two hundred of the lower rank? Of the forty, most are well remembered and read even to the present day; for instance, Chapman, Giles and Phineas Fletcher, Robert Greene, Marston, Sackville, Sylvester, Donne, Drayton, Drummond, Gascoigne, Marlowe, Raleigh, Spenser, Wither, may be taken as poets still read and loved, while the list does not include Shakespeare and the dramatists. Nearly two hundred and forty poets! Why, with a population of a hundred millions of English-speaking people now in the world, we have not a half or a sixth of that number, while in the same proportion we should have to equal in number the Elizabethan singers—about 5000. But in that age every gentleman wrote verse; the cultivation of poetry was like the cultivation of music. Every man could play an instrument; every man could take his part in a glee or madrigal; so, also, every man could turn his set of verses, with the result of a fine and perfect flower of poetry which has never been surpassed.

But they were not only poets. They had every kind of literature in far greater abundance, considering the small number of educated people, than exists in our own time, and in as great variety. Consider!{280} There are now scattered over the whole world a hundred millions of English-speaking people, of whom at least five-sixths read something, if it is only a penny newspaper, and at least a half read books of some kind. In Elizabeth's reign there were about six millions, of whom more than half could not read at all. The reading public of Great Britain and Ireland, considered with regard to numbers, resembled what is now found in Holland, Norway, or Denmark. Yet from so small a people came this mass of literature, great, varied, and immortal.

In the matter of fiction alone they were already rich. There were knightly books: the Morte d'Arthur, the Seven Champions, Amadis of Gaul, Godfrey of Bouillon, Palmerin of England, and many more. There were story-books, as the Seven Wise Masters, the Gesta Romanorum, the Amorous Fiammetta, the jest books of Skogin, Tarleton, Hobson, Skelton, Peele, and others. There was the famous Euphues, Sidney's Arcadia, all the pastoral romances, and the "picaresque" novels of Nash and Dekker. Then there were the historians and chroniclers, as Stow, Camden, Speed, Holinshed; the essayists, as Sir Thomas Browne, Ascham, Bacon; the theologians, of whom there were hundreds; the satirists, as Bishop Hall and Marston; the writers of what we should call light literature—Greene, Nash, Peele, and Dekker. And there were translations, as from the Italian, Boccaccio, Ariosto, Biondello, Tasso, and others; from the French, Froissart, Montaigne, Plutarch (Amyot), the Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles (in the Hundred Merry Tales), and the stories of the Forest and the Palace of Pleasure. And there were all the dramatists. Never before or since{281} has the country been better supplied with new literature and good books.

Remember, again, everything was new. All the books were new; the printing-press was new; you could almost count the volumes that had been issued. It was reckoned a great thing for Dr. Dee to have three thousand printed books. Every scholar found a classic which had not been translated, and took him in hand. Every traveller brought home some modern writer, chiefly Italian, previously unknown. Every sailor brought home the record of a voyage to unknown seas and to unknown shores. It was a time when the world had become suddenly conscious of a vast, an inconceivable widening, the results of which could not yet be foretold. But the knowledge filled men with such hopes as had never before been experienced. Scholars and poets, merchants and sailors, rovers and adventurers, all alike were moved by the passion and ecstasy of the time. Strange time! Wonderful time! We who read the history of that time too often confine our attention to the political history. We are able, with the help of Froude, quite clearly to understand the perplexities and troubles of the Maiden Queen; we see her, in her anxiety, playing off Spaniard against Frenchman, to avoid destruction should they act together. But the people know and suspect none of these things. State affairs are too high for them. They only see the brightness of the sky and the promise of the day; they only feel the quickening influence of the spring; their blood is fired; they have got new hopes, a new faith, new openings, new learning. And they bear themselves accordingly. That is to say, with extravagances innumerable, with{282} confidence and courage lofty, unexampled. Why, it fires the blood of this degenerate time only to think of the mighty enlargement of that time. When one considers when they lived and what they talked, one understands Kit Marlowe and Robert Greene, and that wild company of scholars and poets; they would cram into whatever narrow span of life was granted them all—all—all—that life can give of learning and poetry, and feasting and love and joy. They were intoxicated with the ideas of their time. They were weighed down with the sheaves—the golden harvest of that wondrous reaping. Who would not live in such a time? The little world had become, almost suddenly, very large, inconceivably large. The boys of London, playing about the river stairs and the quays, listened to the talk of men who had sailed along those newly-discovered coasts of the new great world, and had seen strange monsters and wild people. In the taverns men—bearded, bronzed, scarred—grave men, with deep eyes and low voice, who had sailed to the Guinea coast, round the Cape to Hindostan, across the Spanish Main, over the ocean to Virginia, sat in the tavern and told to youths with flushed cheeks and panting, eager breath queer tales of danger and escape between their cups of sack. We were not yet advanced beyond believing in the Ethiopian with four eyes, the Arimaspi with one eye, the Hippopodes or Centaurs, the Monopoli, or men who have no head, but carry their faces in their breasts and their eyes in their shoulders. None of these monsters, it is true, had ever been caught and brought home; but many an honest fellow, if hard pressed by his hearers, would reluctantly confess to having seen them. On the{285} other hand, negroes and red Indians were frequently brought home and exhibited. And there were crocodiles, alive or stuffed; crocodiles' skins, the skins of bears and lions, monkeys, parrots, flying-fish dried, and other curious things. And there were always the legends—that of the land of gold, the Eldorado; that of the kingdom of Prester John; that of St. Brandan's Island; and, but this was later, the theory—proved with mathematical certainty—of the great southern continent. Enough, and more than enough, to inflame the imagination of adventurers, to drive the lads aboard ship, to make them long for the sails to be spread and to be making their way anywhere—anywhere—in search of adventure, conquest, glory, and gold.


Such an enlargement, such hopes, can never again return to the world. That is impossible, save on one chance. We cannot make the world any wider; by this time we know it nearly all; the pristine mystery—the awfulness of the unknown—has wellnigh gone out of every land, even New Guinea and Central Africa. Yet there is this one chance. Science may and will widen the world—for her own disciples—in many new and unexpected ways. The sluggish imagination of the majority is little touched even by such marvels as the electric telegraph, the phonograph, the telephone. For them science in any form cannot enlarge their boundaries. Suppose, however, a thing to be achieved which should go right home to the comprehension, brain, and heart of every living man. Suppose that science should prevent, conquer, and annihilate disease. Suppose our span of life enlarged to two hundred, three hundred, five hundred years, and that{286} suddenly. Think of the wild exaltations, the extravagances, the prodigalities, the omnivorous attempts of the scholar, the universal grasp of the physicist, the amazing and audacious experiments of chemist, electrician, biologist, and the long reach of the statesman! Think of these things, I say, and remember that in the age of Elizabeth, of Raleigh, Drake, Marlowe, Nash, Greene, Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Spenser, Bacon, and the rest similar causes produced similar effects.

We have seen the development of the mediæval house from the simple common hall. The Elizabethan house shows an immense advance in architecture. I believe that the noblest specimen now remaining is Burghley House in Northamptonshire, built by Cecil, Lord Burghley and first Earl of Exeter. The house is built about a square court. The west front has a lofty square tower. Let us, with Burghley House before us, read what Bacon directs as to building. The front, he says, must have a tower, with a wing on either side. That on the right was to consist of nothing but a "goodly room of some forty feet high"—he does not give the length—"and under it a room for dressing or preparing place at times of triumphs." By triumphs he means pageants, mummings, and masques. "On the other side, which is the household side, I wish it divided at the first into a hall and a chapel (with a partition between), both of good state and bigness. And these not to go all the length, but to have at the further end a winter and a summer parlor, both fair." Here are to be the cellars, kitchens, butteries, and pantries. "Beyond this front is to be a fair court, but three sides of it of a far lower building than the{287} front. And in all the four corners of the court fair staircases, cast into turrets on the outside, and not within the row of buildings themselves.... Let the court not be paved, for that striketh up a great heat in summer and much cold in winter. But only some side alleys with a cross, and the quarters to graze being kept shorn, but not too near shorn." Stately galleries with colored windows are to run along the banquet side; on the household side, "chambers of presence and ordinary entertainments, with bedchambers." Beyond this court is to be a second of the same square, with a garden and a cloister. Other directions he gives which, if they were carried out, would make a very fine house indeed. But these we may pass over.{288} In short, Bacon's idea of a good house was much like a college. That of Clare, Cambridge, for instance, would have been considered by Bacon as a very good house indeed, though the arrangement of the banqueting-room was not exactly as the philosopher would have it. The College of Christ's in its old form, with the garden square beyond, was still more after the manner recommended by Bacon.


It will be seen that we are now a good way removed from the Saxon Hall with the people sleeping on the floor, yet Bacon's house lineally descends from that beginning. All the old houses in London were built in this way, as may be illustrated by many which retain the old form, as well as by those which remain. Hampton Court, for instance, built by Wolsey; Northumberland House, recently taken down; Gresham House, taken down a hundred years ago; Somerset House, still standing, though much altered; the old Navy Office, the court of which still remains; some of the old almshouses, notably Trinity Almshouse, in the Whitechapel Road; Emanuel, Westminster; and the Norfolk Hospital, Greenwich, Gray's Inn, Clifford's Inn, Staple Inn, Barnard's Inn—which contains the oldest house in London—are admirable specimens of Bacon's house; while in the old taverns, of which a few imperfect specimens still exist, we have the galleries which Bacon would construct within his court.

In the reign of Elizabeth, while the merchants were growing richer and increasing in number and in wealth, the great nobles were gradually leaving the city. Those who remained kept up but a remnant of their former splendor. Elizabeth refused license for{289} the immense number of retainers formerly allowed; she would suffer a hundred at the most. It was a time rather for the rise of new families than the continued greatness of the old. The nobles, as they went away, sold their London houses to the citizens. Thus Winchester House and Crosby Hall went to merchants; Derby House to the College of Heralds; Cold Harbor was pulled down in 1590, and its site built over with tenements; the Duke of Norfolk's house, on the site of Holy Trinity Priory, was shortly after destroyed, and the place assigned to the newly-arrived colony of Jews. Barnard's Castle alone among the city palaces remained in the possession of a great noble until the fire came and swept it away.


Great beyond all precedent was the advance of trade in this golden age. Elizabeth was wise and wisely advised in the treatment of the City and the{290} merchants. Perhaps she followed the example of King Edward the Fourth. Perhaps she remembered (but this I doubt) that she belonged to the City by her mother's side, for her great-grandfather, Sir Geoffrey Boleyn, had been Lord Mayor a hundred years before her accession. But the rapid growth of London trade seems to me chiefly due to the wisdom of one man—Sir Thomas Gresham.

This great man, even more than Whittington, is the typical London merchant. Not a self-made man at all, but coming of a good old country stock—always a master, always of the class which commands. Nearly all the great London merchants have, as has already been stated, belonged to that class. His family came originally from Gresham, in Norfolk; his father, Sir Richard, was Lord Mayor; his uncle, Sir John, also Lord Mayor, saved Bethlehem Hospital at the dissolution of the religious houses. Not a poor and friendless lad, by any means; from the outset he had every advantage that wealth and station can afford. He was educated at Gonville (afterwards Gonville and Caius) College, Cambridge. It was not until he had taken his degree that he was apprenticed to his uncle, and he was past twenty-four when he was received into the Mercers' Company.

When he was thirty-two years of age a thing happened to Thomas Gresham which proved to be the most fortunate chance that ever came to the City of London. He was appointed Royal Agent at Antwerp. The King's loans were at that time always offered at Antwerp or Bruges, and were taken up by merchants of the Low Countries at the enormous interest of 14 per cent. Sometimes a part of the advance{293} had to take the form of jewels. At this time the annual interest on the debt amounted to £40,000; and while the exchange was sixteen Flemish shillings to the pound sterling, the agent had to pay in English money. The post, therefore, was not an easy one to fill.


Gresham, however, reduced the interest from 14 per cent. to 12, or even 10 per cent. He suppressed the jewels, and took the whole of the loan in money; and he continued to enjoy the confidence of Edward's ministers, of Queen Mary, and of Queen Elizabeth. In order to effect this, he must have been a most able and honest servant, or else a most supple courtier. He was the former. Now, had he done nothing more than played the part of Royal Agent better than any one who went before him, he might have been as much forgotten as his predecessors. But he did much more. The City owes to Gresham a debt of gratitude impossible to be repaid. This is a foolish sentence, because gratitude can never be repaid. You may always entertain and nourish gratitude, and you can do service in return, but gratitude remains. A great service once received is a possession forever, and generally a fruitful and growing possession.

When Queen Elizabeth ascended the throne the commercial centre of the world was Antwerp; when she died, the commercial centre of the world was London. This transfer had been effected by the wisdom and foresight of one man taking advantage of the times and their chances. The religious wars of the Netherlands brought immense losses to Antwerp. These losses Gresham desired to make London's gains. But he was met with the initial difficulty that the{294} merchants of London had not yet learned to act together. They had, it is true, the old trading company of merchant adventurers, but that stood alone; besides, its ambitions were modest. They had no experience in union; there was no central institution which should be the city's brain, the place where the merchants could meet and receive news and consult together. Now, at Antwerp there was a goodly Bourse. What if London could also have its Bourse?

Well, Gresham built a Bourse; he gave it to the city; he formed this place of meeting for the merchants; the Queen opened it, and called it the Royal Exchange. The possession of the Exchange was followed immediately by such a development of enterprise as had been unknown before in the history of the City. Next he persuaded the citizens to take up the Queen's loans themselves, so that the interest, at 12 per cent., should remain in the country. He showed his own people how to take advantage of Antwerp's disasters and to divert her trade to the port of London. As for his Bourse, it stood on the site of the present Royal Exchange, but the front was south in Cornhill. The west front was blocked up by houses. The building was of brick and mortar, three stories high, with dormer windows in the high-pitched roof. At every corner was a pinnacle surmounted by a grasshopper—the Gresham crest. On the south side rose a lofty tower with a bell, which called the merchants together at noon in the morning and at six in the evening. Within was an open court surrounded by covered walks, adorned with statues of kings, behind which were shops rented by milliners, haberdashers, and sellers of trifles. This was the lower pawne.{295} Above, in the upper pawne, there were armorers, apothecaries, book-sellers, goldsmiths, and glass-sellers. The Bourse was opened by Queen Elizabeth on January 23, 1571. She changed its name from the Bourse to the Royal Exchange. When it was destroyed in the fire of 1666, it was observed that all the statues were destroyed, except that of Gresham himself.


To illustrate this increase in English trade, we have these facts: In the reign of Edward VI., a time of great decay, there were few Merchant Adventurers and hardly any English ships. When Elizabeth began to reign there were no more than 317 merchants in all, of whom the Company of Mercers formed ninety-nine. Before her reign it was next to impossible{296} for the city to raise a loan of £10,000. Before she died the city was advancing to the Queen loans of £60,000. Before her reign the only foreign trade was a venture or two into Russia; everything came across from Antwerp and Sluys. During her reign the foreign trade was developed in an amazing manner. New commodities were exported, as beer and sea coal, a great many new things were introduced—new trades, new luxuries. For instance, apricots, turkeys, hops, tobacco were brought over and planted and naturalized. Fans, ladies' wigs, fine knives, pins, needles, earthen fire-pots, silk and crystal buttons, shoe-buckles, glass-making, nails, paper were made in this country for the first time. The Merchant Adventurers, who had been incorporated under Edward I., obtained fresh rights and larger powers; they obtained the abolition of the privileges enjoyed for three hundred years by the Hanseatic merchant; they established courts at Antwerp, Dordrecht, and Hamburg; they had houses at York, Hull, and Newcastle. Further, when we read that they exported wine, oil, silks, and fruits, in addition to the products of the country, it is clear that they had already obtained some of the carrying trade of the world. Of the trading companies founded under Elizabeth and her successors, only one now survives. Yet the whole trade of this country was created by these companies.

Who, for instance, now remembers the Eastland Company, or Merchants of Elbing? Yet they had a long existence as a company; and long after their commercial life was gone they used to elect their officers every year, and hold a feast. Perhaps they do still. Their trade was with the Baltic. Or the Russian{297} Company? That sprang out of a company called the "Merchant Adventurers for the Discovery of Lands not before known to or frequented by the English."

This company sent out Sir Hugh Willoughby, with three ships, to find a north-east passage to China. But Sir Hugh was forced to put in at a port in Russian Lapland, where he and all his men were frozen to death. The Russian Company became whalers, and quarrelled with the Dutch over the fishing. It had a checkered career, and finally died, but, like the Eastland Company, it continued to elect officers and to dine together long after its work was over. Or the Turkey Company, which lasted from 1586 to 1825, when it dissolved? Or the Royal African Company, which lived from 1530 to 1821? There were, also, the Merchants of Spain; the French Merchants; the Merchants of Virginia; the East India Company, the greatest and most powerful of any trading company ever formed; the Hudson Bay Company, which still exists; the South Sea Company; the Guinea Company; the Canary Company. Some of these belong to a later period, but they speak of the spirit of the enterprise and adventure first awakened under Elizabeth.

In the Church of St. Martin Outwich, now pulled down, was a monument to the chief actor in the promotion of these trading companies. "Here," said the tombstone, "resteth the body of the worshipful Mr. Richard Staple, elected Alderman of this city 1584. He was the greatest Merchant in his time; the chiefest Actor in the Discovery of the Trade of Turkey and East India; a man humble in prosperity, painful and ever ready in affairs public, and discreetly{298} careful of his private. A liberal house-keeper, bountiful to the Poor, an upright dealer in the world, and a devout inquirer after the world to come.... Intravit ut exiret."

The increase of trade had another side. It was accompanied by protection, with the usual results. "In the old days," says Harrison, "when strange bottoms were suffered to come in, we had sugar for fourpence the pound that now is worth half a crown; raisins and currants for a pennie that now are holden at sixpence, and sometimes at eightpence and tenpence, the pound; nutmegs at twopence halfpenny the ounce; ginger at a pennie the ounce; prunes at a halfpenny farthing; great raisins, three pound for a pennie; cinnamon at fourpence the ounce; cloves at twopence; and pepper at twelve or sixteen pence the pound." He does not state the increase in price of the latter articles; but if we are to judge by that of sugar, the increase of trade was not an unmixed blessing to those whose incomes had not advanced with equal step.

The city associated the new prosperity with their Maiden Queen, for whom their love and loyalty never abated in the least. When she asked them for a certain number of ships they sent double the number, fully manned and provided; when the Queen's enemy, Mary of Scotland, was beheaded, they rang their bells and made bonfires; while the Queen was living they thanked God solemnly for her long reign; when she died, their lamentations were loud and sincere; her monument, until the fire, adorned many of the city churches. One of the Elizabeth statues yet remains outside the Church of St. Dunstan's, Fleet Street. It{301} is the statue which formerly stood on the west side of Lud Gate.


To return to Gresham. He not only gave the city a Bourse, but he also endowed it with a college, which should have been a rival of Trinity or Christ Church but for the mismanagement which reduced it for a long time to the level of a lecture institute. The idea of the founder will, no doubt, be revived some time or other, and Gresham College will become a place of learning worthy of the city.

The career of Sir Thomas Gresham strangely resembles that of Whittington. Both were favorites with successive sovereigns. If Gresham built an Exchange, Whittington, by his will, added to Guildhall; if Gresham founded a college for the London youth, Whittington founded a college for priests, and an almshouse; if Gresham restored the finances of his sovereign, Whittington gave back to his the bonds of all his debts. Both were mercers; both merchant adventurers; both kept a shop; both were of good descent.

Gresham's shop was in Lombard Street, at the Sign of the Grasshopper, his family crest. His shop contained gold and silver vessels; coins, ancient and modern; gold chains, gold and silver lace, rings, and jewels. He lent money, as most bankers do, on security, but he got 10 and 12 per cent. for it. He had correspondents abroad, and he gave travellers letters of credit; he bought foreign coin either to exchange or to melt down. And he lived in his own house, over his shop, until he was knighted, when he built a new house between Bishopsgate Street and Broad Street. Stow calls it "the most spacious of all thereabout;{302} builded of brick and timber." This house became afterwards Gresham College.


Again, this was a great age for the foundation of grammar-schools. The education of London in the Middle Ages is a subject which has never yet been adequately treated. We know very well what was taught at the universities. But what did the merchant learn, the shopkeeper, the craftsman? To what school was the boy sent before he was apprenticed? There was a school, it is said, to every religious house. I think that latterly the monastic school was kept up with about as much sincerity as the monastic rule of poverty. Stow certainly says that when Henry V. dissolved the alien priories, their schools perished as{303} well. On the other hand, consider the great number of religious houses in and around London. There should have been schools enough for the whole population. Yet Henry VI. founded four grammar-schools "besides St. Paul's," viz., at St. Martin's le Grand, St. Mary le Bow, St. Dunstan's in the west, and St. Anthony's. Why did he do this if there were already plenty of schools? And observe that one of his foundations was at a religious house—St. Martin's. The year after he created four more schools—at St. Anthony's (Holborn), All Hallows the Great, St. Peter's (Cornhill), and St. Thomas of Acon. All these schools perished in the Reformation, with the exception of St. Paul's and St. Anthony's. Why they perished, unless they were endowed with property belonging to some monastic house, is not clear.

For a time the city had no schools, no hospitals, no foundations for the poor, the sick, or the aged. These grievous losses were speedily amended. St. Paul's was presently newly founded by Dean Colet. The Blue-Coat School arose on the ruins of the Grey Friars. The Mercers' Company continued the School of St. Thomas as their own, and it still exists. The Merchant Taylors founded their school, which is now at the Charterhouse. At St. Olave's and St. Saviour's schools were established. A few years later was founded the Charterhouse School, which is now removed to Godalming.

In these narrow limits it is impossible to reproduce much of the Elizabethan daily life. Here, however, are certain details.

The ordering of the household was strict. Servants and apprentices were up at six in the summer and at{304} seven in the winter. No one, on any pretence, except that of illness, was to absent himself from morning and evening prayers; there was to be no striking, no profane language. Sunday was clean-shirt day. Dinner was at eleven, supper at six. There was no public or private office which was not provided with a Bible. In the better classes there was a general enthusiasm for learning of all kinds. The ladies, imitating the example of the Queen, practised embroidery, wrote beautifully, played curious instruments, knew how to sing in parts, dressed with as much magnificence as they could afford, danced corantoes and lavoltas as well as the simple hey, and studied languages—Latin, Greek, and Italian. The last was the favorite language. Many collected books. Dr. John Dee had as many as four thousand, of which one thousand were manuscripts. They were arranged on the shelves with the leaves turned outward, not the backs. This was to show the gilding, the gold clasps, and the silken strings. The books were bound with great care and cost; everybody knows the beauty of the type used in the printing.

Tournaments were maintained until the end of Elizabeth's reign. But we hear little of them, and it is not likely that they retained much of their old popularity. One Sir Henry Lee entered the tilt-yard every year until age prevented him. They always kept up the sport of tilting at the Quintain in the water. But their favorite amusements were the pageant and the play. The pageant came before the play; and while the latter was performed on a rough scaffold, in an inn-yard, the former was provided with splendid dresses, music, songs, and properties of every{305} kind. There were pageants for the reception of the King when he made a procession into the City; there were court pageants; there were private pageants in great men's houses; there were pageants got up by companies. The reception pageants, for instance, are very well illustrated by that invented for Queen Elizabeth on her visit to the city in the year 1558.

It was in January, but I think people felt cold weather less in those days. The Queen came by water, attended by the city barges, which were trimmed with targets and banners of their mysteries, from Westminster to the Tower, where she lay for two days. She then rode through the City, starting at two in the afternoon, when everybody had had dinner.

In Fenchurch Street there was a scaffold, where was a band of music, and a child who presented the Queen with a poetical address.

At the upper end of Gracechurch Street a noble arch had been erected, with a triple stage. On the lowest stood two children, representing Henry VII. and Elizabeth of York; on the second, two more, for Henry VIII. and Anne Boleyn; and on the third, Queen Elizabeth herself. Music and a poetical address.


At Cornhill there was another pageant, representing the Queen placed on a seat supported by four figures,{306} viz., Religion, Wisdom, Justice, and Love, each of which was treading under foot the opposite vice. Music and a poetical address.

At the entrance of Cheapside a third pageant represented the eight beatitudes.

At the Conduit a fourth pageant displayed two mountains; one, ragged and stony, with a withered tree, under which sat one in homely garb; over her head was a tablet with the legend, "Respublica ruinosa." The other hill was fair and green, with a flourishing tree, and the words, "Respublica bene instituta." Between the hills was a cave, out of which issued Time, with his wings, scythe, and forelock quite complete, leading a maiden in white silk, on whose head was written Temporis Filia, and on her breast Veritas. This fair damsel held a Bible in her hand, which she let down by a silken thread to the Queen.

At the Conduit in Fleet Street they had erected a stage with four towers, on which was a throne under a palm-tree. On the throne sat Deborah, "Judge and Restorer of the House of Israel." On the steps of the throne stood six personages, two of them representing the nobility, two the clergy, and two the commons. At Temple Bar they had two giants, Gogmagog and Albion, and Corineus, the Briton. On the south side was a "noise" of singing children, one of whom, attired as a poet, bade the Queen farewell in the name of the City.

The court pageants may be understood by reading the masques of Ben Jonson. Everything costly, splendid, and precious was lavished upon these shows. Everything that machinery could contrive was devised{307} for them. Ben Jonson himself, speaking of the performance of his "Hymenæa," says: "Such was the exquisite performance, as, besides the pomp, splendor, or what we may call apparelling of such presentments, that alone, had all else been absent, was of power to surprise with delight, and steal away the spectators from themselves. Nor was there wanting whatsoever might give to the furniture or complement, either in riches, or strangeness of the habits, delicacy of dances, magnificence of the scene, or divine rapture of musick. Only the envy was that it lasted not still."

It was not until 1570 that the first theatre was built. The popularity of the play had already begun to grow with amazing rapidity. In twenty years there were five theatres, with performances every day. The Queen had four companies of children trained to perform, viz., the children of St. Paul's, the children of the chapel, the children of Westminster, and the children of Windsor. The public actors, too, were often called upon to perform before the Queen.

These companies were: Lord Leicester's company, Sir Robert Lane's, Lord Clinton's, Lord Warwick's, the Lord Chamberlain's, the Earl of Sussex's, Lord Howard's, the Earl of Essex's, Lord Strange's, the Earl of Derby's, the Lord Admiral's, the Earl of Hertford's, and Lord Pembroke's. It is not supposed that all these companies existed at the same time; but the list shows how company after company was begun and maintained on the credit of some great lord.

The theatres at the end of the sixteenth century were seven in number—the Globe, at Bankside; the Red Bull, in St. John Street; the Curtain, in Shoreditch;{308} the Fortune, in Whitecross Street. These four were public theatres. The other three were called private houses—the Blackfriars, the Whitefriars, and the Cockpit or Phœnix Theatre. In the next chapter we shall assist at a matinee of one of Shakespeare's plays.

But the people lost no opportunity of "making up," acting, and dancing. The pageant became more and more a play. There were pageants of more or less splendor—we all know the great pageants of Kenilworth—held in every great man's house, in every company's hall, and in private persons' houses, to mark every possible occasion. Thus, in the year 1562, on July 20, took place the marriage of one Coke, citizen (but of what company I know not)—was he a cousin of Edward Coke, afterwards Speaker?—with the daughter of Mr. Nicolls, master of London Bridge. My Lord Mayor and all the Aldermen, with many ladies and other worshipful men and women, were present at the wedding. Mr. Bacon, an eminent divine, preached the wedding sermon. After the discourse the company went home to the Bridge House to dinner, where was as good cheer as ever was known—Stow says so, and he knew very well—with all manner of music and dancing, and at night a masque till midnight. But this was only half the feast, for next day the wedding was again kept at the Bridge House with great cheer. After supper more mumming, after that more masques. One was in cloth of gold, the next consisted of friars, and the third of nuns. First the friars and the nuns danced separately, one company after the other, and then they danced together. Considering that it was only two years since the friars{309} and the nuns had been finally suppressed, there must have been a certain piquancy in this dance. It is always, at such times, put on the stage. One of the first things, for instance, done in Madrid when Spain got her short-lived republic was that in every café chantant they put a friar and a nun on the stage to dance and sing together.

They still kept the saint's day of their company; in fact, when the old faith was suppressed the people willingly endured a change of doctrine so long as they were not called upon to give up their feasting, which was exactly what had happened in Italy and elsewhere when the people were induced or forced to become Christians. They made no objection to doctrine, provided their practice was not interfered with. Therefore the Protestant citizens kept up their Whitsun ales, their wakes, their Easter and Christmas feastings. All the saints' days which brought something better than ordinary to eat, with morris dances, May-poles, bonfires, music, and Feasts of Misrule were religiously conserved. As to the Feast of Misrule, hear the testimony of the contemporary moralist:

"Thus all things set in order, then have they their hobby-horses, their dragons, and other antiques, together with their pipers and thundering drummers, to strike up the Devil's Dance. Thus march this merry company towards the church and church-yard, their pipers piping, their drummers thundering, their stumpes dancing, their bells jingling, their handkerchiefs fluttering about their heads like madmen, their hobby-horses and other monsters skirmishing among the throng, and in this sort they go to the church like devils incarnate, with such a confused noise that no{310} man can hear his own voice. Then the foolish people—they look, they stare, they laugh, they cheer, they mount upon forms and pews to see the goodly pageants solemnized in this sort. Then, after this, about the church they go again and again, and so forth into the church-yard, where they have commonly their summer halls, their bowers, arbors, and banqueting-houses set up, wherein they feast, banquet, and dance all that day, and, peradventure, all that night too."

To keep a troop of servants has always been a mark of state. Ladies used to beat their servants—following the example of the Queen, who sometimes boxed the ears of her courtiers. Everybody of position travelled, and nearly everybody went to Italy, with results disastrous to religion and to morals. One of the worst figures in the Elizabethan gallery is the Englishman Italianized. Of course on his return the traveller gave himself strange airs. How they travelled and what they saw may be read in that most charming book, the Epistolæ Hoellianæ.

Card-playing and gaming were the commonest form of amusement. The games were primero, which Falstaff foreswore, trump, gleek, gresco, new cut, knave out-of-doors, ruff, noddy, post and pace—all of these games corresponding, no doubt, to those still played.

Another favorite amusement was dancing in all its various forms, from the stately court dance to the merry circle on the village green. The principal dances were the solemn pavane, the brawl, the Passamezzo galliard, the Canary dance, the coranto, the lavolta, the jig, the galliard, the fancy, and the hey.

Gentlemen were followed in the streets by their servants, who carried their master's sword. Their{311} dress was blue, with the master's badge in silver on the left arm.

The pages of Stow, Harrison, Hall, Greene, and Nash contain not only glimpses, but also set pictures of the time, from which extracts by the hundred might be made. There are the awful examples, for instance, of Sir John Champneys, Alderman and Lord Mayor, and Richard Wethell, citizen and tailor. Both these persons built high towers to their houses to show their pride and to look down upon their neighbors—one is reminded of the huge leaning towers in Bologna. What happened? The first went blind, so that though he might climb his tower he could see nothing. The second was afflicted with gout in hands and feet, so that he could not walk, much less climb his tower. Stubbes has other instances of judgments, particularly the terrible fate of the girl who invoked the devil to help her with her ruff.

Here is a curious little story. It happened in the reign of King James. One day, in Bishopsgate Ward, a poor man, named Richard Atkinson, going to remove a heap of sea-coal ashes in his wheelbarrow, discovered lying in the ashes the body of a newly-born child. It was still breathing, and he carried it to his wife, who washed and fed it and restored it to life. The child was a goodly and well-formed boy, strong and well-featured, without blemish or harm upon it. They christened the child at St. Helen's Church, by a name which should cause him to remember, all through his life, his very remarkable origin. They called him, in fact, Job Cinere Extractus. A noble name, for the sake of which alone he should have lived. What an ancestor to have had! How delightful to be a Cinere{312} Extractus! Who would not wish to belong to such a family, and to point to the ash-heap as the origin of the first Cinere Extractus? Nothing like it in history since the creation of Adam himself. What a coat of arms! A shield azure, an ash-heap proper, with supporters of two dustmen with shovels; crest a sieve; motto, like that of the Courtenays, "from what heights descended?" But alas! poor little Job Cinere Extractus died three days afterwards, and now lies buried in St. Helen's church-yard, without even a monument.

Another baby story—but this belongs to Charles I.'s time—it happened, in fact, in the last month of that melancholy reign. It was seven o'clock in the evening. A certain ship-chandler became suddenly so foolish as to busy himself over a barrel of gunpowder with a candle. Naturally a spark fell into the barrel, and he was not even left time enough to express his regrets. Fifty houses were wrecked. How many were killed no one could tell, but at the next house but one, the Rose Tavern, there was a great company holding the parish dinner, and they all perished. Next morning, however, there was found on the leads of All Hallows Barking a young child in a cradle as newly laid in bed, neither child nor cradle having sustained the least harm. It was never known who the child was, but she was adopted by a gentleman of the parish, and lived certainly to the age of seventeen, when the historian saw her going to call her master, who was drinking at a tavern. It is two hundred and fifty years ago. That young woman may have at this moment over a thousand descendants at least. Who would not like to boast that she was his great-grandmother?{313}

A reform of vast importance, though at first it seems a small thing, was introduced in this reign. It was the restoration of vegetables and roots as part of daily diet. Harrison is my authority. He says that in old days—as in the time of the First Edward—herbs, fruits, and roots were much used, but that from Henry IV. to Henry VIII. the use of them decayed and was forgotten. "Now," he says, "in my time their use is not only resumed among the poore commons—I mean of melons, pompines, gourds, cucumbers, radishes, skirrets, parsneps, carrots, marrowes, turnips, and all kinds of salad herbes—but they are also looked upon as deintie dishes at the tables of delicate merchants, gentlemen, and the nobilitie, who make their provision yearly for new seeds out of strange countries from whence they have them abundantly."

Perhaps the cause of the disuse of roots and vegetables was the enormous rise in wages after the Black Death, when the working-classes, becoming suddenly rich, naturally associated roots with scarcity of beef, and governed themselves accordingly.

The use of tobacco spread as rapidly, when once it was introduced, as that of coffee later on. King James speaks of those who spend as much as £300 a year upon this noxious weed. Those who took tobacco attributed to it all the virtues possible for any plant to possess, and more.

It was the custom of the better sort of citizens to have gardens outside the City, each with its own garden-house, in some cases a mere arbor, but in others a house for residence in the summer months. Moorfields had many of these gardens, but Bethnal Green,{314} Hoxton (Hoggesden), and Mile End were favorite spots for these retreats. Of course, the city madams were accused of using these gardens as convenient places for intrigue.

The education of girls was never so thorough as at this time. Perhaps Lucy Hutchinson and Lady Jane Grey—well-known cases—ought not to be taken as average examples. The former, for instance, could read at four, and at seven was under eight tutors, who taught her languages, music, dancing, writing, and needle-work. She also became a proficient in the art of preparing simples and medicines. Of her husband she says that he was a masterly player on the viol; that he was a good marksman with gun and bow; and that he was a collector of paintings and engravings. Perhaps there was never a time when body and mind were equally trained and developed as they were in the sixteenth century. Think with what contempt Sidney and Raleigh would regard an age like the present, when the young men are trained to foot-ball, running, and cricket, but, for the most part, cannot ride, cannot shoot, cannot fence, cannot box, cannot wrestle, cannot sing, cannot play any instrument, cannot dance, and cannot make verses!


In the matter of rogues, vagabonds, and common cheats, the age of Elizabeth shows no falling off, but quite the reverse. We have little precise information on English ribauderie before this time, but now, thanks to John Awdely, Thomas Harman, Parson Hybesdrine, Thomas Dekker, Robert Greene, and others, we learn the whole art and mystery of coney-catching as practised under the Tudor dynasty. The rogues had their own language. No doubt they always had their language,{315} as they have it now; and it varied from year to year as it varies now, but the groundwork remained the same, and, indeed, remains the same to this day. The rogues and thieves, the beggars and the impostors, are still with us. They are still accompanied by their autem morts, their walking morts, their Kynchen morts, their doxies, and their dolls, only some of those cheats are changed with the changes of the time. Under Queen Gloriana they abound in every town and in every street, they tramp along all the roads, they haunt the farm-houses, they rob the market-women and the old men. They have their ranks and their precedency. The Upright man is a captain among them; the Curtall has authority over them; the Patriarch Co-marries them until death do them part—that is to say, until they pass a carcass of any creature, when, if they choose, they shake hands and go separate ways. They are well known by profession and name at every fair throughout the country. They are Great John Gray and Little John Gray; John Stradling with the shaking head; Lawrence with the great leg; Henry Smyth, who drawls when he speaks; that fine old gentleman, Richard Horwood, who is eighty years of age and can still bite a sixpenny nail asunder with his teeth, and a notable toper still; Will Pellet, who carries the Kynchen{316} mort at his back; John Browne, the stammerer; and the rest of them. They are all known; their backs and shoulders are scored with the nine-tailed cat; not a headborough or a constable but knows them every one. Yet they forget their prison and their whipping as soon as they are free. Those things are the little drawbacks of the profession, against which must be set freedom, no work, no masters, and no duties. Who would not go upon the budge, even though at the end there stands the three trees, up which we shall have to climb by the ladder?

The Budge it is a delicate trade,
And a delicate trade of fame;
For when that we have bit the bloe,
We carry away the game.
But when that we come to Tyburn
For going upon the Budge,
There stands Jack Catch the hangman,
That owes us all a grudge.
And when that he hath noosed us,
And our friends tip him no cole;
O then he throws us into the cart,
And tumbles us in the hole.

In the streets of London they separate and practise each in the quarter most likely to catch the gull. For instance, observe this well-dressed young gentleman, with the simple manner and the honest face, strolling along the middle-walk of Paul's. Simple as he looks, his eye glances here and there among the throng. Presently he sees a young countryman, whom he knows by the unfailing signs; he approaches the countryman; he speaks to him; in a few minutes they{317} leave the Cathedral together and betake them to a tavern, where they dine, each paying for himself, in amity and friendship, though strangers but an hour since. Then comes into the tavern an ancient person, somewhat decayed in appearance, who sits down and calls for a stoup of ale. "Now," says the first young man, "you shall see a jest, sir." Whereupon he accosts the old gentleman, and presently proposes to throw the dice for another pot. The old man accepts, being a very simple and childlike old man, and loses—both his money and his temper. Then the countryman joins in.... After the young countryman gets home, he learns that the old man was a "fingerer" by profession, and that the young man was his confidant.

The courtesy man works where the sailors and sea-captains congregate; he accosts one who looks credulous and new; he tells him that he is one of a company, tall, proper men, all like himself—he is well-mannered; they are disbanded soldiers, masterless and moneyless; for himself he would not beg, but for his dear comrades he would do anything. When he receives a shilling he puts it up with an air of contempt, but accepts the donor's good-will, and thanks him for so much. A plausible villain, this.

Outside Aldgate, where the Essex farmers are found, the "ring faller" loves to practise his artless game. Have we not still with us the man who picks up the ring which he is willing to let us have for the tenth of its value? The Elizabethan mariner, who has been shipwrecked and lost his all, has vanished. The Tudor disbanded soldier has vanished, but the army reserve man sells his matches in the street when he cannot find the work he looks for so earnestly; the{318} counterfeit cranker who stood at the corner of the street covered with mud, and his face besmeared with blood, as one who has just had an attack of the falling sickness, is gone, because that kind of sickness is known no longer; the "frater" who carried a forged license to beg for a hospital, is also gone; the abraham man, who pretended to be mad, is gone; the "palliard" or "clapper dodger;" the angler, who stuck a hook in a long pole and helped himself out of the open shops; the "prigger of prancers," a horse thief; the ruffler, the swigman and prigman, are also gone, but their descendants remain with us, zealous in the pursuit of kindred callings, and watched over paternally by a force 38,000 strong—about one policeman for every habitual criminal—so that, since every policeman costs £100 a year, and every criminal steals, eats, or destroys property to the same amount at least, every criminal costs the country, first, the things which he steals—say £100 a year; next, his policeman, another £100; thirdly, the loss of his own industry; and fourthly, the loss of the policeman's industry—making in all about £500 a year. It would be cheaper to lock him up.

In the matter of punishments, we have entered upon a time of greater cruelty than prevailed under the Plantagenets. Men are boiled, and women are burned for poisoning; heretics are still burned—in 1585 one thus suffered for denying the divinity of Christ; ears are nailed to the pillory and sliced off for defamation and seditious words; long and cruel whippings are inflicted—in one case through Westminster and London for forgery; an immense number are hanged every year; the chronicler Macheyn continually{319} sets down such a fact as that on this day twelve were hanged at Tyburn, seven men and five women; mariners were hanged at low water at Wapping, for offences committed at sea; the good old custom of pillory was maintained with zeal; and the parading of backsliders in carts or on horseback was kept up. Thus, one woman for selling fry of fish, unlawful, rode triumphantly through the town with garlands of fish decorating her head and shoulders and the tail of the horse, while one went before beating a brass basin. Another woman was carried round, a distaff in her hand and a blue hood on her head, for a common scold. A man was similarly honored for selling measly pork; and another, riding with his head to the animal's tail, for doing something sinful connected with lamb and veal.

The cruelty of punishments only shows that the administration of the law was weak. In fact, the machinery for enforcing law and repressing crime was growing more and more unequal to the task, as the City grew in numbers and in population. The magistrates sought to deter by the spectacle of suffering. This is a deterrent which only acts beneficially when punishment is certain, or nearly certain. The knowledge that nine criminals will escape for one who is whipped all the way from Charing Cross to Newgate encourages the whole ten to continue. Men are like children: if they are to be kept in the paths of virtue, it is better to watch and prevent them continually than to leave them free and to punish them if they fall. But this great law was not as yet understood.{320}




It was on the morning of June 23, in the year of grace 1603, that I was privileged to behold John Stow himself in the flesh, and to converse with him, and to walk with him through the streets of the city whose history and origin he knew better than any man of his own age or of any time that has followed him. It is common enough for a man to live among posterity, to speak to them and counsel them and comfort them; but for a man to visit his forefathers is a thing of rarer occurrence. At another time the way and manner of slipping backward up the ringing grooves of change may be explained for the benefit of others. For the moment, the important thing is the actual fact.


I found the venerable antiquary in his lodging. He lived—it was the year before he died—with his old wife, a childless pair, in a house over against the Church of St. Andrew Undershaft, in the street called St. Mary Axe. The house itself was modest, containing two rooms on the ground-floor, and one large room, or solar, as it would have been called in olden{321} time, above. There was a garden at the back, and behind the garden stood the ruins of St. Helen's Nunnery, with the grounds and gardens of that once famous house, which had passed into the possession of the Leathersellers' Company. This open space afforded freedom and sweetness for the air, which doubtless conduced to the antiquary's length of days. Outside the door I found, sitting in an arm-chair, Mistress Stow, an ancient dame. She had knitting in her lap, and she was fast asleep, the day being fine and warm, with a hot sun in the heavens, and a soft wind from the south. Without asking her leave, therefore, I passed within, and mounting a steep, narrow stair, found myself in the library and in the presence of John Stow himself. The place was a long room, lofty in the middle, but with sloping sides. It was lit by two dormer windows; neither carpet nor arras, nor hangings of any kind, adorned the room, which was filled, so that it was difficult to turn about in it, with books, papers, parchments, and rolls. They lay piled on the floor; they stood in lines and columns against the walls; they were heaped upon the table; they lay at the right hand of the chair ready for use; they were everywhere. I observed, too, that they were not such books as may be seen in a great man's library, bound after the Italian fashion, with costly leather, gilt letters, golden clasps, and silken strings.{322} Not so. These books were old folios for the most part; the backs were broken; the leaves, where any lay open, were discolored; many of them were in the Gothic black letter. On the table were paper, pens, and ink, and in the straight-backed arm-chair sat the old man himself, pen in hand, laboriously bending over a huge tome from which he was making extracts. He wore a black silk cap; his long white hair fell down upon his shoulders. The casements of the windows stood wide open, and through one of them, which looked to the south, the summer sunshine poured warm and bright upon the old scholar's head, and upon the table at which he sat.

When I entered the room he looked up, rose, and bowed courteously. His figure was tall and spare; his shoulders were rounded by much bending over books; his face was scored with the lines and wrinkles of old age; his eyes were clear and keen; but his aspect was kindly; his speech was soft and gentle.

"Sir," he said, "you are welcome. I had never expected or looked to converse in the flesh, or in the spirit—I know not which this visit may be called—with one from after generations; from our children and grandchildren. May I ask to which generation—"

"I belong to the late nineteenth century."

"It is nearly three hundred years to come. Bones o' me! Ten generations! I take this visit, sir, as an encouragement; even a special mark of favor bestowed upon me by the Lord, to show His servant that his work will not be forgotten."

"Forgotten? Nay, Master Stow, there are not many men of your age whom we would not lose before{323} you are forgotten. Believe me, the Survey by John Stow will last as long as the City itself."

"Truly, sir," the old man replied, "my sole pains and care have ever been to write the truth. It is forty years— Ah, what a man was I at forty! What labors could I then accomplish between uprising and downlying! Forty years, I say, since I wrote the lines:

Of smooth and feathering speech remember to take heed,
For truth in plain words may be told; of craft a lie hath need.

"Of craft," he repeated, "a lie hath need. If the world would consider—well, sir, I am old and my friends are mostly dead, and men, I find, care little for the past wherein was life, but still regard the present and push on towards the future, wherein are death and the grave. And for my poor services the king hath granted letters patent whereby I am licensed to beg. I complain not, though for one who is a London citizen, and the grandson of reputable citizens, to beg one's bread is to be bankrupt, and of bankrupts this city hath great scorn. Yet, I say, I complain not."

"In so long a life," I said, "you must have many memories."

"So many, sir, that they fill my mind. Often, as I sit here, whither cometh no one now to converse about the things of old, my senses are closed to the present, and my thoughts carry me back to the old days. Why"—his eyes looked back as he spoke—"I remember King Harry the Eighth himself, the like of whom for masterfulness this realm hath never seen. Who but a strong man could by his own will overthrow—yea,{324} and tear up by the very foundations—the religion which seemed made to endure forever? Sure I am that when I was a boy there was no thought of any change. I remember when in the streets every second man was priest or monk. The latter still wore his habit—grey, white, or black. But you could not tell the priest from the layman, for the priests were so proud that they went clothed in silks and furs; yea, and of bright colors like any court gallant; their shoes spiked; their hair crisped; their girdles armed with silver; and in like manner their bridles and their spurs; their caps laced and buttoned with gold. Now our clergy go in sober attire, so that the gravity of their calling is always made manifest to their own and others' eyes by the mere color of their dress. I remember, being then a youth, how the Houses were dissolved and the monks turned out. All were swept away. There was not even left so much as an hospital for the sick; even the blind men of Elsing's were sent adrift, and the lepers from the Lazar house, and the old priests from the Papey. There was no help for the poor in those days, and folk murmured, but below breath, and would fain, but dared not say so, have seen the old religion again. The king gave the houses to his friends. Lord Cromwell got Austin Friars, where my father, citizen and tallow-chandler, had his house. Nay, so greedy of land was my lord that he set back my father's wall, and so robbed him of his garden, and there was no redress, because he was too strong."

He got up and walked about the room, talking as he paced the narrow limits. He talked garrulously, as if it pleased him to talk about the past. "When{325} we came presently to study Holy Scripture," he said, "where there is an example or a warning for everything, we read the history of Ahab and of Naboth's vineyard; and for my own part I could never avoid comparing my Lord Cromwell with Ahab, and the vineyard with my father's garden, though Naboth had never to pay rent for the vineyard which was taken from him as my father had. The end of my Lord Cromwell was sudden and violent, like the end of King Ahab."

"You belong to an old city family, Master Stow?" I asked.


"Sir, my forefathers for five generations—at least, my memory goes not farther back—are all buried in the little green church-yard behind St. Michael's Cornhill. My grandfather, citizen and tallow-chandler, died when I was yet of tender years. This have I always regretted, because he might have told me many curious things concerning the City in the time of Edward the Fourth. The penance of Jane Shore he would surely remember. Nay, he may even have known that unfortunate lady, wife of a reputable citizen. Yet have I in my youth conversed with old men and learned much from them. My grandfather, by his last will, thought it no superstition to leave money for watching-candles. I was once taken to the church to see them burning, and there I remember I saw a poor woman who received every Sunday, for a year, one penny for saying five pater-nosters for the good of his soul. Thus she lived, poor wretch, wasting her breath in fruitless labor. I marvel to think what has become of all those who lived by the altar in the old days. The priests of the churches and the{326} chantries, the chaplains of the fraternities, the singing-men, the petty canons, the sextons, singers, sayers of pater-nosters, sellers of crosses and beads and chaplets and wax tapers, the monks and the nuns with all their officers and servants—there were many thousands in this city alone—what became of them? How get they now a livelihood? Tell me that. As for me, I have been hauled before the courts on a charge of Papistry. Bones o' me! All my crime was the reading of old books, yet do I remember the evil days of King Edward's time, when the Reformation was new, and{327} people's minds were troubled, and all things seemed turning to destruction, so that many welcomed back the old religion when Mary came, yet when she died there was found none to mourn for its banishment. Sir, the old are apt to praise the past, but from one who has lived through the glorious reign of Queen Elizabeth shall you hear nothing but praise of the present. Consider"—he arose and walked to the open window and looked out—"this fine town of London, like the realm itself, was devoured by the priests and monks. It is now freed from those locusts. The land that belonged to the Church could not be sold, so that those who lived upon it were always tenants and servants. That land is now free. Learning, which before was on sufferance, is now free. Nay, there hath been so great a zeal for learning—such an exemplar was Her Highness the Queen—that noble ladies, as well as gentlemen, have become skilled in Latin, Greek, Italian, and even in Hebrew. The trade of the City hath doubled and trebled. Thanks to the wisdom of our merchants and their courage, London doth now surpass Antwerp. The Spaniard, who vainly thought to rule the world, is humbled, and by us. The French, who would strike at England through Scotland, have lost their power. Our ships sail round the world; our merchants trade with India in the east and with America in the west: our trading companies cover all the seas. What does it matter that I am old and poor and licensed to beg my bread—and that in a city which hath ever scorned poverty—what does it matter, I say, so that one has lived through this most happy reign and seen this city increase, year by year, in wealth and greatness? Who am I{328} that I should murmur? I have had my prayer. The Lord hath graciously made me the historian of the City. My work will be a monument. What more can a man want than to have the desire of his heart?" His voice trembled. He stood in the sunshine, which wrapped him as with a glory. Then he turned to me.

"Sir," said he, "you are here—whether in the flesh or the spirit I know not. Come with me. Let me show you my city and my people. In three hundred years there will be many changes and the sweeping away of many old landmarks, I doubt not. There must be many changes in customs and usages and in fashions of manners and of dress. Come with me. You shall behold my present—and your past."

He put on his cloak—a shabby cloak it was, and too short for his tall figure—and led the way down the narrow stairs into the street. He stepped out of the house, and looked up and down the street, sniffing the air with the greatest satisfaction, as if it had been laden with the perfumes of Araby the Blest instead of the smell of a glue-making shop hard by.

Taken down in 1793

"Ha!" he said, "the air of London is wholesome. We have had no plague since the sweating sickness, fifty years ago." (There was to be another the year after, but this he could not know, and it was not for me to tell him.) "Yet at Iseldon, hard by, fevers are again very prevalent, and the falling sickness is reported from Westminster. This, sir, is the street of St. Mary Axe. It is not one of our great streets, yet many worshipful men live here. Opposite is the house of one who is worth £4000—aye, £4000 at least; not a Gresham or a Staple, yet a man of substance." The house was four stories high, the front of brick and{331} timber, the windows filled above and below with rich carvings, and having a high gable. "The wealth of private citizens hath lately much increased. In my youth there were few such houses; now there are a dozen where formerly there was but one. If you go into that house, sir, you will find the table plentiful and the wine good; you will see arras hanging in every chamber, or a painted cloth with proverbs at least; sweet herbs or flowers are strewn in every room; the house is warmed with fires; the sideboards are loaded with plate or are bright with Murano glass. There are coffers of ivory and wood to hold the good man's treasure; and in an upper chamber you shall see hanging up the cloaks and doublets, the gowns and petticoats, of this worthy and worshipful merchant and his family, in silk and velvet, precious and costly. Fifty years ago there would have been none of these things, but treen platters; of arras none; and but one poor silver mazer for all his plate. But we are not ashamed to see the tenements of the craftsmen side by side with the great houses of the rich. For we are all brothers in this city; one family are we, rich and poor together; we are united in our companies and in our work; our prentices are taught their trade; to our maids we give marriage portions; we suffer no stranger among us; our sick and aged are kept from want and suffering."

"But you have great Lords and noblemen among you. Surely they are not of your family."

"Sir, the time was when it was a happy circumstance for the City to have the nobles within her walls. That time is past. They are fast leaving our bounds. One or two alone remain, and we shall not{332} lament their departure. There is no longer any danger that the City will be separate in feeling from the country, and it is true that the rufflers who follow in a noble lord's train are ever ready to turn a silly girl's head or to lead a prentice into dissolute ways. In this street there were once no fewer than three parish churches. Yonder ruin at the north end was St. Augustine on the Wall: here of old times was the house of the old and sick priests, called the Papey. King Henry turned them out, and who took in the poor old men I know not. 'Twas a troubled time. Yonder was the church—its church-yard yet remaining—of St. Mary Axe, dedicated not only to the Virgin whom now we have ceased to worship, yet still reverence, but also to St. Ursula, whom we regard no more, and to the Eleven Thousand Virgins, at whose pretended miracle we scoff. And opposite is the goodly church of St. Andrew Undershaft. Of churches we have fewer than of old. As for piety, truly I see no difference, for some will always be pious, and some prodigal and profligate. I remember," he went on, gazing, as was his wont, at the church as if he loved the very stones—"I remember the May-pole when it hung upon hooks along the south wall of the church. I never saw it erected, because Evil May-day, before I was born, when the prentices rose against the aliens, was the last time that it was put up. It was destroyed in King Edward's time, when one Sir Stephen, curate of Katherine Cree, preached at Paul's Cross that the May-pole was an idol. So the people brought axes and cut it up—the goodliest May-pole that the world has ever seen, and taller than the steeple of the church. The same Sir Stephen wanted to change{333} the names of the churches, and the names of the week-days, and the time of Lent, all for the sake of idolatry. And the same Sir Stephen caused the death of the most honest man that ever lived, for alleged seditious words. Well—'tis fifty years ago."

With this reminiscence we passed through Leadenhall, and into a broad and open place. "Now," said Stow, "we are in the very heart of the City. Here hath been, for time out of mind, a corn-market. And here are pillory and stocks, but," said Stow, "this pillory is for false dealing only. The greater pillory is in Cheapside. Here we have the Tun prison"—in shape the building somewhat resembled a tun—"for street offenders and the like. It has been a city prison for three hundred years and more. Beside it is the conduit. Here are two churches: St. Peter's, which falsely pretends to be the most ancient of any in the City, and St. Michael's. But the chief glory of Cornhill is the Royal Exchange. Let us look in."

The entrance and principal front of the Royal Exchange were on the south side. We looked in. The place was crowded with merchants, grave and sober men, walking within in pairs, or gathered in little groups. Among them were foreigners from Germany, France, Venice, Genoa, Antwerp, and even Russia, conspicuous by their dress. "Before the building of this place," said Stow, "our merchants had no place to meet, and were forced to seek out each other; nor was there any place where the latest news might be brought, however much the interest of the City might be affected. Now all is changed, and every morning our worshipful merchants meet to hear the news, and to discuss their business. Come, we must not linger,{334} for we have much to see; else there would be many things to tell. Believe me, sir, I could discourse all day long upon the trade of London and yet not make an end."

He led me past the Royal Exchange, past two churches, one on the north side and one on the south, into a broad and open street, which I knew must be Cheapside.

"Here," said he, "is the beauty of London. This, good Sir, is Chepe."

The street was at least double the width of its modern successor. The houses, which were the fairest, taken all together, in the whole of the City, were nearly all five stories high, each story projecting above the one below, with high-pitched gable facing the street. The fronts were of brick and timber, and some of them were curiously and richly carved. In some the third story was provided with a balcony shaded from the sun. The ground-floor contained the shop, protected by a prentice. A sign hung in front of every house. In the middle was Queen Eleanor's cross, the figure of the Virgin and Holy Infant defaced by zealous Protestants. Near the cross was the conduit. The shops on the south side were of grocers, haberdashers, and upholsterers. Farther west the goldsmiths stood together, and then the mercers. The street was filled with people, some riding, some walking. There were gallants, followed by servants carrying their swords; there were grave city merchants and fine city madams; there were working-men and craftsmen; there were the prentices, too, in every shop, bawling their wares.


"When I was a prentice," said Stow, "the boys{337} were made to wear blue cloaks in summer and blue gowns in winter, with breeches and stockings of white broadcloth, and flat caps. They attended their master at night with a lantern and clubs, and they fetched the water in the morning, unless they were mercers, who were excused. But all good manners are changed. Now they dress as they please, and except that they carry the club and break each other's pates withal, they are no longer like the old prentice. Also, formerly £10 would suffice to bind a lad and make him free of the City; now £100 is wanted. Well, sir, here you have Chepe. Rich it is with goodly houses and its ancient churches; I say not stately churches, because our forefathers loved better to beautify the religious houses than their parish churches—yet many goodly monuments are erected in them to the memories of dead worthies. Much of the carved work and the painting has been destroyed or defaced by the zeal of reformers, who have broken the painted windows so that false doctrine should no longer be preached by those dumb orators. Truly, when I think upon the churches as they were, with all their monuments and chapels and holy roods, carved and beautified by the cunning of the sculptor and limner, and look upon them as they are, hacked and hewn, I am fain to weep for sorrow. Yet, again, when I remember the swarms of monks and priests from whom we are set free, and our holy martyrs who perished in the flames, I confess that the destruction was needful." He stepped aside to make room for a gentlewoman who walked proudly along the street, followed by a servant.

"Aye," he murmured, "thy husband is a respectable merchant on 'Change; his father before him, citizen{338} and armorer, also respected. But his profits will not long suffice to meet thine extravagance, my fine city madam."

She was of the middle height, and about thirty years of age; her hair was a bright red. "A week ago it was brown," said my guide. It was knotted and raised above her forehead; on her head she wore a hood of muslin, under which one could see gold threads in her hair, and open peascods with pearls for peas; her face was smeared all over with paint; a heavy gold chain hung round her neck; her ruff was of enormous size, and her waist was extravagantly long; her gown was of rich velvet, looped back to show her petticoat of flowered satin; she had a lovelock under her left ear, tied with a freshly-cut rose; she was so stuffed out with hoops that she covered as much space as six women; in one hand she carried a fan, and in the other a pomander-box, at which she sniffed perpetually.

"She moves like a painted galley," said Stow. "No barge on the river finer to look at. All the argosies of the East would be swallowed up by such a woman. 'Give, give,' say the daughters of the horse-leech. Sir, the Lord made the female less comely than her mate; witness the peahen and the pullet in their russet garb compared with the splendor of their male. This, I take it, is the reason why women continually seek by some new fashion or device to remove the inequality, and, if possible, to overtop their lords as well as each other. As for me, I have always loved a maid in her simplicity, her hair falling in curls about her lovely face, and her shape visible instead of hidden under ruffs and hoops. But, alas! what hath a man of eighty to do with maidens?" he sighed.{339}

"Yonder," he went on, "is the chief pillory, the whipping-place of the City. Chepe is not only a place of trade and fine clothes. Here have I seen many things done that would be cruel but for the common weal. Once I saw a comely maiden lose her ears and have her forehead branded for trying to poison her mistress. Once I saw a school-master flogged for cruelly beating a boy. It was rare to see the boys shouting and clapping their hands as the poor wretch screamed. Some have I seen pilloried for cheating, some for seditious words, some for disorder. Pillory is a potent physician. The mere sight of these round holes and that post doth act like a medicine upon old and young. It is in Smithfield, not in Chepe, that we chiefly hold our executions. Men and women have been burned there for other things besides heresy: for poisoning, for false coining, for murdering. Many are hanged every year in that ruffians' field. But to-day we shall not see executions. Let us talk of more mirthful things. And see, here comes a wedding-train!"

The music came first, a noise of crowds and clarions playing merrily. Next came damsels bearing bride-cakes and gilded loaves. After them a young man carried the silver bride-cup, filled with hippocras and garnished with rosemary, which stands for constancy. Then came the bride herself, a very beauteous lady, dressed all in white, decorated with long chains of gold, pearls, and precious stones. On her head was a white lace cap. She was led by two boys in green and gold. After her walked her parents and other members of the family.

"Ha!" he said, "there will be rare feasting to-day,{340} with masks and mumming and dancing. We marry but once in our lives. 'Twere pity if we could not once rejoice. Yet there are some who would turn every feast into a fast, and make even a wedding the occasion for a sermon. See! after a wedding a funeral. I am glad the bride met not this. 'Tis bad luck for a bride to meet a burying."

Then there came slowly marching down the street, while the people stepped aside and took off their hats, a funeral procession.

"Who hath died?" asked Stow. "This it is to be old and to live retired. I have not heard. Yet, considering the length of the procession, one would say a prince in Israel. Neighbor," he asked a by-stander, "whose funeral is this? Ha! So he is dead! A worthy man; a knight, once sheriff, citizen, and mercer. You will see, my friend, that we still know how to mourn our dead worthies, though we lack the singing clerks and priests who formerly went first, chanting all the way."

The procession drew nearer. "Now," he said, "I take it that you will not know the order of the march, wherefore I will interpret. First, therefore, walk the children of Christ's Hospital, two by two; he was, therefore, a benefactor or governor of the school. Then follow the yeomen conductors, two by two, in black coats, with black staves. The poor men of the parish, two by two; then the poor women in like order; the choir of the church; and the preacher—he has crape over his cassock. Then a gentleman in hood and gown bearing the standard. Next three gentlewomen in black gowns; there are the aldermen in violet. Those two grave persons are the executors{341} of the deceased. There is the pennon borne by a gentleman in hood and gown; the helm and crest borne by a pursuivant; the coat of arms borne by a herald, Clarence, King at Arms."


After this long procession came the coffin itself, borne by six yeomen in black coats; it was covered with a black velvet pall. On either side walked two gentlemen in hoods and gowns, carrying pennons. One of them bore the arms of the deceased, a gentleman of good family; one bore the arms of the City; one those of the Mercer's Company; and one those of the Merchant Adventurers.

Then came the rest of the procession, and my guide began again: "There follows the chief mourner, the eldest son of the deceased; then four other mourners,{342} two by two; then the Chamberlain and Town Clerk of the City; the Sword-bearer; the Lord Mayor in black; the Alderman having no blacks." I confess that I understood not the distinction, or what followed. "The estates of women having blacks; Aldermen's wives having no blacks; the city companies represented by their wardens and clerks; the masters of the hospitals having green staves." I could have asked why they chose this color, but had no time. "Lastly, the neighbors and parishioners carrying evergreens, bay, and rosemary."

So it was finished. A procession wellnigh a quarter of a mile in length.

"Since we must all die," said Master Stow, "it must be a singular comfort to the rich and those in high place to think that they will be borne to their graves in such state and pomp, with, doubtless, a goodly monument in the church to perpetuate their memory. As for me, I am poor and of no account, only a beggar licensed by grace of his Majesty the King. My parish church hath a fine pall which it will lend me to cover my coffin. Four men will carry me across the street and will lower me into my grave. And so we end."

"Not so an end, good Master Stow," I said. "This city Knight—his name I did not catch—shall be forgotten before the present generation passes away, even though they erect a monument to his memory; but thy achievements will be remembered as long as London Town shall continue. I see already the monument that shall be raised to thy memory, in addition to the book which will never die."

"Amen. So be it," he replied. "Come, you have{343} seen the merchants in the Royal Exchange, and you have seen the shops of Chepe. We will now, before the hour of dinner, visit Paul's Church-yard and Paul's Walk."

At the western end of Cheapside was the Church of St. Michael le Quern, a small building sixty feet long, with a square tower fifty feet high, and a clock on the south face. At the back of the church was the little conduit. The houses north and south were here exactly alike, uniform in size and construction. On the south side a broad archway, with a single room above, and a gabled roof, opened into Paul's Church-yard. "There are six gates," said Stow, "round the church-yard. This is called Paul's Gate, or, by some, the Little Gate."

The area included was crowded with buildings and planted with trees. On the north side were many shops of stationers, each with its sign—the White Greyhound, the Flower de Luce, the Angel, the Spread Eagle, and others. In the middle rose the church towering high, its venerable stones black with age and the smoke of London.

"The place is much despoiled," said the antiquary, "since the days of the old religion. Many things have been taken down which formerly beautified the church-yard. For instance, on this very spot, covered now with dwelling-houses and shops, was the Charnel Chapel, as old as King Edward the First. It was a chapel of the Blessed Virgin. Sir Richard Whittington endowed it with a chaplain. There were two brotherhoods; its crypt was filled with bones; the chapel was filled with monuments. One would have thought that reverence for the bones would have sufficed{344} to preserve the chapel. But no. It was in the reign of Edward the Sixth, when everything was destroyed. The Duke of Somerset pulled down the chapel. The bones he caused to be placed in carts—they made a thousand loads—and to be carried to Finsbury Fields, where they were thrown out and strewn around—a pitiful spectacle. Beside the Charnel Chapel was the Chapel of the Holy Ghost, served by the seven chaplains of Holme's College, on the south side of the church-yard. That, too, was destroyed. But most of all I lament the destruction of the Pardon Church-yard. Truly this was one of the wonders of London. There stands the plot of ground, a garden now for the minor canons, but formerly a cloister wherein were buried many persons of worship, and some of honor, whose monuments were of curious workmanship. Round the cloister was painted a dance of death, commonly called the Dance of Paul's, with verses by John Lydgate, done at the dispense of John Carpenter. Over the east quadrant was a fair library, given by Walter Sherrington, chancellor to Henry the Sixth; and in the cloister was a chapel, built by the father of Thomas à Becket, who lay buried there. Of such antiquity was this beautiful and venerable place. Neither its age nor its beauty could save it. Nor could the lesson concerning the presence of death, in this lively portraiture, save it. Down it must come, and now there remains but two or three old men like myself who can remember the Dance of Paul's. Well, the figure of death is gone, but death himself we cannot drive away. There is Paul's Cross." He pointed to an edifice at the north-east angle of the transept.{345}

I looked with curiosity at this historical edifice, which was smaller, as all historical things are, than one expected. It was made of timber, mounted upon steps of stone, and covered with lead. There was room in it for three or four persons; a low wall was built round it. A venerable man was preaching to a small congregation, who sat on wooden benches to listen.

"What things have not been heard," said Stow, "at Paul's Cross? Here were the folk motes of old, when the people were called by the great bell to attend their parliament, and take counsel together. No Common Council then, my masters, but every man his freedom of speech, and his vote. Paul's Cross it was which made the Reformation. Here have I heard Latimer, Ridley, Coverdale, Lever, and I know not whom besides. Here I saw with my own eyes the Bexley Rood shown, with all the tricks whereby it was made to open its eyes and lips and seem to speak. All the Reformation was accomplished from this Cross. For a king may set up a bishop, and proclaim a doctrine, but the people's hearts must be moved before their minds are changed. Think what a change was made in their minds in a few short years! Masses for the dead, purgatory, intercession of saints, good works, submission to the Church, all gone—all swept away. And to think that I survive, who was brought up in the ancient faith, and have witnessed this great revolution in the minds of men. For now they no longer even remember their ancient faith, save as the creed of those who lit the accursed flame of Smithfield, and still light the flames of Madrid. Let us go into the church," he said. "But first remember, when{346} you look round, that in the old days the chapels in the aisles were always bright with the burning of wax candles—a superstition, because the burning of a candle is a fond thing to save a man's soul withal. Also, in every chapel, all day long, there was the saying of masses for the dead—another fond superstition—as if a man's soul is to be saved by the repetition of Latin prayers by another man. Yet, with these things the Church fulfilled its purpose. Now there are no more masses; and the chapels are empty and silent, their altars are removed, the paintings are defaced, and the Church is given over for worldly things. Come in."

We entered by the north transept.


There was much that astonished me in this walk through London of the year 1603, but nothing so surprising and unexpected as St. Paul's Cathedral. I had pictured a church narrow, long, somewhat low and dark. I found, on the other hand, that it was in every respect a most noble church, longer than any other cathedral I had ever seen, loftier, also, and well lighted in every part, the style grand and simple. Consider, therefore, my astonishment at finding the church desecrated and abandoned like the common streets for the general uses of the people. The choir alone, where the old screen still stood, was reserved for purposes of worship, for there was a public thoroughfare through the transepts and across the church. Men tramped through, carrying baskets of meat or of bread, sacks of coal, bundles, bags, and parcels of all kinds, walking as in the streets, turning neither to right nor left. Hucksters and peddlers not only walked through, but lingered on their way to sell their wares. Servants stood and sat about a certain pillar to be hired;{349} scriveners sat about another pillar writing letters for those who required their services; clergymen in quest of a curacy or vicarage gathered at another pillar. "Remember the verses," said Stow:

"'Who wants a churchman that can service say,
Read first and faire his monthlie homilie,
And wed and bury and make Christian soules?
Come to the left side alley of St. Paul's.'

"The poor clergymen," he went on, "have fallen upon evil times; there is not preferment enough for all of them, and many of the country parishes are too poor to keep a man, even though he live more hardly than a yeoman.

"This," he added, "is an exchange where almost as much business is done as at Sir Thomas Gresham's Burse, but of another kind. Here are houses bought and sold; here is money lent on usury; here are conspiracies hatched, villanies resolved upon; here is the honor of women bought and sold; here, if a man wants a handful of desperadoes for the Spanish Main, he may buy them cheap—look at those men standing by the tomb that they call Duke Humphrey's."

They were three tall, lean fellows, each with a long rapier and a worn doublet and a hungry face. Only to look upon them made one think of John Oxenham and his companions.

"These men should be taking of Panama or Guayaquil," said Stow. "The time grows too peaceful for such as those. But see, this is Paul's Walk; this is the Mediterranean."

The long middle aisle was crowded with a throng of men walking to and fro, some alone, some two or{350} three together. Some of them were merchants or retailers, some were countrymen looking about them and crying out for the loftiness of the roof and grandeur of the church. But many were young gallants, and those were evidently come to show the splendor of their dress and to mark and follow the newest fashions, which, like women, they learned from each other.

"These lads," said Stow, again echoing my thoughts, "were also better on board a stout ship bound for the West Indies than at home spending their fortunes on their backs, and their time in pranking before the other gallants. Yet they are young. Folly sits well on the young. In youth we love a brave show, if only to please the maidens. Let us not, like the sour preacher, cry out upon a young man because he glorifies his body by fine raiment. To such a jagg'd and embroidered sleeve is as bad as the sound of pipe and tabor or the sight of a playhouse. Let them preach. For all their preaching our gallants will still be fine. It is so long since I was young that I have well-nigh forgotten the feeling of youth. It is now their time. For them the fine fashions; for them the feasting; for them the love-making; for us to look on and to remember. At the mutability of the fashion we may laugh, for there is no sense in it, but only folly. To-day the high Alman fashion; to-morrow the Spanish guise; the day after, the French. See with what an air they walk; head thrown back, hand on hip, leg advanced. Saw one ever gallants braver or more splendid? No two alike, but each arrayed in his own fashion as seemeth him best, though each would have the highest ruff and the longest rapier. And look at their heads—as many fashions with their hair as with{351} their cloak and doublet. One is polled short; one has curls; another, long locks down to his shoulders. And some shave their chins; some have long beards, and some short beards. Some wear ear-rings, and have love-locks. Why not, good sir? Bones a' me! Plenty of time to save and hoard when we grow old. The world and the play of the world belong to the young. Let them enjoy the good things while they can."

While we were talking in this manner the clock struck the hour of eleven. Instantly there was a general movement towards the doors, and before the last stroke had finished ringing and echoing in the roof the church was empty, save for a few who still lingered and looked at each other disconsolately.

"It is the dinner-hour," said Stow.

"Then," said I, "lead me to some tavern where we may dine at our ease."

"There are many such taverns close to Paul's," he replied. "The Three Tuns in Newgate, the Boar's Head by London Stone, the Ship at the Exchange, the Mermaid in Cornhill, or the Mitre of Chepe. But of late my dinners have been small things, and I know not, what any town gallant could tell you, where to go for the best burnt sack or for sound Rhenish."

"The Mitre, then, on the chance."

This tavern, a gabled house, stood at the end of a passage leading from Cheapside, near the corner of Bread Street. The long room spread for dinner was two steps lower than the street, and not too well lighted. A narrow table ran down the middle; upon it was spread a fair white cloth; a clean napkin lay for every guest, and a knife. The table was already{352} filled. Loaves of bread were placed at intervals; they were of various shapes, round and square; salt was also placed at regular intervals. When we entered, the company stood up politely till we had found seats. Then all sat down again.

We took our seats in a corner, whence we could observe the company. Stow whispered in my ear that this was a shilling ordinary, and one of the best in London, as was proved by the number of guests. "Your city gallant," he said, "scents his dinner like a hound, and is never at fault. We shall dine well."

We did dine well; the boys brought us first roast beef with peas and buttered beans. "This," said the old man, "is well—everything in season. At midsummer, beef and beans; at Michaelmas, fresh herrings; at All Saints, pork and souse, sprats and spurlings; in Lent, parsnips and leeks, to soften the saltness of the fish; at Easter, veal and bacon, or at least gammon of bacon, and tansy cake with stained eggs; at Martinmas, salt beef. Let old customs be still maintained. Methinks we are back in the days of bluff King Hal. Well, London was ever a city of plenty. Even the craftsman sits down to his brown-bread and bacon and his ale. Harry, bring me a tankard of March beer—and another dish of beef, tell the carver."

(Now pulled down)

After the beef, we were served with roast capons and ducks. The absence of forks was partly made up by the use of bread, and no one scrupled to take the bones and suck them or even crunch them. But there was so much politeness and so many compliments passing from one to the other, that those small points passed almost unnoticed, even by my unaccustomed{355} eyes. One quickly learns to think more of the people than of their ways in little things. Apart from their bravery in dress and their habit of compliment, I was struck with the cheerfulness and confidence, even the extravagance, of their talk. Their manner was that of the soldier, sanguine, confident, and rather loud. Some there were who looked ready to ruffle and to swagger.

The capon was followed by a course of cakes and fruit. Especially, the confection known as march-pane, in which the explorer lights upon filberts, almonds, and pistachio nuts, buried in sugared cake, hath left a pleasing memory in my mind.

Dinner over, the old man, my guide, offered no opposition to a flask of wine, which was brought in a glass measure with sugar thrown in.

"For choice," he said, "give me malmsey full and fine, sweetened with sugar. Your French wines are too thin for my old blood. Boy, bring a clean pipe and tobacco."

By this time almost every man in the room was smoking, though some contented themselves with their snuff-boxes. The tables were cleared, the boys ran about setting before every man his cup of wine and taking the reckoning.

Tobacco, the old man said, though introduced so recently, had already spread over the whole country, so that most men and many women took their pipe of tobacco every day with as much regularity as their cup of wine or tankard of ale. So widespread was now the practice that many hundreds made a livelihood in London alone by the retailing of this herb.

"And now," he said, when his pipe was reduced to ashes, "let us across the river and see the play at the{356} Globe. The time serves; we shall be in the house before the second flourish."

There was a theatre, he told me on the way, easier of access among the ruins of the Dominicans', or Black Friars', Abbey, but that was closed for the moment. "We shall learn," he added, "the piece that is to be played from the posts of Queenhithe, where we take oars." In fact, we found the posts at that port placarded with small bills, announcing the performance of "Troilus and Cressida."

Bank Side consisted, I found, of a single row of houses, built on a dike, or levee, higher both than the river at high tide and the ground behind the bank. Before the building of the bank this must have been a swamp covered with water at every tide; it was now laid out in fields, meadows, and gardens. At one end of Bank Side stood the Clink Prison, Winchester House, and St. Mary Overies Church. At the other end was the Falcon Tavern, with its stairs, and behind it was the Paris Gardens.

The fields were planted with many noble trees, and in every one there was a pond or stagnant ditch which showed the nature of the ground. A little to the west of the Clink and behind the houses stood the Globe Theatre, and close beside it the "Bull-baiting." The theatre, erected in the year 1593, was hexagonal externally. It was open in the middle, but the stage and the galleries within were covered over with a thatched roof. Over the door was the sign of the house—Hercules supporting the globe, with the legend, "Totus mundus agit histrionem."


The interior of the theatre was circular in shape. It contained three galleries, one above the other; the{357} lowest called the "rooms," for seats in which we paid a shilling each, contained the better sorts. At each side of the stage there were boxes, one of which contained the music. The stage itself, a stout construction of timber, projected far into the pit, or, as Stow called it, the "yarde." At the back was another stage, supported on two columns, and giving the players a gallery about ten or twelve feet high, the purpose of which we were very soon to find out. On each side of the stage were seats for those who paid an additional sixpence. Here were a dozen or twenty gallants, either with pipes of tobacco, or playing cards or dice before the play began. One of them would get up quickly with a pretence of impatience, and push back his cloak so as to show the richness of his doublet below. The young men, whether at the theatre, or in Paul's Walk, or in Chepe, seemed all intent upon showing their bravery of attire; no girls of our day could be more vain of their dress, or more critical of the dress worn by others. Some of them, however, I perceived among the groundlings—that is, the people in the "yarde"—gazing about the house upon{358} the women in the galleries. Here there were many dressed very finely, like ladies of quality, in satin gowns, lawn aprons, taffeta petticoats, and gold threads in their hair. They seemed to rejoice in being thus observed and gazed upon. When a young man had found a girl to his taste, he went into the gallery, sat beside her, and treated her to pippins, nuts, or wine.

It was already one o'clock when we arrived. As we took our seats the music played its first sounding or flourish. There was a great hubbub in the place: hucksters went about with baskets crying pippins, nuts, and ale; in the "rooms" book-sellers' boys hawked about new books; everybody was talking together; everywhere the people were smoking tobacco, playing cards, throwing dice, cheapening books, cracking nuts, and calling for ale. The music played a second sounding. The hubbub continued unabated. Then it played the third and last. Suddenly the tumult ceased. The piece was about to begin.

The stage was decorated with blue hangings of silk between the columns, showing that the piece was to be—in part, at least—a comedy. Across the raised gallery at the back was stretched a painted canvas representing a royal palace. When the scene was changed this canvas became the wall of a city, and the actors would walk on the top of the wall; or a street with houses; or a tavern with its red lattice and its sign; or a tented field. When night was intended, the blue hangings were drawn up and exchanged for black.

The hawkers retired and were quiet; the house settled down to listen, and the Prologue began. Prologue appeared dressed in a long black velvet cloak; he assumed{359} a diffident and most respectful manner; he bowed to the ground.

"In Troy there lies the scene. From isles of Greece,
The princes orgulous, their high blood chaf'd,
Have to the port of Athens sent their ships."

In this way the mind of the audience was prepared for what was to follow. We needed no play-bill. The palace before us could be no other than Priam's Palace.{360} If there was a field with tents, it must be the battle-field and the camp of the Greeks; if there was a wall, it must be the wall of Troy. And though the scenery was rough, it was enough. One wants no more than the unmistakable suggestion; the poet and the actor find the rest. Therefore, though the intrusive gallants lay on the stage; though Troilus was dressed in the armor of Tudor-time, and Pandarus wore just such a doublet as old Stow himself, we were actually at Troy. The boy who played Cressida was a lovely maiden. The narrow stage was large enough for the Council of Kings, the wooing of lovers, and the battle-field of heroes. Women unfaithful and perjured, lovers trustful, warriors fierce, the alarms of war, fighting and slaying, the sweet whispers of love drowned by the blare of trumpets; the loss of lover forgotten in the loss of a great captain; and among the warriors and the kings and the lovers, the creeping creatures who live upon the weaknesses and the sins of their betters, played their parts upon these narrow boards before a silent and enraptured house. For three hours we were kept out of our senses. There was no need, I say, of better scenery; a quick shifting of the canvas showed a battle-field and turned the stage into a vast plain covered with armies of Greeks and Romans. Soldiers innumerable, as thick as motes in the sun, crossed the stage fighting, shouting, challenging each other. While they fought, the trumpets blew and the drums beat, the wounded fell, and the fight continued over these prostrate bodies till they were carried off by their friends. The chiefs rushed to the front, crossed swords, and rushed off again. "Come, both you cogging Greeks!" said Troilus, while our cheeks flushed{361} and our lips parted. If the stage had been four times as broad, if the number of men in action had been multiplied by ten, we could not have felt more vividly the rage, the joy, the madness of the battle.

When the play was finished, the ale, the apples, and the nuts were passed round, and the noise began again. Then the clown came in and began to sing, and the music played—but oh, how poor it seemed after the great emotions of the play! The old man plucked me by the sleeve, and we went out, and with us most of the better sort.

"The first plays," said the antiquary, "that ever I saw were those that were played on stages put up in the court-yards of inns, where the galleries afforded place for the audience, and the stage was made of boards laid upon trestles. Tarleton used to play at the Bull Inn, Bishopsgate, and at the Cross Keys, Grasse Street. He was reckoned a famous player, yet, compared with those we have seen this day, a fustian mouther, no doubt. Rude plays they were, and rude players; but I dare say they moved the spectators as much as this fine theatre."

Not far from the Globe stood another building of circular form; a throng of people pressed about the doors, and a great noise of barking and shouting came from within. "It is the Bull-baiting," said my guide. "But the place is full of rough men, whose wrath is easily moved, and then out come knives and there is a tumult. I am too old for such things. Nevertheless, it is a noble sport; and when you come to whipping the blinded bear, who lately broke away and bit a piece out of a man's thigh, it passes all." He lingered as if he would join in it once more with a little{362} encouragement. Finding none, he walked slowly away to the river-bank.

"This place," said Stow, "hath an ill name, by reason of evil-doers, who were long permitted to live here—a place notorious for three hundred years as the common sink of the city. No reputable citizen would have his country-house and garden on Bank Side. Why, there are private gardens all round London as far north as Islington, and as far east as Ratcliffe Cross, but none here. The air is fresh and wholesome coming up the river, the ground fertile: see the trees and hedges how they flourish; yet there is never a private garden in the place. For this reason the bull-baiting was here, and Paris Gardens with its bears—an' it were Sunday, I would show you the bears—old Harry Hunks and Sackerson. For this reason was the Globe built here, without the city precincts. Where are the theatres and the baitings, the musicians and the shows, thither must gather together the poets, singers, mummers, and all those who live by ministering to the merriment and pleasure of the world. A company of keen wits they are, their tongues readier than most, and their talk bolder. Sober merchants, who think more of the matter and less of the manner, like not such company." Here the tinkling of a guitar, followed by a burst of laughter, interrupted the discourse. "I doubt not," said Stow, "that we have here—'tis the Falcon Tavern—a company of wits and poets and players. Let us tarry but the drinking of a single flask. It may be, unless their tongues are more free than is seemly, that we shall be rewarded."

The Falcon Inn stood at the western end of Bank Side, at the head of the Falcon stairs. In front a{363} small garden stretched out towards the river. Part of the garden was an arbor, formed by a vine raised on poles, so as to form a roof of leaves. Here was a table placed, and round the table a company of ten or a dozen. At the head of the table was a young gentleman richly dressed. Behind him stood two servants. At his right sat a man of about thirty, of large frame and already corpulent, his brown hair short and curly, his beard cut short, his eyes singularly bright.


"'Tis Ben Jonson," whispered Stow. "Let{364} us sit here, without the arbor, so that we can drink and listen. Ben is but lately out of prison, where he was cast for writing reflections on the Scottish nation. 'Twas said that he would lose his ears and have his nose slit, but the King showed mercy. He at the head of the table is some young nobleman, patron of poets, but, alas! I live now so retired that I know not his name. On the left of him is William Shakespeare, whom some think a better poet than Ben—a quiet man who says little. I have seen him here before. 'Twas he wrote the piece we have seen this day. He has a share in the theatre of Blackfriars. Burbage, the actor, sits next to Shakespeare, and then Alleyn and Hemying opposite, and Henslowe. And there is John Marston, another poet."

Alleyn it was who held the guitar. At this time he was in the prime of life, not yet forty, his face full of mobility and quickness. He ran his fingers carelessly over the notes, and then began to sing in a clear, high voice:

"'Twas I that paid for all things,
'Twas others drank the wine;
I cannot now recall things,
Live but a fool to pine.
'Twas I that beat the bush,
The bird to others flew!
For she, alas! for she, alas! hath left me.
"If ever that Dame Nature
(For this false lover's sake)
Another pleasant creature
Like unto her would make,
{365} Let her remember this,
To make the other twice!
For this, alas! for this, alas! hath left me.
"No riches now can raise me,
No want make me despair;
No misery amaze me,
Nor yet for want I care.
I have lost a World itself;
My earthly Heaven, adieu!
Since she, alas! since she, alas! hath left me.

"Sir," said the young gentleman, "'tis an excellent song well sung. I drink your health."

This he did rising, and very courteously.

Now, in the talk that followed I observed that, while the players amused by relating anecdotes, Ben Jonson made laughter by what he said, speaking in language which belongs to scholars and to books, and that Shakespeare sat for the most part in silence, yet not in the silence of a blockhead in the presence of wits, and when he spoke it was to the purpose. Also I remarked that the guitar passed from hand to hand, and that everybody could play and sing, and that the boldness of the talk showed the freedom of their minds. Who can repeat the unrestrained conversation of a tavern company? Nay, since some of them were more than merry with the wine, it would be an ill turn to set down what they said. We drank our cups and listened to the talk.

Presently Ben Jonson himself sang one of his own songs, in a rough but not unmelodious voice:{366}

"Follow a shadow, it still flies you;
Seem to fly it, it will pursue.
So court a mistress, she denies you;
Let her alone—she will court you.
Say, are not women truly, then,
Styled but the shadows of us men?
"At morn or even shades are longest,
At noon they are or short or none;
So men at weakest, they are strongest,
But grant us perfect, they're not known.
Say, are not women truly, then,
Styled but the shadows of the men?"

We came away about sunset, or near half-past eight in the evening. Some of the company were by this time merry with their wine, and as we rose one began to bawl an old tavern ditty, drumming on the wood of the guitar with his knuckles:

"There was a Ewe had three lambs,
And one of them was blacke;
There was a man had three sons—
Jeffrey, James, and Jack.
"The one was hanged, the other drown'd;
The third was lost and never found;
The old man he fell in a sound—
Come fill us a cup of Sacke."

It was nearly high tide on the river, which spread itself out full and broad between the banks, reflecting the evening glow in the western sky. Numberless swans floated about the stream. It was also covered with boats. Some were state barges belonging to great people, with awnings and curtains, painted and gilt, filled with ladies who sang as the boat floated{367} quietly with the current to the music of guitars. Others were the cockle-shell of humble folk. Here was the prentice, taking his sweetheart out upon the river for the freshness of the evening air; here the citizen, with his wife and children in a wherry; here the tilt-boat, with its load of passengers coming up from Greenwich to Westminster. There were also the barges and lighters laden with hay, wool, and grain, waiting for the tide to turn in order to unload at Queenhithe or Billingsgate.

"This," said Stow, "is the best place of any for a prospect of the city. Here we can count the spires and the towers. I know them every one. Look how Paul's rises above the houses. His walls are a hundred feet high. His tower that you see is near three hundred feet high, and his spire, which has been burned down these forty years, was two hundred feet more. Alas, that goodly spire! It is only from this bank that you can see the great houses along the river. There the ruins of White Friars—there those of the Dominicans. Ruins were they not, but splendid buildings in the days of my youth. Baynard's Castle, the Steel Yard, Cold Harbor, the Bridge—there they stand. The famous city of Venice itself, I dare swear, cannot show so fair a prospect. See, now the sun lights up the windows of Nonesuch on the Bridge—see how the noble structure is reflected in the water below. Good sir," he turned to me with glowing face and eyes aflame with enthusiasm, "there is no other city in the whole world, believe me, which may compare with this noble City of London, of which—glory to God!—I have been permitted to become the humble historian."{368}

We took boat at Falcon stairs—Stow told me there were two thousand boats and three thousand watermen on the river—and we returned to Queenhithe, the watermen shouting jokes and throwing strong words at each other, which seems to be their custom. By the time we landed the sun had gone down. Work for the day was over, and the streets were thronged with people. First, however, it was necessary to think of supper. My guide took me to an old inn in Dowgate; you entered it as at the Mitre by a long passage. This was the well-known Swan, where we found a goodly company assembled. They seemed to be merchants all; grave men, not given to idle mirth, so that the conversation was more dull (if more seemly) than at the Falcon. For supper they served us roast pullet with a salad of lettuce, very good, and a flask of right Canary. My ancient guide swore—"Bones a' me"—that it contained the very spirit and essence of the Canary grape. "Sir," he said, "can a man live in London for eighty years and fail to discern good wine from bad? Why, the city drinks up, I believe, all the good wine in the world. Amsterdam is built on piles set in the ooze and mud. London floats on puncheons, pipes, and hogsheads of the best and choicest. This is truly rare Canary. Alas! I am past eighty. I shall drink but little more."

So he drank and warmed his old heart and discussed further, but it would be idle to set down all he said, because most of it is in books, and my desire has been to record only what cannot be found, by the curious, already printed.

After supper we had more wine and tobacco. Some of the company fell to card-playing, some to dice.{369} Then the door opened, and a man came in with two children, boys, who sang with him while he played the guitar. They sang madrigals very sweetly, each his own part truly and with justice. When they finished, the boys went around with a platter and collected farthings. And having paid our reckoning we went away.

In the streets outside, the women sat at their doors or stood about gossiping with each other. At every corner a bonfire was merrily burning. This was partly because it was the Vigil of St. John the Baptist, partly because in the city they always lit bonfires in the summer months to purify and cleanse the air. But because of the day every door was shadowed with green branches—birch, long fennel, St. John's wort, orpin, white lilies, and such like—garnished with garlands of beautiful flowers. They had also hung up lamps of colored glass, with oil to burn all the night, so that the streets looked gay and bright with the red light of the bonfires playing on the tall gabled fronts, and the red and green light of the lamps. From all the taverns, as we passed, came the sound of music, singing, and revelry, with the clink of glasses and the uplifting of voices thick with wine. There was the sound of music and singing from the private houses. Everywhere singing—everywhere joy and happiness. In the streets the very prentices and their sweethearts danced, to the pipe and tabor, those figures called the Brawl and the Canary, and better dancing, with greater spirit and more fidelity to the steps, had I never before seen.

At last we stopped once more before the door of John Stow's house.{370}

"Sir," he said, taking my hand, "the time has come to bid you farewell. It has been a great honor—believe me—to converse with one of a generation yet to come, and a great satisfaction to learn that my name will live so long beside those of the poets of this noble age. Many things there are into which I would fain have inquired. The looking into futurity is an idle thing, yet I would fain have asked if you have put a new steeple on Paul's; if you still suffer the desecration of that place; if London will spread still more beyond her walls; if her trade will still more increase; if the Spaniard will be always permitted to hold the Continent of America; if the Pope will still be reigning; with many other things. But you came this day to learn, and I to teach. When next you come, suffer me in turn to put questions. And now, good sir, farewell. Behold!" He raised his hands in admiration. "I have spent a day—a whole day—with a man of the nineteenth century!! Bones a' me!!!"

So he went within and shut the door.{371}



It is not proposed here to swell with any new groans the general chorus of lamentation over the deplorable morals of King Charles's court. Let us acknowledge that we want all the available groans for the deplorable morals of our own time. Let us leave severely on one side Whitehall, with the indolent king: his mistresses, his singing boys, his gaming tables, his tinkling guitars, his feasting and his dancing. We will have nothing whatever to do with Chiffinch and his friends, nor with Rochester, nor with Nell Gwynne, nor with Old Rowley himself. Therefore, of course, we can have nothing to do with Messrs. Wycherley, Congreve, and company. It is, I know, the accepted excuse for these dramatists that their characters are not men and women, but puppets. To my humble thinking they are not puppets at all, but living and actual human creatures—portraits of real men and women who haunted Whitehall. Let us keep to the east of Temple Bar: hither come whispers, murmurs, rumors, of sad doings at court: sober and grim citizens, still touched with the Puritan spirit, speak of these rumors with sorrow and disappointment;{372} they had hoped better things after the ten years' exile, yet they knew so little and were always ready to believe so well of the King—and his Majesty was always so friendly to the City—that the reports remained mere reports. It is really no use to keep a king unless you are able to persuade yourself that he is wiser, nobler, more virtuous, braver, and greater than ordinary mortals. Indeed, as the head and leader of the nation, he is officially the wisest, noblest, bravest, best, and greatest among us, and is so recognized in the Prayer-book. Even those who are about the court, and therefore are so unhappy as to be convinced of the exact contrary, do their best to keep up the illusion. The great mass of mankind still continue to believe that moral and intellectual superiority goes with the crown and belongs to the reigning sovereign. The only change that has come over nations living under the monarchic form of government as regards their view of kings is that they no longer believe all this of the reigning sovereign's predecessor; as regards the present occupant of the throne, of course. Are the citizens of a republic similarly convinced as regards their President?


The evil example of the court, therefore, produced very little effect upon the morals of the City. At first, indeed, the whole nation, tired to death of grave faces, sober clothes, Puritanic austerity, godly talk, downcast eyes, and the intolerable nuisance of talking and thinking perpetually about the very slender chance of getting into heaven, rushed into a reckless extreme of brave and even gaudy attire and generous feasting, the twang of the guitar no longer prohibited, nor the singing of love ditties, nor the dancing of the{375} youths and maids forbidden. Even this natural reaction affected only the young. The heart of the City was, and remained for a hundred and fifty years afterwards, deeply affected with the Puritanic spirit. It has been of late years the fashion of the day—led by those who wish to saddle us again with sacerdotalism—to scoff and laugh at this spirit. It has nearly disappeared now, even in America; but we may see in it far more than what has been called the selfish desire of each man to save his own soul. We may see in it, especially, the spirit of personal responsibility, the loss of which—if we ever do lose it, should authority be able to reassert her old power—will be fatal to intellectual or moral advance. Personal responsibility brings with it personal dignity, enterprise, courage, patience, all the virtues. Only that man who stands face to face with his Maker, with no authority intervening, can be called free. But when the young men of the City had had their fling, in the first rush and whirlpool of the Restoration, they settled down soberly to business again. The foundation of the Hudson's Bay Company proves that the Elizabethan spirit of enterprise was by no means dead. The Institution of the Royal Society, which had its first home in Gresham College, proves that the City thought of other useful things besides money-getting. The last forty years of the seventeenth century, however, might have been passed over as presenting no special points of change, except in the gradual introduction of tea and coffee. As London was in the time of Elizabeth, so it was, with a few changes, in the time of Charles the Second. A little variation in the costumes; a little alteration in the hour of dinner; a greatly extended{376} trade over a much wider world; and, in all other respects, the same city.

Two events—two disasters—give special importance to this period. I mean the Plague and the Fire.

The Plague was the twelfth of its kind which visited the City during a period of seven hundred years. The twelfth and the last. Yet not the worst. That of the year 1407 is said to have killed half the population: that of 1517, if historians are to be believed in the matter of numbers, which is seldom the case, killed more than half. Of all these plagues we hear no more than the bare, dreadful fact, "Plague—so many thousands killed." That is all that the chronicles tell us. Since there was no contemporary historian we know nothing more. How many plagues have fallen upon poor humanity, with countless tragedies and appalling miseries, but with no historian? We know all about the Plague of Athens, the Plague of Florence, the Plague of London—the words require no dates—but what of the many other plagues?

The plague was no new thing; it was always threatening; it broke out on board ship; it was carried about in bales; it was brought from the Levant with the figs and the spices; some sailor was stricken with it; reports were constantly flying about concerning it; now it was at Constantinople; now at Amsterdam; now at Marseilles; now at Algiers; everybody knew that it might come again at any time. But it delayed; the years went on; there was no plague; the younger people ceased to dread it. Then, like the Deluge, which may stand as the type of disaster long promised and foretold, and not to be avoided, yet long delayed,{377} it came at last. And when it went away it had destroyed near upon a hundred thousand people.

We read the marvellous history of the Plague as it presented itself to the imagination of Daniel Defoe, who wrote fifty years after the event. Nothing ever written in the English language holds the reader with such a grip as his account of the Plague. It seems as if no one at the time could have been able to speak or think of anything but the Plague; we see the horror of the empty streets; we hear the cries and lamentations of those who are seized and those who are bereaved. The cart comes slowly along the streets with the man ringing a bell and crying, "Bring out your dead! Bring out your dead!" We think of the great fosses communes, the holes into which the dead were thrown in heaps and covered with a little earth; we think of the grass growing in the streets; the churches deserted; the clergymen basely flying; their places taken by the ejected nonconformists who preach of repentance and forgiveness—no time, this, for the Calvinist to number the Elect on his ten fingers—to as many as dare assemble together; the roads black with fugitives hurrying from the abode of Death; we hear the frantic mirth of revellers snatching to-night a doubtful rapture, for to-morrow they die. The City is filled with despair. We look into the pale faces of those who venture forth; we hear the sighs of those who meet; nobody—nobody, we imagine—can think of aught else than the immediate prospect of death for himself and all he loves.

Pepys, however, who remained in the City most of the time, not only notes down calmly the progress of the pestilence, but also allows us to see the effect it{378} produced on his own mind. It is very curious. He reads the Bills of Mortality as they are published: he, as well as Defoe, records the silent and deserted appearance of the town: he confesses, now and then, that he is fearful; but his mind is all the time entirely occupied with his own advancement and his own pleasures. He feasts and drinks with his friends; he notes that "we were very merry." Occasionally he betrays a little anxiety, but he is never panic-stricken.

In the entry of September, when the Plague was at its height, and the terror and misery of London at their worst, he writes: "To the Tower, and there sent for the weekly Bill, and find 8252 dead in all, and of these 6978 of the Plague, which is a most dreadful number and shows reason to fear that the Plague hath got that hold that it will yet continue among us. Thence to Branford, reading 'The Villaine,' a pretty good play, all the way. There a coach of Mr. Povy's stood ready for me, and he at his house ready to come in, and so we together merrily to Swakely to Sir R. Viner." And the same week, hearing that Lord Sandwich with the fleet had taken some prizes—"the receipt of this news did put us all into an extasy of joy that it inspired into Sir J. Minner and Mr. Evelyn such a spirit of mirth, that in all my life I never met with so merry a two hours as our company this night was." Perhaps, however, this excess of mirth was not due to insensibility, but was a natural reaction from the gloom and terror that stalked the streets.

The summer of 1665 was curiously hot and dry. Every day a blue sky, a scorching sun, and no breath of wind. If bonfires were kindled to purify the air,{379} the smoke ascended and hung overhead in a motionless cloud. From May till September, no wind, no rain, no cloud, only perpetual sunshine to mock the misery of the prostrate city.

At the first outbreak of the disease the people began to run away; the roads were black with carts carrying their necessaries into the country; the City clergy for the most part deserted their churches; physicians ran from the disease they could not cure, pretending that they had to go away with their patients; the Court left Whitehall; the Courts of Justice were removed to Oxford. The Archbishop of Canterbury, however, remained at Lambeth Palace, and the Duke of Albemarle and Lord Craven remained in their town houses. And the Lord Mayor, Sir John Laurence, ordered that the aldermen, sheriffs, common councilmen, and all constables and officers of the City should remain at their posts.

As the Plague increased, business of all kinds was suspended; works were closed; ships that arrived laden, went down the river again and across to Amsterdam; ships that waited for their cargoes lay idle in the Pool by hundreds; shops were shut; manufactories and industries of all kinds were stopped.

Consider what this means. London was not only a city of foreign trade and a great port, but a city, also, of many industries. It made an enormous quantity of things; the very livelihood of the City was derived from its trade and its industries. These once stopped, the City perished. We have seen how the Roman Augusta decayed and died. The people had no longer any trade or any work, or any food. Therefore, the City died. The same thing, from different causes,{380} happened again. Trade and work were suspended. Therefore, the people began to starve.


Defoe, in his cataloguing way, which is the surest way of bringing a thing home to every one's understanding, enumerates all the different trades thrown out of work. That is to say, he catalogues all the trades of London. Let it be understood that the population of London was then about 350,000. This{381} means about 100,000 working men of sixteen and upward. All these craftsmen, living from week to week upon their wages, with nothing saved, were turned out of employment almost at the same time—they and their families left to starve. Not only this, but clerks, book-keepers, serving-men, footmen, maid-servants, and apprentices were all turned into the streets together. Add to this the small shopkeepers and retailers of every kind, who live by their daily or weekly takings, and we shall have a population of a quarter of a million to keep.

The Lord Mayor, assisted by the Archbishop and the two lords, Albemarle and Craven, began and maintained a service of relief for these starving multitudes. The King sent a thousand pounds a week; the City gave six hundred pounds a week; merchants and rich people sent thousands every week; it is said that a hundred thousand pounds a week was contributed; this seems too great a sum—yet a whole city out of work! Employment was found for some of the men as constables, drivers of the carts that carried the dead to the burial-places, and so forth—and for the women as nurses. And, thanks to the Mayor's exertions, there was a plentiful supply of provisions during the whole time.


The disease continued to spread. It was thought that dogs and cats carried about infection. All those in the City were slaughtered. They even tried, for the same reason, to poison the rats and mice, but apparently failed. The necessity of going to market was a great source of danger; people were warned to lift their meat off the counter by iron hooks. Many families isolated themselves. The journal of one such{382} household remains. The household, which lived in Wood Street, Cheapside, consisted of the master, a wholesale grocer, his wife, five children, two maid-servants, two apprentices, a porter, and a boy. He sent the boy to his friends in the country; he gave the elder apprentice the rest of his time; and he stationed his porter, Abraham, outside his door, there to sit night and day. Every window was closed, and nothing suffered to enter the house except at one upper window, which was opened to admit necessaries, but only with fumigation of gunpowder. At first the Plague, while it raged about Holborn, Fleet Street, and the Strand, came not within the City. This careful man, however, fully expected it, and when it did appear in July he locked himself up for good. Then they knew nothing except what the porter told them, and what they read in the Bills of Mortality. But all day long the knell never ceased to toll. Very soon{383} all the houses in the street were infected and visited except their own. And when every day, and all day long, he heard nothing but bad news, growing daily worse, and when every night he heard the dismal bell and the rumbling of the dead cart, and the voice of the bellman crying, "Bring out your dead!" he began to give up all for lost. First, however, he made arrangements for the isolation of any one who should be seized. Three times a day they held a service of prayer; twice a week they observed a day of fasting; one would think that this maceration of the flesh was enough in itself to invite the Plague. Every morning the father rose early and went round to each chamber door asking how its inmates fared. When they replied "Well," he answered "Give God thanks." Outside, Abraham sat all day long, hearing from every passer-by the news of the day, which grew more and more terrifying, and passing it on to the upper window, where it was received with a fiery fumigation. One day Abraham came not. But his wife came. "Abraham," she said, "died of the Plague this morning, and as for me, I have it also, and I am going home to die. But first I will send another man to take my husband's place." So the poor faithful woman crept home and died, and that night with her husband was thrown into a great pit with no funeral service except the cursing and swearing of the rough fellows who drove the cart. The other man came, but in a day or two he also sickened and died. Then they had no porter and no way of communicating with the outer world. They remained prisoners, the whole family, with the two maids, for five long months. I suppose they must have devised some necessary communication{384} with the outer world, or they would have starved.

Presently the Plague began to decrease; its fury was spent. But it was not until the first week of December that this citizen ventured forth. Then he took all his family to Tottenham for a change of air. One would think they needed it after this long confinement, and the monotony of their prison fare.

By this time the people were coming back fast—too fast; because their return caused a fresh outbreak. Then there was a grand conflagration of everything which might harbor the plague—curtains, sheets, blankets, hangings, stuffs, clothes—whatever there was in which the accursed thing might linger. And every house in which a case had occurred was scoured and whitewashed, while the church-yards were all covered with fresh earth at least a foot thick.

All this is a twice-told tale. But some tales may be told again and again. Consider, for instance, apart from the horror of this mighty pestilence, the loss and injury inflicted upon the City. If it is true that a hundred thousand perished, about half of them would be the craftsmen, the skilled workmen who created most of the wealth of London. How to replace these men? They could never be replaced.

Consider, again, that London was the great port for the reception and transmission of all the goods in the whole country. The stoppage of trade in London meant the stoppage of trade over the whole land. The cloth-makers of the West, the iron-founders, the colliers, the tin mines, the tanners, all were stopped, all were thrown out of work.


Again, consider the ruin of families. How many{385} children of flourishing master-workmen, tradesmen, and merchants were reduced to poverty by the death of the father, and suddenly lowered to the level of working-men, happy if they were still young enough{386} to learn a craft? How many lost their credit in the general stoppage of business? How many fortunes were cast away when no debts could be collected, and when the debtors themselves were all destroyed? And in cases when children were too young to protect themselves, how many were plundered of everything when their parents were dead?

Defoe, writing what he had learned by conversation with those who could remember this evil time, speaks of strange extravagances on the part of those who were infected. Very likely there were such things. Not, however, that they were common, as his story would have us believe. I prefer the picture of the imprisoned citizen, which represents a city sitting in sorrowful silence, the people crouching in their houses in silence or in prayer, gazing helpless upon each other, while the blue sky and the hot sun look down upon them, and the Plague grows busier every day.

When it abated at last, and the runaways went back to town, Pepys among them, he notes the amazing number of beggars. These poor creatures were the widows or children of the craftsmen, or the craftsmen themselves whose ruin we have just noted.

This was in January. The Plague, however, dragged on. In the week ending March 1, 1666, there were forty-two deaths from it. In the month of July it was still present in London, and reported to be raging at Colchester. In August, Pepys finds the house of one of his friends in Fenchurch Street shut up with the Plague, and it was said to be as bad as ever at Greenwich. This was the last entry about it, because in a week or two there was to happen an{387} event of even greater importance than this great Plague.

Observe that this was the last appearance of the Plague. Since 1665 it has never appeared in Europe, except in Marseilles in the year 1720. It is not extinct. It smoulders, like Vesuvius. There is nothing, so far as can be understood, to prevent its reappearance in London or anywhere else, unless it is the improved sanitation of modern cities. For instance, it was at Astrakhan in 1879. But it travelled no farther west. It is generated in the broad miasmatic valley of the Euphrates; there it lies, ready to be carried about the world, the last gift of Babylon to the nations. When that great city is built again, the centre of commerce between Europe and the East, the valley will once more be drained and cultivated, and the Plague will die and be no more seen. But who is to rebuild Babylon and to repeople the land of the Assyrians?

There were two great Plagues of London in the seventeenth century before this—the last and greatest—one in 1603 and the other in 1625. I have before me two contemporary tracts upon these plagues. They illustrate what has been said of the Plague of 1665. Exactly the same things happened. In listening either to him of 1603, or to him of 1625, one hears the voice of 1665. I think that these tracts have never before been quoted. Yet it is quite clear to me that Defoe must have seen them both.

The first is called The Wonderful Year, 1603. The author, who is anonymous, begins with weeping over the death of Queen Elizabeth. This tribute paid, with such exaggerated grief as belongs to his sense{388} of loyalty, he rejoices, with equal extravagance, over the accession of James. This brings him to his real subject:

A stiffe and freezing horror sucks vp the riuers of my blood: my haire stands an ende with the panting of my braines: mine eye balls are ready to start out, being beaten with the billowes of my teares: out of my weeping pen does the inke mournfully and more bitterly than gall drop on the pale-faced paper, even when I do but thinke how the bowels of my sicke country have bene torne. Apollo, therefore, and you bewitching siluer-tongd Muses, get you gone: I inuocate none of your names. Sorrow and truth, sit you on each side of me, whilst I am delivered of this deadly burden: prompt me that I may utter ruthfull and passionate condolement: arme my trembling hand, that I may boldly rip up and anatomize the ulcerous body of this Anthropophagized Plague: lend me art (without any counterfeit shadowing) to paint and delineate to the life the whole story of this mortall and pestiferous battaile. And you the ghosts of those more (by many) than 40000, that with the virulent poison of infection haue bene driuen out of your earthly dwellings: you desolate hand-wringing widowes, that beate your bosomes over your departing husbands: you wofully distracted mothers that with disheueld haire falne into swounds, while you lye kissing the insensible cold lips of your breathlesse infants: you out-cast and down-troden orphans, that shall many a yeare hence remember more freshly to mourne, when your mourning garments shall looke olde and be forgotten; and you the Genii of all those emptyed families, whose habitations are now among the Antipodes; joine all your hands together, and with your bodies cast a ring about me; let me behold your ghastly vizages, that my paper may receiue their true pictures: Eccho forth your grones through the hollow trunke of my pen, and raine downe your gummy tears into mine incke, that even marble bosomes may be shaken with terrour, and hearts of adamant melt into compassion.


In this extravagant vein he plunges into the subject.{391} Death, he says, like stalking Tamberlaine, hath pitched his tent in the suburbs; the Plague is muster-master and marshal of the field; the main army is a "mingle-mangle" of dumpish mourners, merry sextons, hungry coffin-sellers, and nastie grave-makers. All who could run away, he says, did run; some riding, some on foot, some without boots, some in slippers, by water, by land—"in shoals swom they." Then the Plague invaded the City. Every house looked like Bartholomew's Hospital; the people drank mithridatum and dragon-water all day long; they stuffed their ears and noses with rue and wormwood. Lazarus lay at the door, but Dives was gone; there were no dogs in the streets, for the Plague killed them all; whole families were carried to the grave as if to bed. "What became of our Phisitions in this massacre? They hid their synodical heads as well as the prowdest; for their phlebotomes, losinges, and electuaries, with their diacatholicons, diacodions, amulets, and antidotes had not so much strength to hold life and soule together as a pot of Pindar's ale and a nutmeg." When servants and prentices were attacked by the disease, they were too often thrust out-of-doors by their masters, and perished "in fields, in ditches, in common cages, and under stalls." Then he begins to tell the gruesome stories that belong to every time of Plague. In this he is followed by Defoe, who most certainly saw this pamphlet. What happened in 1603 also happened in 1665. Those who could run away did so; the physicians—who could do nothing—ran; the rich merchants ran; there was a general stoppage of trade; there was great suffering among the poor; those who dared to sit together, sat in the taverns drinking{392} till they lost their fears. His stories told, the writer concludes:

I could fill a whole uolume, and call it the second part of the hundred mery tales, onely with such ridiculous stuffe as this of the Justice; but Dii meliora; I haue better matters to set my wits about: neither shall you wring out of my pen (though you lay it on the racke) the villainies of that damnd Keeper, who killd all she kept; it had bene good to haue made her Keeper of the common Jayle, and the holes of both Counters; for a number lye there that wish to be rid out of this motley world; shee would haue tickled them and turned them ouer the thumbs. I will likewise let the Church-warden in Thames-street sleep (for hees now past waking) who being requested by one of his neighbors to suffer his wife or child (that was then dead) to lye in the Church-yard, answered in a mocking sort, he keept that lodging for himselfe and his household: and within three days after was driuen to hide his head in a hole himself. Neither will I speake a word of a poore boy (seruant to a Chandler) dwelling thereabouts, who being struck to the heart by sicknes, was first caryed away by water, to be left anywhere; but landing being denyed by an army of brownebill men, that kept the shore, back againe was he brought, and left in an out-celler, where lying groueling and groaning on his face, among fagots (but not one of them set on fire to comfort him), there continued all night, and dyed miserably for want of succor. Nor of another poore wretch, in the Parish of St. Mary Oueryes, who being in the morning throwne, as the fashion is, into a graue vpon a heap of carcases, that kayd for their complement, was found in the after-noone gasping and gaping for life: but by these tricks, imagining that many thousand haue bene turned wrongfully off the ladder of life, and praying that Derick or his executors, may liue to do those a good turne, that haue done so to others: Hic finis Priami; heeres an end of an old song.

The second tract was written by one whose Christian name is surely Jeremiah. It is called Vox Civitatis.{393} It is the Lamentation of London under the Plague. The City mourns her departed merchants. "Issachar stands still for want of work." Her children are starving; her apprentices, "the children of knights and justices of the county," are rated with beggars, and buried in the highway like malefactors. As for the clergy, they did not forsake their flocks; they sent them away—all who could go—before they themselves fled. The physicians and the surgeons have fled. Yet some have remained—parsons, physicians, and surgeons. The Lord Mayor, too, remained at his post. Then he argues that no one, in whatever station, has the right to desert his post. None are useless. He declaims against the inhumanity of those who refuse shelter to a stricken man, and he calls upon those who have food to return. The whole composition is filled with pious ejaculations; it certainly is the work of some city clergyman. London is stricken for her sins; yet there is mercy in the chastisement. The author is always finding consolation in the thought that the punishment will lead to reformation. Yet the work is a cry of suffering, of pity, and of indignation. The writer does not relate, he alludes to what everybody knows; yet he makes us see the workshops closed, 'Change deserted, churches shut, all the better class fled, prentices thrust out to die in the streets, the people with no work and no money, the servants left to guard the warehouses dead; even in Cheapside not a place where one can change a purse of gold; "Watling Street like an empty Cloyster." The Plague is terrible, but it is the chastisement of the Lord. He hath taken the City into His own hands; that may be borne; the worst, the most terrible{394} thing is the desertion of the City and the people by the masters; the abandonment of those dependent upon their employers—this is the burden of the cry. To those who study the gleams and glimpses of Plague-time in these papers, the worst suffering in every time of pestilence was caused by the cessation of work and of trade. The master gone, the servants had no work and no wages—how were the children to be fed?

With one little touch of human nature the tract concludes. The writer was a scholar; he is jealous concerning his style. "If," he says, "this Declaration wants Science, or that Eloquence that might beseem me, consider my Trouble, the Absence of my Orators, the shutting up of my Libraries, so that I was content with a common Secretary." It is Vox Civitatis London that speaks; her libraries are those of St. Paul's, Zion College, Gresham College, Whittington College; the "common Secretary" is the writer. Such is his proud humility—a "common Secretary!"

Now for another twice-told tale.

The last cross had not been removed from the last infected house, the last person dead of the Plague had not been buried, before the Great Fire of London broke out and purged the plague-stricken city from end to end.

Three great fires had destroyed London before this of the year 1666, viz., in 962, in 1087, which swept away nearly the whole of the City, and in 1212, when a great part of Southwark and of the City north of the bridge was destroyed.

This fire began early in the morning of Sunday,{395} September 2d. It broke out at the house of one Farryner, a baker in Pudding Lane, Thames Street. All the houses in that lane, and, one supposes, in all the narrow lanes and courts about this part of the City, were of wood, pitched without; the lane was narrow, and the projecting stories on either side nearly met at the top. The baker's house was full of faggots and brushwood, so that the fire instantly broke out into full fury and spread four ways at once. The houses stood very thick in this, the most densely populated part of the City. In the narrow lanes north and south of Thames Street lived those who made their living as stevedores, watermen, porters, carriers, and so forth; in Thames Street itself, on either side, were warehouses filled with oil, pitch, and tar, wine, brandy, and such inflammable things, so that by six o'clock on Sunday morning all Fish Street was in flames, and the fire spreading so fast that the people barely had time to remove their goods. As it drew near to a house they hurriedly loaded a cart with the more valuable effects and carried them off to another house farther away, and then to another, and yet another. Some placed their goods in churches for safety, as if the flames would respect a consecrated building. The booksellers, for instance, of Paternoster Row carried all their books into the crypt of St. Paul's, thinking that there, at least, would be a safe place, if any in the whole world. Who could look at those strong stone pillars with the strong arched roof and suspect that the stones would crumble like sand beneath the fierce heat which was playing upon them? All that Sunday was spent in moving goods out of houses before the flames caught them; the river was covered{396} with barges and lighters laden with furniture. Pepys watched the fire from Bankside. "We stayed till, it being darkish, we saw the fire as only one entire arch of fire from this to the other side of the bridge, and in a bow up the hill for an arch of above a mile long; it made me weep to see it. The churches, houses, and{397} all on fire and flaming at once; and a horrid noise the flames made, and the crackling of houses at their ruin." On Monday morning Pepys puts his bags of gold and his plate into a cart with all his best things, and drove off to Sir William Rider's, at Bethnal Green. His friend, Sir W. Batten, not knowing how to move his wine, dug a pit in his garden and put it there. In this pit, also, Pepys placed the papers of the Admiralty.


On Wednesday he walked into the town over the hot ashes. Fenchurch Street, Gracechurch Street, Lombard Street, Cheapside, he found in dust. Of the Exchange nothing standing of all the statues but that of Sir Thomas Gresham—a strange survival. On Saturday he went to see the ruins of St. Paul's: "A miserable sight; all the roofs fallen, and the body of the Quire fallen into St. Faith's; Paul's school, also Ludgate and Fleet Street."

The fire was stayed at length by blowing up houses at the Temple Church, at Pie Corner, Smithfield (where the figure of a boy still stands to commemorate the fact), at Aldersgate, Cripplegate, and the upper part of Bishopsgate Street. It had consumed five-sixths of the City, together with a great piece beyond the western gates. It had covered an area of 436 acres, viz., 387 acres within the walls, and 73 without; it had destroyed 132,000 dwelling-houses, St. Paul's Cathedral, eighty-nine parish churches, four of the City gates, Sion College, the Royal Exchange, the old Grey Friars Church, the Chapel of St. Thomas of Acon, and an immense number of great houses, schools, prisons, and hospitals. The area covered, roughly speaking, an oblong nearly a mile and a half{398} in length by half a mile in breadth. The value of the property destroyed was estimated at £10,000,000. There is no such fire of any great city on record, unless it is the burning of Rome under Nero.


Their city being thus destroyed, the citizens lost no time, but set to work manfully to rebuild it. The rebuilding of London is a subject of some obscurity. One thing is quite certain: that as soon as the embers were cool enough to enable the people to walk among them, they returned, and began to find out the sites of their former houses. It is also certain that it took more than two years to clear away the tottering walls and the ruins.

It was at first proposed to build again on a new plan; Sir Christopher Wren prepared one plan, and Sir John Evelyn another. Both plans were excellent, symmetrical and convenient. Had either been adopted, the City of London would have been as artificial and as regular as a new American town, or the City of Turin. Very happily, while the Lord Mayor and aldermen{399} were considering the matter, the people had already begun to build. A most fortunate thing it was that the City rose again on its old lines, with its winding streets and narrow lanes. At first the houseless people, 200,000 in number, camped out in Moorfields, just north of the City. Very happily, these fields, which had long been a swamp or fen intersected by ditches, a place of pasture, kennels, and windmills, had been drained by the City in 1606, and were now laid out in pleasant walks, a place of resort for summer evenings, a wrestling and cudgel playing-ground, and a ground for the muster of the militia. Here they set up tents and cottages; here they presently began to build two-storied houses of brick.

As they had no churches, they set up "tabernacles," whether on the site of the old churches or in Moorfields does not appear. As they had no Exchange, they used Gresham College for the purpose; the same place did duty for the Guildhall; the Excise Office was removed to Southampton Fields, near Bedford House; the General Post-office was taken to Brydges Street, Covent Garden; the Custom-house to Mark Lane; Doctors' Commons to Exeter House, Strand. The part of the town wanted for the shipping and foreign trade was first put up. And thus the town, in broken-winged fashion, renewed its old life.

On September 18th the Houses of Parliament created a Court of Judicature for settling the differences which were sure to arise between landlord and tenants, and between owners of land, as to boundaries and other things. The Justices of the Court of King's Bench and Common Pleas, with the Barons of the Exchequer, were the judges of the Court. So much{400} satisfaction did they give that the grateful City caused their portraits to be placed in Guildhall, where, I believe, they may be seen to this day.

In order to enable the churches, prisons, and public buildings to be rebuilt, a duty was laid upon coals. This duty was also to enable the City to enlarge the streets, take over ground for quays, and other useful purposes. Nothing, however, seems to have been granted for the rebuilding of private houses.

The building of the churches took a long time to accomplish. The first to be completed was that of St. Dunstan's in the East, the tower of which is Sir Christopher Wren's; the body of the church, which has since been pulled down, was by another hand. That was built two years after the Fire. Six years after the Fire another church was finished; seven years after three more; eight years after three more; ten years after five, and so on, dragging along until the last two of those rebuilt—for a great many were not put up again—were finished in the year 1697, thirty-one years after the Fire.


Within four years the rebuilding of the City was nearly completed. Ten thousand houses were built, a great many companies' halls, and nearly twenty churches. One who writes in the year 1690 (Angliæ Metropolis, or, The Present State of London) says, "As if the Fire had only purged the City, the buildings are infinitely more beautiful, more commodious, more solid (the three main virtues of all edifices) than before. They have made their streets much more large and straight, paved on each side with smooth hewn stone, and guarded the same with many massy posts for the benefit of foot-passengers; and whereas before they{401} dwelt in low, dark, wooden houses, they now live in lofty, lightsome, uniform, and very stately brick buildings." This is great gain. And yet, looking at the houses outside Staple Inn and at the old pictures, at what loss of picturesqueness was this gain acquired? The records are nearly silent as to the way in which the people were affected by the Fire. It is certain, however, that where the Plague ruined hundreds of families, the Fire ruined thousands. Thirteen thousand houses were burned down; many of these were houses harboring two or three families, for 200,000 were rendered homeless. Some of them were families of the lower working class, the river-side laborers and watermen, who would suffer little more than temporary inconvenience, and the loss of their humble "sticks."{402} But many of them were substantial merchants, their warehouses filled with wine, oil, stuffs, spices, and all kinds of merchandise; warehouses and contents all gone—swept clean away—and with them the whole fortune of the trader. And there were the retailers, whose stock in trade, now consumed, represented all they had in the world. And there were the master-workmen, their workshops fitted with such machinery and tools as belonged to their craft and the materials for their work—all gone—all destroyed. Where was the money found to replace these treasures of imported goods? Who could refurnish his shop for the draper? Who could rebuild and fill his warehouse for the merchant? Who could give back his books to the bookseller? No one—the stock was all gone.

The prisoners for debt, as well as those who were imprisoned for crime, regained their freedom when the prisons were burned down. Could the debts be proved against them when the papers were all destroyed?

The tenant whose rent was in arrears was safe, for who could prove that he had not paid?

All debts were wiped clean off the slate. There were no more mortgages, no more promissory bills to meet, no more drafts of honor. Debts as well as property were all destroyed together. The money-lender and the borrower were destroyed together. The schools were closed—for how long? The almshouses were burned down—what became of the poor old bedesmen and bedeswomen? The City charities were suspended—what became of the poor? The houses were destroyed—what became of rents and tithes and taxes?{403}


The Fire is out at last; the rain has quenched the last sparks; the embers have ceased to smoke; those walls which have not fallen totter and hang trembling ready to fall. I see men standing about singly; the tears run down their cheeks; two hundred years ago, if we had anything to cry about, we were not ashamed to cry without restraint; they are dressed in broadcloth, the ruffles are of lace, they look like reputable citizens. Listen—one draws near another. "Neighbor," he says, "a fortnight ago, before this stroke, whether of God or of Papist, I had a fair shop on this spot." "And I also, good friend," said the other, "as you know." "My shop," continued the first, "was stocked with silks and satins, kid gloves, lace ruffles and neckties, shirts, and all that a gentleman or a gentlewoman can ask for. The stock was worth a thousand pounds. I turned it over six or seven times a year at least. And my profit was four hundred{404} pounds." "As for me," said the other, "I was in a smaller way, as you know. Yet such as it was, my fortune was all in it, and out of my takings I could call two hundred pounds a year my own." "Now is it all gone," said the first. "All gone," the other repeated, fetching a sigh. "And now, neighbor, unless the company help, I see nothing for it but we must starve." "Must starve," the other repeated. And so they separated, and went divers ways, and whether they starved or whether they received help, and rose from the ashes with new house and newly stocked shop, I know not. Says Dryden on the Fire:

"Those who have homes, when home they do repair
To a last lodging call their wandering friends:
Their short uneasy sleeps are broke with care
To look how near their own destruction tends.
"Those who have none sit round where it was
And with full eyes each wonted room require:
Haunting the yet warm ashes of the place,
As murdered men walk where they did expire.
"The most in fields like herded beasts lie down,
To dews obnoxious on the grassy floor:
And while their babes in sleep their sorrow drown,
Sad parents watch the remnant of their store."

I think there must have been a return for a while to a primitive state of barter and exchange. Not quite, because every man carried out of the Fire such money as he had. Pepys, for instance, placed his bags of gold in a cart and drove it himself, "in my night gown," to a friend at rural Bethnal Green. But there could have been very little money in comparison with the millions invested in the merchandise destroyed.{405}



The most pressing want was food. The better sort had money enough for present needs, the poorer class had to be maintained. The corporation set thousands to work clearing rubbish, carting it way, pulling down the shaky walls, and throwing open the streets. When the quays were cleared, the business of the port was resumed. Then the houses and the shops began to rise. The former were built on credit, and the latter stocked on credit. Very likely the companies or the corporation itself became to a large extent security, advancing money to the builders and making easy terms about rent. Naturally, it was a time of enormous activity, every trader making up for lost time, and especially such trades as concerned the building, furnishing, or fitting of houses—a time of good wages and constant work. Indeed, it is stated that the prosperity of the West Country cloth-making business was never so great as during the years following the Fire, which had destroyed such a prodigious quantity of material. The City in time resumed its old aspect; the ruined thousands had sunk out of sight; and nothing could replace the millions that had been lost.

The manners of the City differed little in essentials from those of Queen Elizabeth's time. Let us note, however, two or three points, still keeping the unspeakable court out of sight, and confining ourselves as much as possible to the City. Here are a few notes which must not be taken as a finished picture of the time.

It was a great time for drinking. Even grave divines drank large quantities of wine. Pepys is constantly getting "foxed" with drink; on one occasion he is{408} afraid of reading evening prayers lest the servants should discover his condition. Of course they did discover it, and went to bed giggling; but as they kept no diary the world never learned it. London drank freely. Pepys tells how one lady, dining at Sir W. Bullen's, drank at one draught a pint and a half of white wine. They all went to church a great deal, and had fast days on every occasion of doubt and difficulty; on the first Sunday in the year the longest Psalm in the book (I suppose the 119th) was given out after the sermon. This took an hour to say or sing, and all the while the sexton went about the church making a collection. On Valentine's Day the married men took each other's wives for valentines. Public wrestling matches were held, followed by bouts with the cudgels.

They still carried on the sport of bull and bear baiting, and on one occasion they baited a savage horse to death. That is, they attempted it, but he drove off all the dogs, and the people insisting on his death, they stabbed him to death. The King issued two patents for theatres, one to Henry Killigrew, at Drury Lane, whose company called themselves The King's Servants; the other to Sir William Davenant, of Dorset Gardens, whose company was The Duke's Servants. There were still some notable superstitions left. These are illustrated by the remedies advertised for the plague and other diseases. A spider, for instance, placed in a nutshell and wrapped in silk will cure ague. They believed in the malignant influence of the planets. One evening at a dancing house half a dozen boys and girls were taken suddenly ill. Probably they had swallowed some poisonous stuff. They were supposed{409} to be planet-struck. And, of course, they believed in astrology and in chiromancy, the latter of which has again come into fashion.

Saturday was the day of duns. Creditors then went about collecting their money. In the autumn the merchants rode out into the country and looked after their country customers.

The social fabric of the time cannot be understood without remembering that certain nominal distinctions of our generation were then real things, and gave a man consideration. Thus, there were no peers left living in the City. But there were a few baronets and many knights. After them in order came esquires, gentlemen, and commoners. Those were entitled to the title of esquire who were gentlemen of good estate, not otherwise dignified, counsellors-at-law, physicians and holders of the King's commission. Everybody remembers Pepys's delight at being for the first time, then newly made Secretary to the Admiralty, addressed as esquire, and his irrepressible pride at being followed into church by a page. A younger brother could call himself a gentleman, and this, I take it, whether he was in trade or not. About this time, however, younger sons began leaving off going to the City and embarking in trade, and that separation of the aristocracy from the trade of the country, which made the former a distinct caste and has lasted almost until the present day, first began. It is now, however, so far as one can perceive the signs of the times, fast disappearing. The younger son, in fact, began to enter the army, the navy, or the Church. From the middle of the seventeenth century till the battle of Waterloo, war in Europe was almost continuous.{410} A gentleman could offer his sword anywhere and was accepted. There were English gentlemen in the service of Austria, Russia, Sweden—even in that of France or Spain. Unfortunately, however, in this country we generally had need of all the gentlemen we could find to command our own armies. The title of gentleman was also conceded to attorneys, notaries, proctors, and other lesser degrees of the law; merchants, surgeons, tradesmen, authors, artists, architects, and the like, had then, and have now, no rank of any kind in consideration of their employments.

Tea, which at the Restoration was quite beyond the means of private persons, became rapidly cheaper and in daily use among the better class in London, though not in the country. Thus, in Congreve's "Way of the World," Mrs. Millamant claims to be "Sole Empress of my tea-table." Her lover readily consents to her drinking tea if she agrees to a stipulation which shows that the love of tea was as yet more fashionable than real, since it could be combined with that of strong drinks. He says that he must banish from her table "foreign forces, auxiliaries to the tea-table, such as orange brandy, aniseed, cinnamon, citron, and Barbadoes water, together with ratafia and the most noble spirit of clary."

The favorite places of resort in the City were the galleries of the Royal Exchange, filled with shops for the sale of gloves, ribbons, laces, fans, scent, and such things. The shops were kept by young women who, like the modern bar-maid, added the attraction of a pretty face to the beauty of their wares. The piazza of Covent Garden was another favorite place, but this,{411} with Spring Gardens, Vauxhall, was outside the City. The old desecration of Paul's was to a great extent stopped by the erection of the West Porch, designed for those who met here for purposes of business.


Coffee-houses were first set up at this time, and at once became indispensable to the citizens, who before had had no other place of evening resort than the tavern. The City houses were "Dick's" and the "Rainbow," in Fleet Street; "Tom's," of Birchin Lane (not to speak of the more classic "Tom's," of Covent Garden). Nearly all the old inns of the City have now{412} been destroyed. Fifty years ago many were still standing, with their galleries and their open courts. Such were the "Bell," of Warwick Lane; the "Belle Sauvage," of Ludgate Hill; the "Blossom," Laurence Lane; the "Black Lion," Whitefriars Street; the "Four Swans," Bishopsgate Street; the "Saracen's Head," Friday Street, and many others.

It is, I suppose, pretty clear that the songs collected by Tom d'Urfey are a fair representation of the delectable and edifying ditties sung in taverns, and when the society was "mixed." It would be easy to preach against the wickedness of the times which could permit the singing of such songs, but in reality they are no worse than the songs of the preceding generation, to which, indeed, many of them belong. And, besides, it does not appear that the better sort of people regaled themselves with this kind of song at all, and even in this collection there are a great many which are really beautiful. The following pretty lines are taken almost at random from one of the volumes of the Pills to Purge Melancholy. They are called a "Description of Chloris:"

"Have you e'er seen the morning Sun
From fair Aurora's bosom run?
Or have you seen on Flora's bed
The essences of white and red?
Then you may boast, for you have seen
My fairer Chloris, Beauty's Queen.
"Have you e'er pleas'd your skilful ears
With the sweet music of the Spheres?
Have you e'er heard the Syrens sing,
Or Orpheus play to Hell's black King?
If so, be happy and rejoyce,
For thou hast heard my Chloris' Voice.
"Have you e'er tasted what the Bee
Steals from each fragrant flower or tree?
Or did you ever taste that meat
Which poets say the Gods did eat?
O then I will no longer doubt
But you have found my Chloris out."

Many of the poems are patriotic battle-pieces; some present the shepherd in the usual fashion as consumed by the ardor of his love, being wishing and pining, sighing and weeping. That seeming extravagance of passion—that talk of flames and darts—was not entirely conventional:

"How charming Phillis is, how fair!
O that she were as willing
To ease my wounded heart of care,
And make her eyes less killing!"

It was not only exaggeration. I am quite certain that men and women were far less self-governed formerly than now: when, for instance, they were in love, they were much more in love than now. The passion possessed them and transported them and inflamed them. Their pangs of jealousy tore them to pieces; they must get their mistress or they will go mad. Nay, it is only of late—say during the last hundred years—that we have learned to restrain passions of any kind. Love, jealousy, envy, hatred, were far fiercer emotions under the Second Charles—nay, even under the Second George—than they are with us. Anger was far more common. It does not seem as if men and women, especially of the lower classes, ever attempted in the least to restrain their passions. To be sure they could at once have it out in a fight—a thing which excuses{414} wrath. To inquire into the causes of the universal softening of manners would take us too far. But we may note as a certain fact that passions are more restrained and not so overwhelming: that love is milder, wrath more governed, and that manners are softened for us.

One must not, again, charge the City at this time with being more than commonly pestered by rogues. The revelations of the Elizabethan moralists, and the glimpses we get of mediæval rogues, forbid this accusation. At the same time there was a good standing mass of solid wickedness. Contemporary literature proves this, if any proof were wanted, abundantly. There is a work of some literary value called the Life of Meriton Latroon, in which is set forth an immense quantity of rogueries. Among other things the writer shows the tricks of trade, placing his characters in many kinds of shops, so as to give his experiences in each. We are thus enabled to perceive that there were sharpers and cheats in respectable-looking shops then, as now. And there seems no reason to believe that the cheats were in greater proportion to the honest men than they are now. Besides the tricks of the masters, the honest Meriton Latroon shows us the ways of the London prentice, which were highly promising for the future of the City. He robbed his master as much as he dared: he robbed him of money; he robbed him of stuffs and goods; he ruined the maids; he belonged to a club which met on Saturday nights, when the master was at his country-box, and exchanged, for the common good, the robberies of the week. After this they feasted and drank with young Bona Robas, who stole from them the money they had{415} stolen from their shops. It is a beautiful picture, and would by some moralists be set down to the evil example of King Charles, who is generally held responsible for the whole of the wickedness of the people during his reign. But these prentices knew nothing of the court, and the thing had been going on all through the Protectorate, and, for that matter, I dare say as far back as the original institution of apprenticeship. One would fain hope that not all the City apprentices belonged to this club. Otherwise, one thinks that the burning of London ought to have been the end of London.

The worst vice of the age seems to have been gambling, which was as prevalent in the City as at the court; that is to say, one does not accuse sober merchants of gambling, but in every tavern there were cards and dice, and they were in use all day long. Now, wherever there is gambling there are thieves, sharpers, and cheats by profession, and in every age these gentry enjoy their special names, whether of opprobrium or of endearment. They were then called Huffs, Rooks, Pads, Pimpinios, Philo Puttonists, Ruffins, Shabbaroons, Rufflers, and other endearing terms—not that the number of the names proves the extent of the evil. Whatever they were called, the whole object of their lives—their only way of living—was to trick, extort, or coax money out of flats. Very often they were gentlemen by birth, younger sons of good families, who scorned any honest way of making their living. By their good manners, fashionable appearance, pleasing address, and known connections they often succeeded in getting hold of unsuspecting gentlemen from the country. It is the old, old story.{416} Captain Hawk is always on the lookout for Master Pigeon, and too often catches him. The story that Thackeray has told belongs not to one period, but to all. Of course there was the lower class of rogues: the sturdy beggar, the man who cannot work because he has in his blood the taint of whole generations of idleness; the nomad, who would die unless he were always roving about the country; the outcast, who delights in pitting his wits against the law. A few of these I have chosen from the long lists. They are as follows:

The "Ruffler," who pretended to be an old soldier of Naseby or Marston Moor.

The "Angler," who carried a stick with a hook at the end of it, and found it useful when the window was left open.

The "Wild Rogue," used for boys and girls, children of thieves, who made a good living for their parents by hanging about the doors of crowded churches, and cutting off gold buttons from the coats of the merchants.

The "Clapperdozen," a woman who begged about the streets with stolen children.

The "Abram Man," a sham madman.

The "Whip Jack," a counterfeit sailor who pretended to be shipwrecked.

The "Mumpus," who pretended to be a decayed merchant or a sequestered clergyman.

The "Dommerer," who shammed dumb.

Let us turn from general statements to the consideration of a single family. That of Samuel Pepys might be taken as an example, and his Journal is by no means well-trodden and familiar ground. In fact, he{417} is generally read in bits, for half an hour's amusement. Yet it is better to take a case not before the public at all. Besides, even a minute diary such as that of Pepys, kept day by day, leaves, when you come to construct the daily life out of it, great gaps here and there. Less literary documents may sometimes yield richer results. Even the most careful diarist scorns to speak of details. For them we must look into the humble papers of the household. For instance, I have before me a bundle of documents on which I lighted by accident, containing the household accounts of a respectable family for the years 1677-1679, and I propose by means of these accounts to reproduce the household daily life of a bourgeois well-to-do family of the time.

This family consisted of the master, the mistress, and "Mr. Arthur," who was probably the master's brother. The two former were at this time a young married couple, whose joys and anxieties are presently increased by the arrival of a baby. Their residence is a short distance from London, and their way of life may be taken to illustrate that of the general run of London citizens. The occupation of the master is not stated, but he appears to be a man following no profession or trade: perhaps a gentleman with a small estate. They seem to have kept no horses, so that their means were certainly narrow. Their nearest market-town was Hertford, whither they went by coach (fare one shilling) to buy what they wanted. Their house-keeping was conducted with an eye to economy, yet there is no stint, and occasionally there occurs an entry—quite inexplicable—of wild extravagance. They lived in the country, about fifteen miles from London, and{418} presumably had a garden, yet they did not grow enough vegetables, herbs, and fruit for their own consumption. The household consisted, besides the family and the nurse, of a cook, two maids, and a gardener, or man of all work. The accounts are partly kept by the mistress and partly by a servant—perhaps a house-keeper. Remembering that Pepys consented to receive his sister "Pall" into his house only on the footing of a servant, the keeper of the accounts may very well have been a poor relation.

The rent of the house was £26 a year. It contained two sitting-rooms and four bedrooms, with a kitchen. The parlor, or best sitting-room, was hung with five pieces of fine tapestry; the other sitting-room with gray linsey-woolsey and gilt leather; the bedrooms had hangings of striped cloth. Curtains of green cloth with a green carpet decorated the parlor; the other rooms had green, say, or "sad color" striped curtains. The best bedroom contained a magnificent "wrought"—i.e., carved—bedstead with a canopy, curtains, a valance, and chairs all of the same material. There were three other bedrooms, one for Mr. Arthur, one for the nurse and the baby, unless they slept at the foot of the big bed, and one for the maids. The gardener slept out of the house. The furniture of the parlor consisted of one central table—the dining-table—a table with a drawer, a cupboard, a clock case, a leather chair, a plush chair, six green cloth chairs, and two green stools. The carpet and curtains have been already mentioned; there were no pictures, no cabinets, no book-shelves, no mirrors, no sofas. The other room was more simply furnished with a Spanish table, a plain table, and a few chairs. Two of the bedrooms{419} had looking-glasses, and there was a very generous provision of feather-beds, bolsters, pillows, and blankets, which speaks of comfort for the night.

The inventory of the kitchen furniture is, unfortunately, incomplete. There is no mention at all made of any china-ware. Yet porcelain was by this time in common use. It was made at Bow and at Chelsea. In middle-class houses the master and mistress used it at table, while servants and children still had pewter or even wooden platters. The inventory speaks of porringers, doubtless of wood, of pewter candlesticks—there are no brass candlesticks—of a three-pint pewter pot, of a great and little bowl—for possets and hot spiced ale—and of wooden platters. Nothing is said of silver; there are no silver cups—in the century before this no respectable householder was without one silver mazer at least; there are no silver candlesticks; there is no mention of forks. Now the two-pronged fork of steel was made in Sheffield certainly in the middle of the century. It would be curious if the ordinary household still kept up the old fashion of eating without forks so late as 1677.

Such was the equipment of the house, one sitting-room, and one bedroom handsomely, the rest plainly, furnished.

The first thing which strikes one in the accounts is the enormous consumption of beer. The household drank two kilderkins, or thirty-six gallons, of beer every week! One hundred and forty-four quarts a week! Twenty-one quarts a day! It means nearly three quarts a head. This seems impossible. There must have been some external assistance. Perhaps the master had some kind of farm, or employed other{420} servants. But it is not really impossible. We must remember that there was no tea, that people would not drink water if they could get anything else, and that small beer was the national beverage, taken with every meal, and between meals, and that the allowance was practically à discretion. It was certainly quite possible, and even common, for a man to drink three quarts a day. A hundred years later Benjamin Franklin describes the daily beer-drinking in a London printing-house. The men took a pint before breakfast, a pint with breakfast, a pint between breakfast and dinner, a pint at dinner, a pint at six, and a pint when work was knocked off. This makes three quarts, without counting any beer that might be taken in the evening. In the well-known and often-quoted account of Mr. Hastings (Hutchin's History of Dorsetshire), who lived over a hundred years, it is recorded of him that he would take his glass or two of wine or strong ale at dinner, but that he always had beside him his great "tun-glass" filled with small beer, which he stirred with rosemary. But, even if the men drank three quarts a day, the women could not.

In addition to the small beer, which cost threepence a gallon, there are continual entries of ale at twopence a quart. This was bought at the tavern. There were many kinds of ale, as cock ale, college ale, wormwood ale, sage ale, and scurvy-grass ale, some of them medicated, to be taken at certain seasons of the year. There was also wine, but not much. Occasionally they bought a cask—a tierce of forty-two gallons—and bottled it at home. The kind of wine is not stated. Sometimes they send out to the nearest tavern for a bottle, and it cost a shilling.{421}

The accounts seem to set down everything wanted for the conduct of a house; every week, however, there is an unexplained item, called "cook's bill." This, I think, is the separate account of the servants' table. The "cook's bill" amounts every week to a good sum, a little above or a little below a pound. Perhaps it contained the wages as well as the board. The amount of food entered certainly does not seem enough for the servants as well as the family.

During the winter they bought no fresh beef at all. In November they bought great pieces, thirty, forty, even seventy pounds at a time. This was for the pickling-tub. Boiled beef played a great part in the winter's dinners. If they drank enormous quantities of beer they managed with very little bread. I find that, taking ten consecutive weeks, they spent no more than eight shillings upon bread. The price of wheat was then subject to very great variations. For example:

In the year1675it was£34s.8d.the quarter.

In other words, it was dearer in 1678 than it is in 1890, and that when the purchasing power of money was four times what it is now. Now it may be reckoned that in a house where there are children the average consumption of bread is at this day ten pounds weight a head. In this household of seven the average consumption was no more than eight pounds altogether. Setting aside the servants, the family had no more than two pounds of bread apiece{422} every week, or four and a half ounces a day, which is one slice not too thick. Oat cake, however, they used in good quantity, so that the bread would be considered as a luxury.

The old vice of the English in eating vast quantities of meat to very little bread or vegetable could no longer be a reproach to them. By this time there was abundance of vegetables of every kind. We are especially told that in the serving of the boiled beef great quantities of vegetables, carrots, parsnips, cauliflowers, cabbage, spinach, beans, peas, etc., were served with it, and so also with other meat. There is no mention of potatoes, though one had always thought that they were firmly established in the country by this time. Their own garden was not able to furnish them with enough fruit or vegetables, which they have to buy constantly. They also buy nosegays in the summer.

The prices of things in the time of Charles the Second, may be found interesting. In considering them, remember, as stated above, that the general purchasing power of money was then four times that of the present time. A leg of mutton generally costs two-and-sixpence; a shoulder, two shillings; a hand of pork, eighteenpence; "a cheese"—they had one every week, but it is not stated how much it weighed—varies from one-and-twopence to one-and-eightpence. Butter is eight or nine pence a pound; they used about a pound a week. Sugar is sixpence a pound. They bought their flour by sixpennyworths, and their coals in small quantities for eighteenpence each week during the winter, so that their fires must have been principally kept going with wood. Once a month the washer-woman{423} is called in, and sheets are washed; therefore, the washing was all done at home. Raisins and currants at twopence a pound, eggs, nutmegs, ginger, mace, rice, suet, etc., proclaim the pudding. It was made in fifty different ways, but the ingredients were always the same, and in this family they evidently had pudding every day. Cakes, also, they had, and pies, both fruit pies and meat pies, and open tarts. These were all sent to the bake-house to be baked at one penny each, so that the kitchen contained no oven. Candles were fivepence a pound, but the entries of candles are so irregular that one suspects the accounts to be imperfect. Herrings were bought nearly every week, and sometimes ling—"a pole of ling." Bacon was sevenpence a pound. Rice was also sevenpence a pound. Oranges came in about December; cherries in their season were twopence a pound; gooseberries, fourpence, sold, I suppose, by the measure; pease, sixpence a peck; beans, fourpence a quart; asparagus ("sparragrasse") was in April excessively dear—we find them giving six shillings and twopence, a most extravagant expenditure for a single dish; two weeks later it has gone down to eighteenpence for two hundred. But how could so careful a housewife spend six and twopence on a single dish? A "sallet"—that is, a lettuce—is one penny. Once in six weeks or so we find mention of "earbs"—that is, thyme, sage, rosemary, etc.—for twopence. "Cowcumbers" are a penny apiece, and a favorite vegetable. Radishes, carrots, turnips, French beans are also bought. In the spring cream-cheese appears. Sweet brier is bought every year, one knows not for what, and roses by the bushel, evidently for rose-water. This is the only allusion to the{424} still-room, which undoubtedly formed part of the ménage. Nothing is said of preserved fruits, home-made wines, distilled waters, or pickles, which then formed a great part of house-keeping. They pickled everything: walnuts, gherkins, asparagus, peaches, cauliflowers, plums, nectarines, onions, lemons, barberries, mushrooms, nasturtium buds, lime-tree buds, oysters, samphire, elder roots. They distilled rose-buds and rose-leaves, lavender, walnut-water, and cherry-water. They always had plague-water handy, hysterical-water, and other sovereign remedies. They "jarred" cherries, quinces, hops, apricots, damsons, and peaches. They made syrups in many pleasing varieties. They knew how to keep green pease, green gooseberries, asparagus, and damsons till Christmas. They made wine out of all the fruits in their season; the art still survives, though the club-man of the town turns up his nose at the delicate cowslip, the robust ginger, and the dainty raspberry—a dessert wine. They potted everything, from pigeon to venison. Nothing is said of these things in the account-books. But the large quantity of vinegar bought every week shows the activity of the pickling department. Only once is there any appearance of spirits. It is when a bottle of brandy is bought, at one shilling and twopence. Perhaps that was used to fortify the raspberry and the currant wines. Very little milk is bought. Sometimes for many months there is no mention of milk. This may have been because their own dairy supplied them. Perhaps, however, milk was only occasionally used in the house. The food of very young children, infants after they were weaned, was not then milk but pap, which I suppose to have been some{425} compound of flour and sugar. There is no mention in the accounts at all of tea, coffee, or chocolate. Tea was already a fashionable drink, but at this time it was sixty shillings a pound—a price which placed it quite beyond the reach of the ordinary household. Coffee was much cheaper; at the coffee-houses it was sold at a penny a cup, but it had not yet got into private houses.

Turning to other things besides food. Schooling "for E. J." was twopence a week. His shoes were one shilling and ninepence the pair. The cobbler who made them was Goodman Archer; Goody Archer was his wife. A letter cost twopence or fourpence; everything bought or ordered was brought by the carrier, which greatly increased the expense; a lady's gloves cost two shillings a pair; her silk stockings, ten shillings, and ordinary stockings, six shillings a pair; her shoes, three shillings; her mask, one shilling; her pattens for muddy weather were two shillings a pair; her knitting-needles cost a penny apiece; her steel bodkin, twopence; her needles, eightpence the half-hundred; her pins, ninepence a thousand; her ribbons, threepence a yard. As for the little things required for the house, they were far dearer than now, considering especially the value of money. For instance, a mop cost a shilling; a pitcher, fivepence; glasses, one shilling and eightpence each; an earthenware pan, fourpence; a broom, sixpence; a mustard-pot, one shilling and sixpence; a padlock, tenpence; a mouse-trap, tenpence; eleven shillings were given for a pair of candlesticks, probably of brass. Holland was two shillings a yard; a "newsbook" cost a penny. On one occasion—only once—it is recorded that the family bought a book.{426} Only one, and then it was so expensive that they could never afford to buy another. This is the entry: "Paid a gentleman for a book, £3 10s. 0d." What book, one asks in wonder, could be worth seventy shillings in the year 1678—that is, about £15 of present money—to a man who was neither a scholar nor a collector?

The servants were up and took their breakfast at six in the winter and at five in the summer. The family breakfasted at eight. They had, for the most part, cold meat and beer with oat-cake. Pepys tells us of a breakfast of cold turkey-pie and goose—imagine a poor, weak creature of this generation making a breakfast of turkey-pie and goose, or of goose alone, with small beer! At another time he had bread and butter, sweetmeats, and strong drinks. And on another occasion he sat down to a table spread with oysters, anchovies, and neats' tongues, with wine "of all sort."

At two o'clock dinner was served. If it was boiled-beef day, the broth was served in porringers, bread or oat-cake being crumbled into it with herbs. When it was not boiled-beef day, they had fresh meat or poultry (the latter only seldom), and, in season, what are called in the accounts "pateridges"—it really matters little how a bird is spelled, provided it is well cooked and ready to be eaten. The invariable rule of the house was to have two joints a week, mutton, veal, pork, or poultry. This provided four dinners, or perhaps five. The other two or three dinners were consecrated to boiled beef. Calf's head and bacon was (deservedly) a favorite dish; they did not disdain tripe; black puddings were regarded with affection;{427} a hog's cheek was reckoned a toothsome kickshaw; anchovies, prawns, and lobsters are also mentioned with commendation. On most days they had a pudding—the good old English pudding, boiled or baked, with raisins and "currance" in it, flour, eggs, butter, sugar, nutmeg, mace, ginger, suet, and sometimes milk—a famous pudding of which no one was ever tired.

The menu of a dinner where there was company is preserved in Pepys. Everything was served at once. They had marrow-bones, a leg of mutton, three pullets, and a dozen larks in one dish, a tart, a neat's tongue, anchovies, and a dish of prawns, and cheese. This was for thirteen persons.

The dishes were served in pewter, as they are still for the students in the hall of Lincoln's Inn. The supper, of which very little is said, was like the breakfast, but not quite so solid. Cheese played a large part in the supper, and in summer "a sallet"—cost, one penny—or a dish of "redishes" helped out the cold meat. After supper a cool tankard of ale—not small beer—stood within the master's reach while he took his pipe of tobacco. In the winter there was a posset or a toasted crab in the jug.

One is sorry to part with this interesting family, but, unfortunately, further information is lacking; I could give the inventory of the master's linen and that of his wife, but these details want general interest. So they disappear, the master, the mistress, Mr. Arthur, and the baby. Let us hope that they all enjoyed a long life and prospered exceedingly. After pondering so long over their account-books, one seems to know them so well. They have become personal{428} friends. They sit on the green cloth chairs in the room with the green carpet and the green curtains and the fine tapestry. The chairs are high and straight in the back. Madam has her knitting in her lap. The master and Mr. Arthur sit on opposite sides of the fire, their heads adorned with beautiful flowing perriwigs of brown hair, their own color, which they have curled every week at an expense of twopence. They are sipping hot spiced ale and talking of last Sunday morning's sermon. They are grave and responsible people, rather fat in the cheeks because they take so little exercise and so much beer. In the window stands a row of books. Among them was Jeremy Taylor's Holy Living and Dying, Herrick's Hesperides, Baxter's Saints' Rest, Braithwaite's Arcadian Princess, Milton's Paradise Lost, the first edition in ten books; a Book of Husbandry, a Prophetical Almanack—that of Montelion—and I suppose, if we only knew it, the book for which they paid the "gentleman" £3 10s.—was it a Bible, illustrated? It is only seventeen years since the commonwealth; there are Puritans still; their talk chiefly turns on godly matters; the clamor and the scandal of the Court hardly so much as reaches their ears. The clouds roll over; they are gone. Oh, world of change and fleeting shadows! Whither do they go, the flying shadows, the ghosts, the groups and pictures of the men and women that flit before our eyes when we raise the wizard's wand and conjure up the spirits of the past?{429}



From the accession of the First to the death of the Fourth George very little change took place in the outward appearance or the customs of London and its people. Not that these kings could have had anything to do with the manners or the changes of the City. The first two Georges were Germans who understood not their chief town, and had neither love nor fear for the citizens, such as possessed the Plantagenets, the Tudors, and the Stuarts. There was little change, because the forces that produce change were working slowly. Ideas, for instance, are always changing, but the English people are slow to catch the new ideas. They were born in this country, but they were developed in France, and they produced the French Revolution. For this they were suppressed in England, only to grow and spread more rapidly underground, and to produce changes of a more stable kind than the effervescence of the First Republic.

There was little communication between town and town or between town and country. The rustic never left his native village unless he enlisted. Then he{430} never returned. The mechanic lived out his life over his work on the spot where he was born and where he was brought up. The London shopkeeper never went farther afield than Hampstead, and generally found sufficient change of air at Bagnigge Wells or in Moorfields. If wealth and trade increased, which they did by leaps and bounds, it was still on the old lines: the City jealous of its rights, the masters keeping the wealth for themselves, and the men remaining in silence and submission.

One important change may, however, be noted. The City had by this time ceased altogether to attract the younger sons of the country gentry; the old connection, therefore, between London and the counties was severed. The chief reason was that the continual wars of the century found employment and a career for all the younger sons in the services, and that the value of land went up enormously. Trade was no longer recruited from the better sort, class distinctions were deepened and more sharply defined even among the middle class: a barrister looked down upon a merchant, and would not shake hands with an attorney, while a simple clergyman would not associate with a man in business. Sydney Smith, for instance, refused to stay a night at a country-house because its owner was a banker and a tradesman. The real extent of the contempt with which trade was regarded, and the width of the breach between the court and the City, was illustrated when the corporation entertained the Queen on her accession at Guildhall, when the Lord Mayor and the corporation, the givers of the feast, were actually set down at a lower table separate from the Queen their guest! Think of that{431} other great dinner chronicled above, where the mayor entertained four kings and played cards with them after dinner!

In the picture of London just before the present age we will confine ourselves as much as possible to the life of the bourgeois. For the court, for the life of the aristocracy, the statesmen, the poets, the scholars, the artists—they are sufficiently written about elsewhere. Here we will keep as much as we can to the great mass of the London citizens who know nothing of court and noble, but are sober, hard-working, honest folk, their chief care being to pay their way, avoid bankruptcy, and amass a certain sum of money before they die; their chief subject of admiration being the man who leaves behind him a great fortune made in trade; their chief pleasures being those of the table.

First, for the extent of the City.

London in 1750 was spreading, but not yet rapidly. East and west it spread, not north and south. Eastward the City had thrown out a long arm by the river-side. St. Katherine's Precinct was crowded; streets, two or three deep, stretched along the river-bank as far as Limehouse, but no farther. These were inhabited by the people who made their living on the river. Immediately north of these streets stretched a great expanse of market-gardens and fields. Whitechapel was already a crowded suburb, filled with working-men. This was one of the quarters where the London mob was born and bred, and free from interference of clergy or rich folk. Clerkenwell, with the parts about Smithfield, was another district dear to thieves, pickpockets, and rowdies. Within its boundaries{432} the City was well and carefully ordered. Unfortunately, this order did not extend beyond the walls. Outside there were no companies, no small parishes, no rich merchants, no charities, schools, or endowments, and practically it was without churches.


On the north side, Moorfields still remained an open space; beyond lay Hoxton Fields, White Conduit Fields, Lamb's Conduit Fields, and Marylebone Fields. The suburb of Bloomsbury was beginning. A crowded suburb had sprung up north of the Strand. Westminster was a great city by itself. Southwark, now a borough with half a million people, as great as Liverpool, occupied then a little strip of marshy land not half a mile broad at its widest. East and west, to Lambeth on the one side and to Redriff on the other,{433} was a narrow strip of river-side, dotted with houses and hamlets.

The walls of the City were never formally pulled down. They disappeared bit by bit. Houses were built close to them and upon them: they were covered up. Excavations constantly bring to light some of the foundations. When a church-yard was placed against the wall, as at St. Giles's, Cripplegate, and at St. Alphege, London Wall, some portions were allowed to remain. The course of the wall is perfectly well known, and has often been mapped. It is strange, however, that the corporation should have been so careless as to make no attempt at all to preserve some portions of this most interesting monument.

The gates still stood, and were closed at sunset, until the year 1760. Then they were all pulled down, and the materials sold. Temple Bar, which was never a City gate, properly speaking, remained until the other day. The gates were, I suppose, an obstruction to traffic, yet one regrets their disappearance. They were not old, but they had a character of their own, and they preserved the memory of ancient sites. I wish they could have been preserved to this day. A statue of Queen Elizabeth, which formerly stood on the west front of Lud Gate, is, I believe, the only part of a City gate not destroyed. It is now placed on the south wall of St. Dunstan's, Fleet Street, where thousands pass by every day, regardless of this monument of London before the fire!

I have found, in a pamphlet written (1754) to advocate certain improvements in the City, glimpses of things too petty for the dignity of history, yet not without interest to one who wishes to reconstruct the{434} life of the time. For instance, the streets were not cleaned, except in certain thoroughfares; at the back of the Royal Exchange, for instance, was a scandalous accumulation of filth suffered to remain, and the posterns of the City gates were equally neglected and abused. The rubbish shot into the streets was not cleared away; think of the streets all discharging the duty of the dust-bin! Cellar doors and windows were left open carelessly; stone steps projected from the houses far across the foot-path. Where pavement had been laid down it was suffered to become broken and ruinous, and so left. Houses that had fallen down or been burned down were left unbuilt, an ugly hole in the line of the street. Sheds for shops were placed against the walls of churches, as at St. Antholin's, Budge Row, and at St. Ethelburga's, where they still remain, transformed into houses. Sheds for shops have been built out in the street before the houses in certain places. Houses rebuilt are pushed forward into the street. Live bullocks driven through the streets are a constant danger; mad dogs are another danger—why is there no tax on dogs? Beggars and vagrants swarm in every street. The common people practise habitually a profaneness of speech which is shocking. These are some of the things complained of by my pamphleteer. He next advocates certain improvements. He would establish a public Mercantile Library—we now have it at the Guildhall. He complains that the City gates have been encroached upon and defaced—six years later they were taken down. He shows us that while within the City itself there were oil-lamps set up at regular intervals in all the streets, there were none outside the Freedom. At{435} that time beyond St. Martin's le Grand, and in the district of St. Bartholomew's, the streets were left in darkness absolute. This was shortly afterwards remedied. He wants stronger and stouter men for the City watch, and would have some stationed in different parts of the City in the daytime. That, too, was done, after many years. We must consider that the old theory was that the citizens should in the daytime keep order for themselves. He asks why no wheel carriages are permitted on the north side of St. Paul's. He might ask the same question still, and the answer would be that it is a very great happiness to be able to keep one, if only one, street in London free from carts and omnibuses.


He then proceeds to propose the erection of equestrian statues in various parts of the City. This has now been accomplished, but yet we are not wholly satisfied. He would put up piazzas, porticos, and triumphal arches here and there; he would remove the bars and chains of Holborn, Smithfield, Aldersgate, Bishopsgate, and Whitechapel, and would put up stone piers with the City arms upon them. We have almost forgotten those bars and chains. He proposes a new stone bridge across the river at the mouth of Fleet Ditch. Blackfriars Bridge has been erected{436} there. It is a most instructive pamphlet, written, it is evident, by a man much in advance of his age.

The best description of London about this time is certainly Gay's "Trivia." Witness the following lines on Thames Street:

"O who that rugged street would traverse o'er,
That stretches, O Fleet Ditch, from thy black shore
To the Tow'r's moated walls? Here steams ascend
That, in mixed fumes, the wrinkled nose offend.
Where chandler's cauldrons boil; where fishy prey
Hide the wet stall, long absent from the sea;
And where the cleaver chops the heifer's spoil,
And where huge hogsheads sweat with trainy oil;
Thy breathing nostril hold: but how shall I
Pass, where in piles Carnavian cheeses lie;
Cheese, that the table's closing rites denies,
And bids me with th' unwilling chaplain, rise?"

If you were to ask any person specially interested in the Church of England—not necessarily a clergyman of that Church—which was the deadest and lowest and feeblest period in the history of the Anglican Church, he would, without the least hesitation, reply that the reign of George the Second covered that period. This is universally accepted. I think, however, that one may show, without much trouble, that this belief is not based upon inquiry into the facts of the time. The Church of George the Second did not, it is true, greatly resemble that of this generation: it had its own customs, and it had its own life. It is certain that the churches were what is commonly called "ugly"—that is to say, they were built by Wren, or were imitations of his style, and had nothing to do with Early English, or Decorated, or even Perpendicular.{437} Also, it is certain that the congregations sat in pews, each family by itself; that there were some few pews of greater dignity than others, where sat my Lord Mayor, or the aldermen, or the sheriffs, or the masters of City companies. It is also certain that all the churches had galleries; that the services were performed from a "three-decker;" that the sermon was preached in a black gown, and that the clergyman called himself a minister, and not a priest. All these things are abominations to some of us in the latter half of the nineteenth century. There were also pluralists; the poor were left very much to themselves, and the parish was not "worked" according to modern ideas. There were no mothers' meetings, no day in the country, no lectures and tea-meetings; no activity; no "working," in fact, at all. But was it quite a dead time? Let us see.

There were at that time a hundred and nine parish churches in London and Westminster. At forty-four of these there was daily service—surely this is a recognized indication of some religious activity—at one of these there were three daily services; at all of them—the whole hundred and nine—there were services every Wednesday and Friday, and on all holy days and saints' days. There were endowments for occasional sermons in nearly every church. So much of the Puritan spirit remained that the sermon was still considered the most important part of Church service; in other words, sound doctrine being then held to be essential to salvation, instruction in doctrine was considered of far greater importance than prayer or praise; a fact which quite sufficiently accounts for the slovenly character of Church services down to{438} thirty or forty years ago. The singing, observe, might be deplorable, but the sermon—the essential—was sound.

Sound doctrine. That was the one thing needful. It trampled on everything else. Of commercial morality, of the duties and responsibilities of masters towards servants, of any rights possessed by the producers either in their produce or in their government, or in their power to better their position, not one word was ever said. The same men who would gravely and earnestly and with fervent prayers discuss the meaning of a text, would take a share in a slaver bound for the Guinea Coast and Jamaica, or go out to watch the flogging of a wretch at the cart-tail, or the hanging of a poor woman for stealing a loaf of bread, without a thought that they were doing or witnessing anything but what was right and laudable. The same men would cheerfully pay their servants wages just enough to live upon and make tenfold, twentyfold profit to themselves, and think they were doing God service. So far the religious life of the century was low and feeble. But the science of morals advances; it has very little indeed to do with sound doctrine, but a great deal with human brotherhood; could we look into the middle of the next century we should perhaps shudder to discover how we ourselves will be regarded as inhuman sweaters and oppressors of the poor. Let us, therefore, cease to speak of our forefathers with contempt. They had their religion; it differed from ours; we have ours, and our grandchildren's will differ from that.

There were no Sunday-schools. These came in towards the end of the century; still there were schools{439} in almost every parish in the City. At these schools the children were instructed in the rudiments of the Christian faith. Why, the free-schools of the City, without counting the great grammar-schools of St. Paul's, Merchant Taylors', Charter House, Christ's Hospital, the Mercers', St. Olave's, and St. Saviour's, gave instruction to five thousand boys and half that number of girls. There was not a poor boy of respectable parents in the whole City, I believe, who could not receive a sound education—quite as good as he would now get at a Board School, and on Sunday he had to go to church and was duly catechised.


The theory of parish organization in the last century was very simple, yet it was effective. The parishes were small—some of them tiny in their dimensions—so{440} that, although they were densely populated, the rector or vicar knew every soul that belonged to his church. The affairs of the people—the care of the poor—were provided for by the companies. The children were taught at the free-schools or the grammar-schools. At fourteen a boy was made a prentice, and entered some livery. Once in a company, his whole life was assured. He would get regular work; he would have the wages due; he would marry; his children would be cared for as he had been. He would be looked after not by the Church—that was not the function of the Church—but by his company, in sickness and in age, as well as in time of strength and work. Every Sunday, Wednesday, Friday, and holy day there were services, with sermons; but we need not suppose that the working-man considered it his duty to flock to the week-day services. On Sunday, of course, he went, because the whole parish was expected to be in church. They did attend. Station and order were preserved within the church as without. The rich merchants and the masters sat in the most beautiful pews possible to conceive, richly carved with blazoned shields and figures in white and gold, with high backs, above which the tops of the wigs proudly nodded. These pews were gathered about the pulpit, which was itself a miracle of carved work, though perhaps it was only a box stuck onto the wall. The altar, the walls, the galleries were all adorned with wood-carvings. Under the galleries and in the aisles, on plain benches, sat the folk who worked for wages, the bedesmen and bedeswomen, and the charity children. The retail people, who kept the shops, had less eligible pews behind their betters.{441} They left the church in order, the great people first, then the lesser, and then the least. No order and rank—all to be equal—in the house of the Lord? Nonsense! How could that be allowed when He has ordained that they shall be unequal outside His house? The notion of equality in the Church is quite a modern idea. It is not yet accepted, though here and there it is tolerated. It is, in fact, revolutionary; it is subversive of rank. Are we to understand that it is as easy for a pauper to get into the kingdom of heaven as a prince? We may say so, but, my friends, no prince will ever be got to believe it.

An excellent example of a last-century church is to be seen in Thames Street. It is the Church of All Hallows the Great. The building is a square room, with no beauty except that of proportion; it is rich in wood-carvings; the pulpit, lavishly adorned with precious work, ought to belong to some great cathedral; it has got a screen of carved wood right across the church which is most beautiful. The old arrangement of the last century is still preserved; the pulpit is placed against the middle of the wall; the pews of the merchants are gathered about, while the pews of the common people are those nearest to the communion table. Formerly the latter were appropriated to the watermen's apprentices. These youths, once the hope of the Thames, sat with their backs to the table, and have left the record of their presence in their initials carved with dates on the sloping book-stand. There they are, "J. F. 1710," "B. R. 1734," with a rude carving of a ship, showing how they beguiled the tedium of the sermon. The arrangement{442} of the pews illustrates the importance in which the sermon was held. The people, as at Paul's Cross, gathered about the preacher. The modern impatience with which the sermon is received is mainly owing to the fact that we no longer feel so strongly the importance of sound doctrine; we have come to think, more or less clearly, that the future of a man cannot possibly depend upon the question whether he has at any time expressed assent or consent to certain doctrines which he is wholly incapable of understanding. We see around us so many forms of creed that we have grown careless, or tolerant, or contemptuous, or charitable concerning doctrine.

There were penalties for absence from service. A man who stayed away was liable to the censure of the Church, with a fine of one shilling for every offence. He was called upon to prove where he had been to church, because it was not thought possible that anybody should stay away from service altogether. If a person harbored in his house one who did not attend the parish church, he was liable to a fine of £20 a month; the third part of the fine being given to the informer. I do not suppose that these laws were ever rigidly enforced; otherwise the Nonconformists would have cried out oftener and louder. But their spirit remained. During the week, the parish, save for the services, was left to take care of itself. There were no visits, no concerts, no magic lanterns, no Bible classes, no missionary meeting—nothing—everybody attended to his own business. The men worked all day long; the women looked after the house all day long; in the evenings the taverns were crowded; there were clubs of all kinds; everybody took his tobacco{443} and his glass at a tavern or a club, and no harm was thought of it.

For the old people there were almshouses, and there was the bounty of the companies. And since there must be always poor people among us, there were doles in every parish. Special cases were provided for as they arose by the merchants themselves. Finally, if one was sick or dying, the clergyman went to read the office appointed for the sick; and when one died, he read the office appointed for the dead.

All this is simple and intelligible. The Church provided instruction in doctrine for old and young, forms of prayer, consolation in sickness, baptism, communion, and burial for all; some churches had charitable endowments; the rest was left to the parishioners themselves. This is not quite the modern idea of the parish, but it seems to have worked as well as our own practice. Their clergyman was a divine, and nothing more; ours undertakes the care of the poor first of all; he is the administrator of charity; he is, next, the director of schools, the organizer of amusements, the leader of athletics, the trainer of the choir, the president of musical societies, the founder of working-lad's institutes; he also reads the service at church, and he preaches a short sermon every Sunday; but the latter functions are not much regarded by his people. Their clergyman was a divine; he was therefore a scholar. Therein lies the whole difference. We have no divines now, and very few scholars among the parish clergy, or even among the bishops. Here and there one or two divines are found upon the Episcopal bench, and one or two at Oxford and Cambridge; in the parish churches, none. We do not ask for divines, or even for preachers;{444} we want organizers, administrators, athletes, and singers. And the only reason for calling the time of George the Second a dead time for the Church seems to be that its clergy were not like our own.


Let us walk abroad and view the streets. They are changed, indeed, since Stow led us from St. Andrew's Undershaft to St. Paul's. The old gabled houses are all gone, except in the narrow limits of that part spared by the fire; in their places are tall houses with large sash windows and flat façade. Within, they are wainscoted, the fashion of tapestry having completely gone out. Foot-passengers are protected by rows of posts at intervals of four or five feet. Flat paving-stones are not in general use, and those that have been laid down are small and insecure. The shops are small, and there is little pretence at displaying the goods; they have, however, all got windows in front. A single candle, or two at the most, illuminate the wares in the evening or the short afternoons of winter. A sign hangs out over every door. The drawing of St. Dunstan's in the West shows that part of Fleet Street before the paving-stones were laid down. The only pavement both for the road and the footway consisted of large, round pebbles, over which the rolling of the vehicles made the most dreadful noise. In the year 1762, however, an improvement was introduced in Westminster, followed by the City of London in 1766.{445} The roads were paved with squares of Scotch granite laid in gravel; the posts were removed; a curb was laid down; gutters provided, and the footway paved with flat stones. About the same time the corporation took down the overhanging signs, removed the City gates, covered over Fleet Ditch, and broadened numerous narrow passages. The drawing here reproduced of the Monument and the beginning of London Bridge dates between 1757 and 1766; for the houses are already down in the bridge—this was done in 1757, and the posts and signs are not yet removed from the street. The view gives an excellent idea of a London street of that time. The posts were by no means all{446} removed. The drawing of Temple Bar from Butcher Row, taken as late as 1796, in which they are still standing, shows this. It also shows the kind of houses in the lower streets. Butcher Row, though it stood in the Strand at the back of St. Clement's Church, a highly respectable quarter, was one of the most disreputable places in the whole of London—given over to crimps, flash lodging-houses, and people of the baser sort.


There are certain dangers and inconveniences in walking along the streets: the finest dress may be ruined by the carelessness of a dustman or a chimney-sweep; the custom of exposing meat on open bulkheads leads to many an irreparable stain of grease. Bullies push the peaceful passenger into the gutter—it is a great time for street swagger; barbers blow the flour into wigs at open doorways, causing violent wrath among those outside; mad bulls career up and down the streets; men quarrel, make a ring, and fight it out before the traffic can go on; pickpockets are both numerous and dexterous; footpads abound in the open squares of Lincoln's Inn, Bloomsbury, and Portman; highwaymen swarm on all the roads; men-servants are insolent and rascally; the noise in the leading streets is deafening; in a shower the way becomes impassable from the rain-spouts on the roof, which discharge their contents upon the streets below.


We who now object to the noise of a barrel-organ in the street, or a cry of milk, or a distant German band, would be driven mad by a single day of George the Second's London streets. Hogarth has touched the subject, but only touched it. No one could do more in a picture than indicate the mere fringe of{447} this vast subject. Even on the printed page we can do little more than the painter. For instance, here were some of the more common and every-day and all-day-long noises. Many of the shopkeepers still kept up the custom of having a prentice outside bawling an invitation to buy—buy—buy. To this day, butchers at Clare Market cry out at the stalls, all day long, "Rally up, ladies! Rally up! Buy! Buy! Buy!" In the streets of private houses there passed a never-ending procession of those who bawled things for sale. Here were a few of the things they{448} bawled—I am conscious that it is a very imperfect list. There were those who offered to do things—mend chairs, grind knives, solder pots and pans, buy rags or kitchen stuff, rabbit skins, hair, or rusty swords, exchange old clothes or wigs, mend old china, cut wires—this excruciating, rasping operation was apparently done in the open—or cooper casks. There were, next, the multitude of those who carried wares to sell—as things to eat and drink—saloop, barley broth, rice, milk, furmity, Shrewsbury cakes, eggs, lily-white vinegar, hot peascods, rabbits, birds, pullets, gingerbread, oysters, honey, cherry ripe, Chaney oranges, hot codlins, pippins, fruit of all kinds, fish taffity tarts, fresh-water, tripe, tansy, greens, mustard, salt, gray pease, water-cresses, shrimps, rosemary, lavender, milk, elder-buds; or things of domestic use—lace, ribbons, almanacs, ink, small coal, sealing-wax, wood to cleave, earthen-ware, spigots, combs, buckles, leghorns, pewter pots, brooms in exchange for old shoes, things of horn, Holland socks, woollen socks and wrappers, brimstone matches, flint and steel, shoelaces, scissors and tools, straps, and the thousand-and-one things which are now sold in shops. The bearward came along with his animal and his dogs and his drum, the sweep shouted from the house-top, the ballad-singer bawled in the road, the tumbler and the dancing-girl set up their pitch with pipe and drum. Nobody minded how much noise was made. In the smaller streets the good-wives sat with open doors, running in and out, gossiping over their work; they liked the noise, they liked this perambulating market—it made the street lively, it brought the neighbors out to look, and it pleased the baby. Then the wagons{449} went ponderously grinding over the round stones of the road, the carts rumbled, the brewers' sledges growled, the chariot rattled, the drivers quarrelled, cursed, and fought. A great American, now, alas! gone from us, spoke of the continual murmur of London as of Niagara afar off. A hundred years ago he would have spoken of the continual roar.

At this time the wealth and trade of London had reached a point which surprised and even terrified those who considered the present compared with the past and looked forward to the future. "On a general view," writes Northouck in 1772, "of our national circumstances it is but too probable that the height of our prosperity is now producing our ruin." He hears the cry of the discontented; it means, he thinks, ruin. Well, there were to be mighty changes, and still more mighty changes of which he suspects nothing. Yet not ruin. For, whatever happens, the energy and the spirit of the people will remain. Besides, Northouck and those of his time did not understand that the world is always growing wider.

The great merchants of the City still lived within the old boundaries: they had their country-houses, but they spent most of their time in town, where their houses were stately and commodious, but no longer palaces like those of their predecessors. Two or three of them remain, but they are rapidly disappearing. One of these, destroyed about six years ago, illustrated the house of a merchant at a time when his offices and his residence were one. The rooms for his clerks were on the ground floor; the merchant's private room looked out upon a garden at the back. In the basement was his strong-room, constructed of stone,{450} in a deep recess. On the first floor were the living-rooms. The garden was not large, but it contained a stone terrace fine enough for a garden of much larger dimensions, a mulberry-tree, and a vine.

There were no palaces left in the City; no noblemen lived there any longer. The Lord Mayor's Mansion, built in 1750, was the only palace unless we count Guildhall, the Royal Exchange, Gresham College, and the Halls of the Companies. But in every street except those given up entirely to trade, such as Cheapside, stood the substantial house of the City Fathers.

Never before had the City been so wealthy. Despite the continual wars of the eighteenth century, nothing could check the prosperity of the country. French privateers scoured the ocean in chase of our merchantmen; every East Indiaman had to run the gantlet all the way from Madeira to Plymouth; the supremacy of the sea was obstinately disputed by France; yet more ships escaped than were taken. Our Indiamen fought the privateer and sank him; our fleets retaliated; our frigates protected the merchantmen, and when, as happened sometimes, we had the pleasure of fighting Spain as well as France, the balance of captures was greatly in our favor. "Sir," said Lord Nelson to the King, when Spain declared war against us, "this makes all the difference. It promised to be a poor war; it will now be a rich war."

"But, noble Thames, whilst I can hold a pen,
I will divulge thy glory unto men.
Then in the morning, when my corn is scant,
Before the evening doth supply my want."

This was written by the Water Poet, John Taylor, a little later. The river was the most convenient and the most rapid road from one end of London to the other, at a time when the roads were miry and full of holes, and when there were no coaches. And long after coaches became numerous, the watermen continued to flourish. There were only two bridges over the river; many places of amusement—the Paris Gardens, Cupid Gardens, St. George's Fields, and Vauxhall—lay on the south side: it was pleasant and quiet on the water, save for the quarrels and the cursing of the watermen. The air was fresh: the view of the City was noble: the river was covered with barges and pleasure-boats furnished with banners and streamers of silk; flocks of swans swimming about—little wonder if the citizens continued to prefer the river to their muddy lanes and noisy streets. Even in the last century, too, the watermen had not ceased to sing as they rowed. They still sang—with a "Heave and hoe, rumbelow"—their old ballad of "Row the boat, Norman, to thy leman," made, it was said, on John Norman, first of the mayors who was rowed to Westminster by water instead of riding, as had been the previous custom.

Those who have read Professor Seeley's book on the Extension of Britain know how our conquests, our power, and our trade increased during that long struggle with France. We had losses; we made an enemy beyond the Atlantic who should have been our firmest friend and ally; we were hampered with continental possessions; we were continually suffering enormous drains of money and of men; we were throwing away our lusty youth by hundreds of thousands; yet{452} we continued to grow stronger and richer every year. The wars advanced trade; the wars pushed forward our territories; our increased trade paid for the wars; the wars provided occupation for younger sons.


By this time, too, the companies were at their richest; their charities were at their fullest; their banquets and functions were most lavish and splendid.

Take the rich Company of Haberdashers alone for its benefactions. This company maintained two free-schools in London and three in the country; two almshouses in London and two in the country; it presented to six benefices in the country; it provided{453} three lectureships in city churches and one in the University of Cambridge; it gave five exhibitions to Cambridge, and it provided pensions for forty-eight poor men and women. In these charities the company disbursed about £3400 a year. At the present day it gives away a great deal more owing to the increased value of its property, but as London is so much larger the effect is not so great in proportion. This list of charities, again, does not include the execution of certain testamentary and private charities, as broadcloth to poor widows, gifts to prisoners for debt, payments for ringing the church-bell, weekly doles of bread, and so forth. The Haberdashers' Company was one of the twelve great companies, all wealthy. If each of these gave away yearly the sum of £2000 only, we have £24,000 a year. There were, besides, all the smaller companies, and not one without some funds for charity, education, or pensions. A boy born in the City might be educated by his father's company, apprenticed to the company, taught his trade by the company, found in work by the company, feasted once a year by the company, pensioned by the company, buried by the company, and his children looked after by the company. If he fell into debt, and so arrived at Ludgate Hill Prison, the bounty of the company followed him there. And even if he disgraced himself and was lodged in Newgate, the company augmented the daily ration of bread with something more substantial. In all, there were (and are) eighty-four City companies, representing every trade except those which are of modern origin. Among these are not counted such companies as the Whitawers, the Fustarers, and the Megusers, long since dissolved.{454} But the Pewterers, the Bowyers, the Fletchers, the Long Bowstring Makers, the Patten Makers, and the Loriners have survived the trades which they were founded to maintain. Some of them have no hall and very small endowments. One, the Card Makers, presents each member of the company with a pack of playing-cards every year, and with this single act expends, I believe, all the endowment which it possesses.

By poetic license, quite pardonable when assumed by Austin Dobson or by Praed, we speak of the leisure of the eighteenth century. Where is it—this leisure? I can find it nowhere. In London City the sober merchant who walks so gravely on 'Change is an eager, venturesome trader, pushing out his cargoes into every quarter of the globe, as full of enterprise as an Elizabethan, following the flag wherever that leads, and driving the flag before him. He belongs to a battling, turbulent time. His blood is full of fight. He makes enormous profits; sometimes he makes enormous losses; then he breaks; he goes under; he never lifts up his head again; he is submerged—he and his, for the City has plenty of benevolence, but little pity. We are all pushing, struggling, fighting to get ahead. We cannot stop to lift up one that has fallen and is trampled under foot. In the City there stands behind us a Fury armed with a knotted scourge. Let us work, my brothers, let us never cease to work, for this is the terrible pitiless demon called Bankruptcy. If there is no leisure or quiet among the sober citizens, where shall we look for it? In the country? We are not here concerned with the country, but I have looked for it there and I cannot find it.{455}

It was the dream of every tradesman not only to escape this fiend, but in fulness of time to retire from his shop and to have his own country-house; or, if that could not be compassed, to have a box three or four miles from town—at Stockwell, Clapham, Hoxton, or Bow, or Islington—whither he might drive on Saturday or other days, in a four-wheeled chaise. He loved to add a bow-window to the front, at which he would sit and watch the people pass, his wine before him, for the admiration and envy of all who beheld. The garden at the back, thirty feet long by twenty broad, he laid out with great elegance. There was a gravel-walk at each end, a pasteboard grenadier set up in one walk, and a sundial in the other. In the middle there was a basin with two artificial swans, over which he moralized: "Sir, I bought those fowls seven years ago. They were then as white as could be made. Now they are black. Let us learn that the strongest things decay, and consider the flight of time." He put weathercocks on his house-top, and when they pointed different ways he reflected that there is no station so exalted as to be free from the inconsistencies and wants of life.

His wife, of course, was a notable house-keeper. It is recorded of her that she would never employ a man unless he could whistle. So that when he was sent to draw beer, or to bottle wine, or to pick cherries, or to gather strawberries, by whistling all the time he proved that his mouth was empty, because you cannot whistle with anything in your mouth. She made her husband take off his shoes before going up-stairs; she lamented the gigantic appetites of the journeymen whom they had to keep "peck and perch" all the year round;{456} she loved a pink sash and a pink ribbon, and when she went abroad she was genteelly "fetched" by an apprentice or one of the journeymen with candle and lantern.


The amusements and sights of London were the Tower, the Monument, St. Paul's and Westminster Abbey, the British Museum (after the year 1754, when it was first opened), the Royal Exchange, the Bank of England, Guildhall, the East India House, the Custom-house, the Excise Office, the Navy Office, the bridges, the Horse Guards, the squares, the Inns of Court, St. James's Palace, the two theatres of Drury Lane and Covent Garden, the Opera-house, Ranelagh, Sadler's{457} Wells, Vauxhall, Astley's, the Park, the tea-gardens, Don Saltero's, Chelsea, the trials at the Old Bailey, the hangings at Newgate, the Temple Gardens, the parade of the Judges to Westminster Hall, the charity children at St. Paul's, Greenwich Fair, the reviews of the troops, the House of Lords when the King is present and the peers are robed, Smithfield, Billingsgate, Woolwich, Chelsea Hospital, Greenwich Hospital, and the suburbs. With these attractions a stranger could get along for a few days without much fear of ennui.

The London fairs—Bartholomew, Greenwich, Southwark, May Fair—no longer, of course, pretended to have anything to do with trade. They were simply occasions for holiday-making and indulgence in undisguised license and profligacy. They had bull and bear baiting, cock-fighting, prize-fighting, cudgel-playing—these of course. They also had their theatres and their shows and their jugglers. They had races of women, fights of women, and dancing of girls for a prize. They continued the old morris-dance of five men, Maid Marian and Tom Fool, the last with a fox-brush in his hat, and bells on his legs and on his coat-tails. They were fond of rope-dancing—in a word, the fairs drew together all the rascality of the town and the country around. May Fair was stopped in the year 1708, but was revived some years afterwards. Southwark Fair, which was opened by the Lord Mayor and sheriffs riding over the bridge through the borough, was not suppressed till 1763. The only good thing it did was to collect money for the poor prisoners of Marshalsea Prison. Bartholomew and Greenwich Fair continued till thirty or forty years ago.

The picturesqueness of the time is greatly due to{458} the dress. We all know how effective on the stage or at a fancy ball is the dress of the year 1750. Never had gallant youth a better chance of displaying his manly charms. The flowered waistcoat tight to the figure, the white satin coat, the gold-laced hat, the ruffles and dainty necktie, the sword and the sword-sash, the powdered wig, the shaven face, the silk stockings and gold-buckled shoes—with what an air the young coxcomb advances, and with what a grace he handles his clouded cane and proffers his snuffbox! Nothing like it remains in this century of ours. And the ladies matched the men in splendor of dress, until the "swing swang" of the extravagant hoop spoiled all. Here comes one, on her way to church, where she will distract the men from their prayers with her beauty, and the women with her dress. She has a flowered silk body and cream-colored skirts trimmed with lace; she has light blue shoulder-knots; she wears an amber necklace, brown Swedish gloves, and a silver bracelet; she has a flowered silk belt of green and gray and yellow, with a bow at the side, and a brown straw-hat with flowers of green and yellow. "Sir," says one who watches her with admiration, "she is all apple blossom."

The white satin coat is not often seen east of Temple Bar. See the sober citizen approaching: he is dressed in brown stockings; he has laced ruffles and a shirt of snowy whiteness; his shoes have silver buckles; his wig is dark grizzle, full-bottomed; he carries his hat under his left arm, and a gold-headed stick in his right hand. He is accosted by a wreck—there are always some of these about London streets—who has struck upon the rock of bankruptcy and gone{459} down. He, too, is dressed in brown, but where are the ruffles? Where is the shirt? The waistcoat, buttoned high, shows no shirt; his stockings are of black worsted, darned and in holes; his shoes are slipshod, without buckles. Alas! poor gentleman! And his wig is an old grizzle, uncombed, undressed, dirty, which has been used for rubbing shoes by a shoeblack. On the other side of the street walks one, followed by a prentice carrying a bundle. It is a mercer of Cheapside, taking some stuff to a lady. He wears black cloth, not brown; he has a white tye-wig, white silk stockings, muslin ruffles, and japanned pumps. Here comes a mechanic:{460} he wears a warm waistcoat with long sleeves, gray worsted stockings, stout shoes, a three-cornered hat, and an apron. All working-men wear an apron; it is a mark of their condition. They are no more ashamed of their apron than your scarlet-coated captain is ashamed of his uniform.


Let us note the whiteness of the shirts and ruffles: a merchant will change his shirt three times a day; it is a custom of the City thus to present snow-white linen. The clerks, we see, wear wigs like their masters, but they are smaller. The varieties of wigs are endless. Those that decorate the heads of the clerks are not the full-bottomed wig, to assume which would be presumptuous in one in service. Most of the mechanics wear their hair tied behind; the rustics, sailors, stevedores, watermen, and river-side men generally wear it long, loose, and unkempt. There is a great trade in second-hand wigs. In Rosemary Lane there is a wig lottery. You pay sixpence, and you dip in a cask for an old wig. It may turn out quite a presentable thing, and it may be worthless. Here is a company of sailors rolling along armed with clubs. They are bound to Ratcliffe, where, this evening, when the men are all drinking in the taverns, there will be a press. Their hats are three-cornered, they wear blue jackets, blue shirts, and blue petticoats. Their hair hangs about their ears. Beside them marches the lieutenant in the new uniform of blue, faced with white.

Let us consider the private life of the people day by day. For this purpose we must not go to the essayists or the dramas. The novels of the time afford some help; books corresponding to our directories, almanacs, old account-books, are the real guides to a{461} reconstruction of life as it was about the year 1750. From such books as these the following notes are derived.


The most expensive parts of the town were the streets round St. Paul's Church-yard, Cheapside, and the Royal Exchange. Charing Cross, Covent Garden, and St. James's lie outside our limits. Here the rent of a moderate house was from a hundred to a hundred and fifty guineas a year. In less central places the rents were not more than half as much. There were six or seven fire insurance offices. The premium for insurance on houses and goods not{462} called hazardous was generally two shillings per cent. on any sum under £1000, half a crown on all sums between £1000 and £2000, and three and sixpence on all sums over £3000, so that a man insuring his house and furniture for £2500 would pay an annual premium of £4 7s. 6d.

The taxes of a house amounted to about half the rent. There was the land-tax of four shillings in the pound; the house-tax of sixpence to a shilling in the pound; the poor-rate, varying from one shilling to six shillings in the pound; the window-tax, which made you pay first three shillings for your house, and then, with certain exceptions, twopence extra for every window, so that a house of fourteen windows paid four and sixpence. In the year 1784 this tax was increased in order to take the duty off tea. The church-wardens' rate for repairing the church; the paving-rate, of one and sixpence in the pound; the watch; the Easter offerings, which had become optional; the water-rate, varying from twenty-four shillings to thirty shillings a year.

The common practice of bakers and milkmen was to keep a tally on the door-post with chalk. One advantage of this method was that a mark might be added when the maid was not looking. The price of meat was about a third of the present prices; beef being fourpence a pound, mutton fourpence halfpenny, and veal sixpence. Chicken were commonly sold at two and sixpence the pair; eggs were sometimes three and sometimes eight for fourpence, according to the time of year. Coals seem to have cost about forty shillings a ton; but this is uncertain. Candles were eight and fourpence a dozen for "dips," and nine{463} and fourpence a dozen for "moulds;" wax-candles were two and tenpence a pound. For out-door lamps train-oil was used, and for in-doors spermaceti-oil. For the daily dressing of the hair, hair-dressers were engaged at seven shillings to a guinea a month. Servants were hired at register offices, but they were often of very bad character, with forged papers. The wages given were: to women as cooks, £12 a year; lady's-maids, £12 to £20; house-maids from £7 to £9; footmen, £14 and a livery. Servants found their own tea{464} and sugar, if they wanted any. Board wages were ten and sixpence a week to an upper servant; seven shillings to an under servant. Every householder was liable to serve as church-warden, overseer for the poor, constable—but he could serve by deputy—and juryman. Peers, clergymen, lawyers, members of Parliament, physicians, and surgeons were exempted.


The principle of life assurance was already well established, but not yet in general use. There seem to have been no more than four companies for life assurance. The Post-office rates varied with the distance. A letter from London to any place not exceeding one stage cost twopence; under two stages, threepence; under eight miles, fourpence; under 150 miles, fivepence; above 150 miles, to any place in England, sixpence; to Scotland, sevenpence; to Ireland, sixpence; to America and the West Indies, a shilling; to any part of Europe, a shilling to eighteenpence. There was also a penny post, first set up in London by a private person. This had five principal offices. Letters or packets not exceeding four ounces in weight were carried about the City for one penny, and delivered in the suburbs for a penny more. There were no bank-notes of less than £20 before the year 1759; but when the smaller notes were issued, and came into general use, people very soon found out the plan of cutting them in two for safety in transmission by post.

Mail-coaches started every night at eight o'clock with a guard. They were timed for seven miles an hour, and the fare for passengers was fourpence a mile. A passenger to Bristol, for example, who now pays twenty shillings first-class fare and does the journey{465} in two hours and a half, then paid thirty-three and fourpence, and took fourteen hours and a quarter. A great many of the mails started from the Swan with Two Necks, a great hostelry and receiving-place in Lad Lane. The place is now swept away with Lad Lane itself. It stood in the part of Gresham Street which runs between Wood Street and Milk Street.

The stage-coaches from different parts of London were innumerable, as were also the stage-wagons and the hoys. The coaches charged the passengers threepence a mile. Hackney-coaches ran for shilling and eighteenpenny fares. There were hackney-chairs. In the City there were regular porters for carrying parcels and letters.

There were nine morning papers, of which the Morning Post still survives. They were all published at threepence. There were eight evening papers, which came out three times a week. And there were three or four weekly papers, intended chiefly for the country.

The stamps which had to be bought with anything were a grievous burden. A pair of gloves worth tenpence—stamp of one penny; worth one and fourpence—stamp of twopence; above one and fourpence—stamp of fourpence. Penalty for selling without a stamp, £5. Hats were taxed in like manner. Inventories and catalogues were stamped; an apprentice's indentures were stamped; every newspaper paid a stamp of three halfpence. In the year 1753 there were seven millions and a half of stamps issued to the journals.

We have seen what it cost a respectable householder to pay his way in the time of Charles the Second.{466} The following shows the cost of living a hundred years later. The house is supposed to consist of husband and wife, four children, and two maids:

Food, coals, candles, small beer (of which 12 gallons are allowed—that is, 48 quarts, or an average of one quart a day per head), soap, starch, and all kinds of odds and ends are reckoned at £3 12s. 5d. a week, or £189 18s. 8d. a year; clothes, including hair-dressing, £64; pocket expenses, £15 12s.; occasional illness, £11; schooling, £8; wages, £14 10s.; rent and taxes, £66; entertainments, wine, etc., £30 19s.: making a total of £400 a year.

If we take the same family with the same scale of living at the present day, we shall arrive at the difference in the cost of things:

Food, coals, ale, etc.420190
Pocket expenses4515
Wages of two maids4214
Rent and taxes (not counting income-tax)15066
Books, Magazines, and Journals (say)40nil
On furniture and the house100nil

A comparison of the figures shows a very considerable raising of the standard as regards comfort and even necessaries. It is true that the modern figures have been taken from the accounts of a family which spends every year from £1200 to £1400.

It may be remarked in these figures that schooling{467} is extremely cheap, viz., £8 per four children, or ten shillings a quarter for each child. Therefore for a school-master to get an income of £250 a year, out of which he would have to maintain assistants, he must have 125 scholars. The "pocket expenses" include letters, and all for six shillings a week, which is indeed moderate. Entertainments, wine, etc., are all lumped together, showing that wine must be considered a very rare indulgence, and that small beer is the daily beverage. Tea is set down at two shillings a week. In the year 1728 tea was thirteen shillings a pound, but by 1760 it had gone down to about six shillings a pound, so that a third of a pound was allowed every week. This shows a careful measurement of the spoonful. Of course there was not as yet any tea allowed to the servants. Coals are estimated at £14 a year—two fires in winter, one in summer. Repairs to furniture, table-linen, sheets, etc., are set down at two shillings a week, or five guineas a year. Happy the household which can now manage this item at six times that amount.

It might be thought that by the middle of the last century the beverage of tea was universally taken in this country. This was by no means the case. The quantity of tea imported about this time amounted to no more than three-quarters of a pound per annum for every person in the three kingdoms, whereas it is now no less than thirty-five pounds for every head. It was, and had been for fifty years, a fashionable drink, and it had now become greatly in use—or, at all events, greatly desired—by women of all kinds. The men drank little of it; men in the country and working-men not at all. Its use was not so far general{468} as to stop the discussion which still continued as to its virtues. In the year 1749 it was ten shillings a pound. In 1758 a pamphlet was written by an anonymous writer on the good and bad effects of drinking tea. We learn from this that the author is alarmed at the spreading of the custom of tea-drinking, especially by "Persons of an inferior rank and mean Abilities." "It may not," he says, "be altogether above the reach of the better Sort of Tradesmen's Wives and Country Dames. But nowadays Persons of the Lowest Class vainly imitate their Betters by striving to be in the fashion, and prevalent Custom hath introduced it into every Cottage, and every Gammer must have her tea twice a day." The latter statement is rank exaggeration, as the imports show.

Especially the author finds fault with afternoon tea. "It is very hurtful," he says, "to those who work hard and live low; when taken in company with gossips a dram too often follows; then comes scandal, with falsehoods, perversions, and backbitings: it is an expense which very few can afford; it is a waste of time which ought to be spent in spinning, knitting, making clothes for the children. Oh, I here with confusion stop, and know not how sufficiently to bewail my grief to you, delightful fair! who, by prevalent custom, are led into one of the worst of habits, rendering you lost to yourselves, and unfit for the comforts you were first designed. Be careful; be wise; refuse the bait; fly from a temptation productive of so many ills. You charming guiltless young ones, who innocently at home partake of this genteel regale, avoid the public meetings of low crafty gossips, who will use persuasions for you to drink tea with them and some others of their own stamp."{469}


Another bad consequence of afternoon tea is that it induces the little tradesmen's wives, after selling something, to offer their customer tea, and after that a dram, and so vanish all the profits.

But the writer objects altogether to tea. He cannot find that it possesses any merits. The hot-water, the cream, and the sugar, he says, are responsible for all the good effects of tea-drinking. The tea itself is{470} responsible for all the bad effects. He enumerates the opinions advanced by physicians. The learned Dr. Pauli, physician to the King of Denmark, shows that the virtues ascribed to it are local, and do not cross the seas into Europe. Men over forty, he thinks, should never use it, because it is a desiccative; the herb betony should be taken by them, because it has all the virtues and none of the vices of tea. Schroder and Quincey believed it good for every complaint; the learned Pechlin held that it is good for scorbutic cases, but thought that veronica and Paul's betony are just as good. Dr. Hunt enumerates many diseases for which its occasional use is good. Finally, the writer of the pamphlet concludes that tea will rapidly become cheaper; that it will then go out of fashion; and that it will be replaced by our own sage, which, he says, makes a much more wholesome drink, with hot-water, cream, and sugar.

But a far greater person than this anonymous writer set his face and the whole force of his authority and example against the drinking of tea. This was no other than John Wesley, who, in the year 1748, issued a "Letter to a Friend, concerning Tea." The following extracts give the practical part of the letter, omitting the very strange argument against tea-drinking based upon Scripture:

Twenty-nine years ago, when I had spent a few months at Oxford, having, as I apprehended, an exceeding good Constitution, and being otherwise in Health, I was a little surprised at some Symptoms of a Paralytick Disorder. I could not imagine what should occasion that shaking of my Hand; till I observed it was always worst after Breakfast, and that if I intermitted drinking Tea for two or three Days, it did not shake{471} at all. Upon Inquiry, I found Tea had the same effect upon others also of my Acquaintance; and therefore saw, that this was one of its natural Effects (as several Physicians have often remarked), especially when it is largely and frequently drank; and most of all on Persons of weak Nerves. Upon this I lessened the Quantity, drank it weaker, and added more Milk and Sugar. But still, for above six and twenty Years, I was more or less subject to the same Disorder.

July was two Years, I began to observe, that abundance of the People in London, with whom I conversed, laboured under the same, and many other Paralytick Disorders, and that in a much higher Degree; insomuch that some of their Nerves were quite unstrung; their bodily Strength was quite decay'd, and they could not go through their daily Labour. I inquired, 'Are you not an hard Drinker?' And was answered by one and another, 'No, indeed, Sir, not I! I drink scarce any Thing but a little Tea, Morning and Night.' I immediately remembered my own Case; and after weighing the matter thoroughly, easily gathered from many concurring Circumstances, that it was the same Case with them.

I considered, 'What an Advantage would it be, to these poor enfeebled People, if they would leave off what so manifestly impairs their Health, and thereby hurts their Business also?—Is there Nothing equally cheap which they could use? Yes, surely: And cheaper too. If they used English Herbs in its stead (which would cost either Nothing, or what is next to Nothing), with the same Bread, Butter, and Milk, they would save just the Price of the Tea. And hereby they might not only lessen their Pain, but in some Degree their Poverty too....'

Immediately it struck into my Mind, 'But Example must go before Precept. Therefore I must not plead an Exemption for myself, from a daily Practice of twenty-seven Years. I must begin.' I did so. I left it off myself in August, 1746. And I have now had sufficient Time to try the Effects, which have fully answered my Expectation: My Paralytick Complaints are all gone: My Hand is as steady as it was at Fifteen: Although I must expect that, or other Weaknesses, soon: as I decline into the Vale of Years. And so considerable a Difference{472} do I find in my Expence, that I can make it appear, from the Accounts now in being, in only those four Families at London, Bristol, Kingswood, and Newcastle, I save upwards of fifty Pounds a Year.

The first to whom I explained these Things at large, and whom I advised to set the same Example to their Brethren, were, a few of those, who rejoice to assist my Brother and me, as our Sons in the Gospel. A Week after I proposed it to about forty of those, whom I believed to be strong in Faith: And to the next Morning to about sixty more, intreating them all, to speak their Minds freely. They did so: and in the End, saw the Good which might insue; yielded to the Force of Scripture and Reason: And resolved all (but two or three) by the Grace of God, to make the Trial without Delay.

If you are sincere in this Plea; if you do not talk of your Health, while the real Objection is your Inclination, make a fair Trial thus, 1. Take half a Pint of Milk every Morning, with a little Bread, not boiled, but warmed only; (a Man in tolerable Health might double the Quantity.) 2. If this is too heavy, add as much Water, and boil it together with a Spoonful of Oatmeal. 3. If this agrees not, try half a Pint, or a little more, of Water-gruel, neither thick nor thin; not sweetened (for that may be apt to make you sick) but with a very little Butter, Salt, and Bread. 4. If this disagrees, try Sage, green Balm, Mint, or Pennyroyal Tea, infusing only so much of the Herb as just to change the Colour of the Water. 5. Try two or three of these mixed, in various Proportions. 6. Try ten or twelve other English Herbs. 7. Try Foltron, a Mixture of Herbs to be had at many Grocers, far healthier as well as cheaper than Tea. 8. Try Coco. If after having tried each of these, for a Week or ten Days, you find none of them well agree with your Constitution, then use (weak Green) Tea again: But at the same Time know, That your having used it so long has brought you near the Chambers of Death.

The still-room was of the greatest importance to the housewife. She no longer distilled strong waters for cordials, but she made her preserves and her pickles.{473} She made rose-water, and lavender-water, and hysterical-water; Plague-water, angelica-water, and all kinds of wonderful waters, whose names and virtues are now quite forgotten. The horror of the Plague, which survived to a hundred years ago, is shown by the extraordinary complications of the Plague-mixture. We are to take a pound each of twenty roots, sixteen flowers, nineteen seeds; we are to take also an ounce each of nutmeg, cloves, and mace; we are to shred the flowers, bruise the berries, and pound the roots and spices; to these we must add a peck of green walnuts; after mixing all together they must be steeped in wine lees; after a week they must be distilled.

She also made cherry-brandy, currant-gin, damson-brandy, and certain medicinal wines or confections, of which the following is a specimen. It is called Gascony wine. It comforts the vital parts, cures dropsy, and keeps the old alive. Yet we have neglected so sovereign a medicine!

"Take ginger, galingale, cinnamon, nutmeg, grains of paradise, cloves bruised, fennel seed, caraway seeds, origanum, one ounce each. Next, take sage, wild marjorum, pennyroyal, mint, red roses, thyme, pellitory, rosemary, wild thyme, camomile, lavender, one handful of each. Beat the spices small, bruise the herbs, put all into a limbeck with wine for twelve hours; then distil."

The great thing was to have as many ingredients as possible. Thus the Plague-water took fifty-nine ingredients; the famous water called "Mithridate" took forty-six; and the Venice treacle, sixty-two. When they were once made, they were warranted to "rectify and maintain the body, clarify the blood, surfle the{474} cheek, perfume the skin, tinct the hair, and lengthen the appetite."

The London citizen of the lower class never called in a physician unless he was in immediate danger; the herbalist physicked him, and the wise woman. Very often his own wife was an abyss of learning as to herbs and their properties; the bone-setter belonged to a distinct branch of the medical profession. There were apothecaries who prescribed as well as sold drugs. For instance, early in the century, one Dalmahoy kept a shop on Ludgate Hill, where he sold, among other things, drugs, potions, electuaries, powders, sweetmeats, washes for the complexion, scented hair-oil pomades, dentifrices, love charms, Italian masks to sleep in, spermaceti salt, and scammony squills. And the doctor who wished to attract the confidence of citizens found a little stage management useful. He wore black, of course, with a huge wig; he carried a gold-headed cane, with a pomander box on the top; he kept his hands always in a muff, so that they might be soft, warm to the touch, and delicate; he hung his consulting-room with looking-glasses, and he littered it with vials; he had on the mantel-shelf a skull, and hanging to the wall the skeleton of a monkey; on his table stood a folio in Greek; and he preserved a Castilian gravity of countenance. Besides the physician, the apothecary, the herbalist, and the wise woman, there was the barber-surgeon. His pole was twined with colors three—white, red, and blue. But I know not how long into the century the alliance of surgeon and barber continued.

One must not overlook the quack, who plays such a conspicuous part in the last century. There was certainly{475} one quack—and sometimes half a dozen—at every fair. Some of them went about with a simple caravan, pulling teeth and selling potions and pills and powders warranted to cure every disorder. Some of them, more ambitious, drove round the country in coaches. They dressed in great wigs and black velvet; they had a stage in front of their consulting-rooms, on which a mountebank tumbled, a girl danced on the tight-rope, and a band of music played. And the people believed in them, just as they believe nowadays in the fellow who advertises his pills or his powders, certain to cure everybody. It is only changing the coach, the caravan, and the stage for the advertisement columns, with no more expense for travelling, horses, mountebank, or music. It is just the same whether we sell "angelic snuff" that will cure most things, or "royal snuff" that will cure the rest, or electuaries, or distilled and medicated water that will even make an old wig new.

One who has looked at Mrs. Glasse's wonderful book on cookery, and reflects upon the variety and wealth of dishes which then graced the board, would not lightly approach the subject of food. Yet there are a few plats, favorites with the people, which may be noticed. Sage tea, for instance, with bread-and-butter, is no longer taken for breakfast; and some of the following dishes have disappeared: Hasty pudding, made of flour and water boiled together, to which dabs of butter and spoonfuls of brown sugar were added when it was poured out of the pot—no one now ever sees sugar quite so brown as that which the West Indies used to send over a hundred and fifty years ago. Onion pottage has assumed the more complex form{476} of soup. A bean tansy was once universally beloved; there were two forms of it; in the first, after bruising your beans, you put them in a dish with pepper, salt, cloves, mace, the yolks of six eggs, a quarter of a pound of butter, and some slices of bacon. This you baked. The other form was when you mixed beans, biscuits, sugar, sack, cream, and baked all in a dish with garnish of candied orange-peel. There were drinks in endless variety, such as purl, Old Pharaoh, knock-down, humtie-dumtie, stipple shouldrée—names in this degenerate age, and nothing more. We can hardly understand, either, the various possets, punch in its hundred and fifty branches, raw shrub—which still stands in old-fashioned bars—and the various cups, porter cup, cider cup, port-wine cup, egg flip, rum-booze, and the rest.

The drinking of the last century went far beyond anything ever recorded; all classes alike drank; they began to drink hard somewhere about the year 1730, and they kept it up for a hundred years with great spirit and admirable results, which we, their grandchildren, are now illustrating. The clergy, grave and sober merchants, lawyers, judges, the most responsible people, drank freely; men about town, officers, Templars, tradesmen drank more than freely; the lowest classes spent all their money in drink, especially in gin, upon which they could get drunk for twopence. In the year 1736 there were 7044 gin-shops in London—one house in six—and 3200 ale-houses where gin was secretly sold. The people all went mad after gin. The dinner-hour was at two for the better sort. Mrs. Glasse plainly shows that the living was extremely good, and that expense among people in easy circumstances{477} was not much regarded where the table was concerned. Certain dishes, as in Tudor days, belonged to certain days, as veal and a gammon of bacon and a tansy pudding on Easter Day, or a roast goose at Michaelmas; red herrings and salt-fish, with leeks, parsnips, and pease in Lent; at Martinmas, salt-beef; at Midsummer, roast beef with butter and beans; at All Saints, pork and souse, "spats and spurling." They were great at puddings—one may find many an excellent receipt, long since forgotten, in Mrs. Glasse. For dessert they had sweetmeats, fruits, liqueurs, such as ros solis, rich wines, such as Lisbon and Madeira, or, where there were men in company, port. In the morning they drank tea and chocolate. It is pretty clear that the real business of the day was done before dinner. That, in fact, was the custom up to twenty years ago in certain Yorkshire towns, where everybody dined at two o'clock. The clerks were practically left to take care of the offices in the afternoon, and the masters sat over their wine. It must, one reflects, be a large business indeed where the masters cannot get through their share by two o'clock.

In the evening every man had his club or coffee-house. We know that Dr. Johnson was unhappy unless he had a club for the evening. There were clubs for every class: they met at taverns, they gradually superseded the coffee-houses for evening purposes. The City coffee-houses, however, became places where a great deal of business was carried on. Thus, at the Baltic was a subscription-room for merchants and brokers engaged in the Russia trade; the Chapter, of Paternoster Row, was the resort of booksellers; the Jamaica was a house of West Indian trade; Garraway's,{478} Robins's, Jonathan's, the Jerusalem, Lloyd's, were all City coffee-houses turned into rendezvous for merchants. The clubs of the last century deserve a separate paper for themselves. The London citizen went to his club every evening. He there solemnly discussed the news of the day, smoked his pipe of tobacco, drank his punch, and went home by ten o'clock. The club was the social life of the City. For the ladies there was their own social life. Women lived much more with other women; they had their visits and society among each other in the daytime. While the men worked at their shops and offices, the women gadded about; in the evening they sat at home while the men went out. In one family of my acquaintance there is a tradition belonging to the end of the last century, that when the then head of the house came home at ten the girls all hurried off to bed, the reason being that the good man's temper at the late hour, what with the fatigues of the day and the punch of the evening, was by no means uncertain.


A manuscript diary of a middle-class family belonging to the time of George the First shows anything but a stay-at-home life. The ladies were always going about. But they stayed at home in the evenings. There was a very good reason why the women should stay at home. The streets were infested with prowling{479} thieves and with dangerous bullies: no woman could go out after dark in the City without an armed escort of her father's apprentices or his men-servants. In 1744 the Lord Mayor complains that "confederacies of evil-disposed persons, armed with bludgeons, pistols, and cutlasses, infest lanes and private passages," and issue forth to rob and wound peaceful people. Further, that these gangs have defeated, wounded, and killed the officers of justice sent against them. As yet they had not arrived at the simple expedient of strengthening the police.

As for the dangers of venturing out after dark, they are summed up by Jonson:

"Prepare for death if here at night you roam,
And sign your will before you step from home.
Some fiery fop, with new commission vain,
Who sleeps in brambles till he kills his man—
Some frolic drunkard reeling from a feast,
Provokes a broil and stabs you for a jest.
Yet even these heroes mischievously gay,
Lords of the street and terrors of the way,
Flushed as they are with folly, youth, and wine,
Their prudent insults to the poor confine:
Afar they mark the flambeau's bright approach,
And shun the shining train and golden coach."

The occupations of a young lady—not a lady of the highest fashion—of this time are given by a contemporary writer. He says that she makes tippets, works handkerchiefs in catgut, collects shells, makes grottoes, copies music, paints, cuts out figures and landscapes, and makes screens. She dances a minuet or cotillion, and she can play ombre, lansquenet, quadrille, and Pope Joan. These are frivolous accomplishments,{480} but the writer says nothing of the morning's work—the distilling of creams, the confecting of cakes and puddings and sauces, the needle-work, and all the useful things. When these were done, why should not the poor girl show her accomplishments and taste in the cutting out of landscapes with a pair of scissors?

They certainly did not always stay at home. In the summer they sometimes went to Vauxhall, where the girls enjoyed the sight of the wicked world as much as they liked, the singing and the supper and the punch that followed.

We have quite lost the mug-house. This was a kind of music-hall, a large room where only men were admitted, and where ale or stout was the only drink consumed. Every man had his pipe; there was a president, a harp was played at one end of the room, and out of the company present one after the other stood up to sing. Between the songs there were toasts and speeches, sometimes of a political kind, and the people drank to each other from table to table.

It was a great fighting time. Every man who went abroad knew that he might have to fight to defend himself against footpad or bully. Most men carried a stout stick. When Dr. Johnson heard that a man had threatened to horsewhip him, he ordered a thick cudgel and was easy in his mind. There were no police, and therefore a man had to fight. It cannot be doubted that the martial spirit of the country, which during the whole century was extraordinary, was greatly maintained by the practice of fighting, which prevailed alike in all ranks. Too much order is not all pure gain. If we have got rid of the Mohocks and street scourers, we have lost a good deal of that readiness{481} to fight which firmly met those Mohocks and made them fly.

I suppose that one can become accustomed to everything. But the gibbets which one saw stuck up everywhere, along the Edgeware Road, on the river-side, on Blackheath, on Hampstead Heath, or Kennington Common, must have been an unpleasing sight. Some of the gibbets remained until early in this century.


The subject of beer is of world-wide importance. It must be understood that all through the century the mystery of brewing was continually advancing. We finally shook off the heresies of broom, bay-berries, and ivy-berries as flavoring things for beer; we perfected the manufacture of stout. There sprang up during the century what hardly existed before—a critical{482} feeling for beer. It may be found in the poets and in the novelists. Goldsmith has it; Fielding has it. There were over fifty brewers in London, where, as a national drink, it entirely displaced wine. The inns vied with each other in the excellence of their tap,

"Where the Red Lion, staring o'er the way,
Invites each passing stranger that can pay;
Where Calvert's broth and Parsons' black champagne
Regale the drabs and bloods of Drury Lane."

There were many houses where every night there was singing and playing, to the accompaniment of beer alone; and there was at least one famous debating club—the Robin Hood—where stout was the only drink permissible.

Here are one or two notes of domestic interest. The washing of the house was always done at home. And, which was a very curious custom, the washer-woman began her work at midnight. Why this was so ordered, I know not; but there must have been some reason. During the many wars of the century wheat went up to an incredible price. One year it was 104s. a quarter, so that bread was three times as dear as it is at present. Housewives in those times cut their bread with their own hands, and kept it until it was stale. If you wanted a place under Government, you could buy one; the sum of £500 would get you a comfortable berth in the Victualling Office, for instance, where the perquisites, pickings, and bribes for contracts made the service worth having. Members of Parliament, who had the privilege of franking letters, sometimes sold the right for £300 a year. Ale-houses were marked{483} by chequers on the door-post—to this day the Chequers is a common tavern sign. Bakers had a lattice at their doors. All tradesmen—not servants only, but master tradesmen—asked for Christmas-boxes. The Fleet weddings went on merrily. There was great feasting on the occasion of a wedding, duly conducted in the parish church. On the day of the wedding the bridegroom himself waited on bride and guests.

If the married couple were city people, they were regaled after the ceremony with the marrow-bones and cleavers—perhaps the most delectable music ever invented. It was also costly, because the musicians wanted drink, and plenty of it, as well as money.

Nothing seems grander than to hear of a city illuminated in honor of a victory or peace, or the King's birthday. For the most part, however, the grand illumination consisted of nothing but a thin candle stuck in a lump of clay in the window.

In the days before the policeman there was a good deal of rough-and-ready justice done in the streets—pickpockets were held under the pump till they were half-dead; informers were pelted through the streets, tarred, and feathered; those worthy citizens who beat their wives were serenaded with pots and pans, and had to endure the cries of indignant matrons. The stocks were always in view; the pillory was constantly in use. Now, the pillory was essentially punishment by the people; if they sympathized with the culprit, he escaped even disgrace; if they condemned him, addled eggs, rotten potatoes, turnips, dead cats, mud and filth, flying in his face, proclaimed aloud the opinion of the people.

One thing more—the universal patten. When women{484} went abroad all wore pattens; it was a sensible fashion in days of bad pavements and muddy crossings, as Gay wrote kindly, yet with doubtful philology:

"The patten now supports each frugal dame,
Which from the blue-eyed Patty takes the name."

There was also great expense and ostentation observed at funerals; every little shopkeeper, it was observed, must have a hearse and half a dozen mourning-coaches to be carried a hundred yards to the parish church-yard. They were often conducted at night, in order to set off the ceremony by hired mourners bearing flambeaux.

The amount of flogging in the army and navy is appalling to think of. That carried on ashore is a subject of some obscurity. The punishment of whipping has never been taken out of our laws. Garroters, and robbers who are violent are still flogged, and boys are birched. I know not when they ceased to flog men through the streets at the cart-tail, nor when they left off flogging women. The practice certainly continued well into the century. In the prisons it was a common thing to flog the men. As for the severity of the laws protecting property, one illustration will suffice. What can be thought of laws which allowed the hanging of two children for stealing a purse with two shillings and a brass counter in it? Something, however, may be said for Father Stick. He ordered everything, directed everything, superintended everything. Without him nothing was ever done; nothing could be done. Men were flogged into drill and discipline, they were flogged into courage, they were flogged into obedience, boys were flogged into{485} learning, prentices were flogged into diligence, women were flogged into virtue. Father Stick has still his disciples, but in the last century he was king.

We have spoken of station and order. It must be remembered that there was then no pretence of a clerk, or any one of that kind, calling himself a gentleman. Steele, however, notes the attempts made by small people to dub themselves esquire, and says we shall soon be a nation of armigeri. The Georgian clerk was a servant—the servant of his master, and a very faithful servant, too, for the most part. His services were rewarded at a rate of pay varying from £20 to £100 a year. A clerk in a Government office seldom got more than £50, but some of them had chances of a kind which we now call dishonest. In other words, they took perquisites, commissions, considerations, and bribes.

I have said, elsewhere, that the London craftsman sank about this time to the lowest level he has ever reached. In the City itself, as we have seen, he was carefully looked after. Each little parish consisted of two or three streets, where every resident was well known. But already the narrow bounds of the Freedom had pushed out the people more and more. The masters—the merchants and retailers—still remained; those who were pushed out were the craftsmen. When they left the City they not only left the parish where all were friends—all, at least, belonging to the same ship's crew; where there was a kindly feeling towards the poor; where the boys and girls were taught the ways of virtue and the Catechism—they left the company, to which they were no longer apprenticed, and which became nothing but a rich company of masters{486} or men unconnected with the trade; they left the Church; they left the school; they left all the charities, helps, encouragements which had formerly belonged to them. They went to Whitechapel, to St. Katherine's Precinct, to Spital Fields, to Clerkenwell. They lived by themselves, knowing no law except the law of necessity, and they drank—drank—drank. No energetic vicar, no active young curate, no deaconess, no Sister, no Bible-woman ventured among them. They went forth in the morning to their work, and in the evening they returned home to their dens. We read about these people in Fielding, Smollett, Colquhoun, Eden, and others; we see what they were like in Hogarth. Their very brutality rendered them harmless. Had they been a little less brutal, a little more intelligent—had they been like the lower sort of Parisian, there might have been a revolution in this country with brutalities as bad as any that marked the first act in that great drama played between 1792 and 1815.


The seamy side of London in the last century has been laid bare by one writer after another. Because it seems more picturesque than the daily humdrum life of honest folk it is always chosen in preference to the latter. Gentlemen who live by their wits are common in every age; they adorn the Victorian as much as the Elizabethan period. The rogue is always with us. There are, however, as we have seen, varieties belonging to each period. Thus the kidnapper, who has now left these islands, was formerly a very common variety of rogue. He was sometimes called crimp, sometimes kidnapper, and his trade was the procuring of recruits. In time of war he enlisted for{487} the army and the navy, and in time of peace for the merchant service and the East India Company's. He carried on his business with all the tricks and dodges which suggested themselves to an ingenious mind, but his favorite way of working was this: He prowled about places where young countrymen might be found. One presently appeared who had come to town on business or for amusement. He lent a willing ear to the courteous and friendly stranger who so kindly advised him as to the sights and the dangers of the{488} wicked town. He readily followed when the stranger proposed a glass in an honest tavern, which could be highly recommended. He sat down without suspicion in a parlor where there were two or three of the right sort, together with two gallant fellows in uniforms, sergeants of the grenadiers, or bo's'ns in the E. I. C. service. He listened while these heroes recounted their deeds of valor; he listened with open mouth; and, alas! he drank with open mouth as well. Presently he became so inflamed with the liquor that he acceded to the sergeant's invitation, and took the bounty money then and there. If he did not, he drank on until he was speechless. When he recovered next day, his friend—the courteous stranger of the day before—was present to remind him that he had enlisted, that the bounty money was in his pocket, and that the cockade was on his hat. If he resisted he was hauled before a magistrate, the sergeants being ready to prove that he voluntarily enlisted. This done, he was conducted to a crimp's house, of which there were many in different parts of London, and there kept until he could be put on board or taken to some military depot. In the house, which was barred and locked like a prison, he was regaled with rum which kept him stupid and senseless. Should he try to escape, he was charged with robbery and hanged.

The continual succession of wars enriched London with that delightful character, the man who had served in the army—perhaps borne his Majesty's commission—and had returned to live, not by his wits, because he had none, but by his strength of arm, his skill of fence, and his powers of bluster. He became{489} the bully. As such he was either the Darby Captain, who was paid to be the gaming-house bully, or the Cock and Bottle Captain, who was the ale-house bully, and fought bailiffs for his friends; or the Tash Captain, who now has another name, and may be found near Coventry Street.

The Setter played a game which brought in great gains, but was extremely difficult and delicate. He was the agent for ladies whose reputations were—let us say unjustly—cracked. His object was to restore them to society by honorable marriage, and not only to society, but also to position, credit, and luxury. A noble ambition! He therefore frequented the coffee-houses, the bagnios, and the gambling places on the lookout for heirs and eldest sons, or, if possible, young men of wealth and position. Of course they must be without experience. He would thus endeavor to obtain the confidence of his victim until it became safe to introduce him to the beautiful young widow of good family, and so on; the rest we may guess. Sometimes, of course, the young heir was a young fortune-hunter, who married the widow of large fortune only to find that she was a penniless adventuress with nothing but debts, which he thus took upon himself and paid by a life-long imprisonment in the Fleet.

The travelling quack we have considered. There was another kind who was stationary and had a good house in the City. This kind cured by sympathy, by traction, by earth-bathing, by sea-bathing, by the quintessence of Bohea tea and cocoanuts distilled together, by drugs, and by potions. He advertised freely, he drove about ostentatiously in a glass coach; he had all kinds of tricks to arrest attention—for instance,{490} the Goddess of Hygeia was to be seen by all callers daily, at the house of the great Dr. Graham. The cruel persecution of the College of Physicians has extinguished the quack, who, if he now exists, must have first passed the examinations required by the regular practitioner.

The bogus auction has always been a favorite method of getting quick returns and a rapid turnover. It is not now so common as formerly, but it still exists.

The intelligence office, where you paid a shilling and were promised a place of great profit, and were called upon for another shilling and still another, and then got nothing, is now called an agency, and is said to flourish very well indeed.

The pretended old friend, who was a common character in 1760, has, I am told, crossed the ocean and changed his name. He is now a naturalized citizen of the United States, and his name is Bunco Steerer.

Let me add to this account—too scanty and meagre—of London in the last century a brief narrative—borrowed, not invented—of a Sunday holiday. It has been seen that the City was careful about the church-going of the citizens. But laws were forgotten, manners relaxed; outside the City no such discipline was possible, nor was any attempted. And to the people within the walls, as well as to those without, Sunday gradually became a day of holiday and pleasure. You shall see what a day was made of a certain Sunday in the summer of 17— by a pair of citizens whose names have perished.


The holiday makers slept at the Marlborough Head, in Bishopsgate Street, whence they sallied forth at{491} four in the morning. Early as it was, the gates of the inn-yards were thronged with young people gayly dressed, waiting for the horses, chaises, and carriages which were to carry them to Windsor, Hampton Court, Richmond, etc., for the day. They were mostly journeymen or apprentices, and the ladies with them were young milliners and mantua-makers. They first walked westward, making for the Foundling Hospital, on their way passing a rabble rout drinking saloop and fighting. Arrived at the fields lying south{492} of that institution, they met with a company of servants, men and girls, who had stolen some of their masters' wine, and were out in the fields to drink it. They shared in the drink, but deplored the crime. It will be observed, as we go along, that a very creditable amount of drink accompanied this holiday. Then they continued walking across the fields till they came to Tottenham Court Road, where the Wesleyans, in their tabernacle, were holding an early service. Outside the chapel a prize-fight was going on, with a crowd of ruffians and betting men. It was, however, fought on the cross.

They next retraced their steps across the fields and arrived at Bagnigge Wells, which lay at the east of the Gray's Inn Road, nearly opposite what is now Mecklenburgh Square, and north-east of the St. Andrew's Burying-ground. Early as it was, the place already contained several hundreds of people. The Wells included a great room for concerts and entertainments, a garden planted with trees, shrubs, and flowers, and provided with walks, a fish-pond, fountain, rustic bridge, rural cottages, and seats. The admission was threepence. They had appointed to breakfast at the Bank Coffee-house, therefore they could not wait longer here. On the way to the City they stopped at the Thatched House and took a gill of red port.

The Bank Coffee-house was filled with people taking breakfast and discussing politics or trade. It is not stated what they had for breakfast, but as one of the company is spoken of as finishing his dish of chocolate, it may be imagined that this was the usual drink. A lovely barmaid smiled farewell when they{493} left the place. From this coffee-house they went to church at St. Mary-le-Strand, where a bishop preached a charity sermon. At the close of the sermon the charity children were placed at the doors, loudly imploring the benefactions of the people. After church they naturally wanted a little refreshment; they therefore went to a house near St. Paul's, where the landlord provided them a cold collation with a pint of Lisbon.


The day being fine, they agreed to walk to Highgate and to dine at the ordinary there. On the way they were beset by beggars in immense numbers. They arrived at Highgate just in time for the dinner—probably at two o'clock. The company consisted principally of reputable tradesmen and their families. There was an Italian musician, a gallery reporter—that is, a man who attended the House and wrote down the debates from memory—and a lawyer's clerk. The ordinary consisted of two or three dishes and cost a shilling each. They had a bottle of wine and sat till three o'clock, when they left the tavern and walked to Primrose Hill. Here they met an acquaintance in the shape of an Eastcheap cheesemonger, who was dragging his children in a four-wheel chaise up the hill, while his wife carried the good man's wig{494} and hat on the point of his walking-stick. The hill was crowded with people of all kinds.

When they had seen enough they came away and walked to the top of Hampstead Hill. Here, at the famous Spaniard's, they rested and took a bottle of port.

It was five o'clock in the afternoon when they left Hampstead and made for Islington, intending to see the White Conduit House on their way to the Surrey side.

All these gardens—to leave these travellers for a moment—Ranelagh, Vauxhall, Bagnigge Wells, and the rest, were alike. They contained a concert and a promenade room, a garden laid out in pleasing walks, a fish-pond with arbors, and rooms for suppers, a fountain, a band of music, and a dancing-floor. The amusements of Ranelagh are thus described by a visitor who dropped into verse:

"To Ranelagh, once in my life,
By good-natured force I was driven;
The nations had ceased from their strife,
And peace beamed her radiance from heaven.

"(I stop to apologize for these two lines; but everybody knows that strife and heaven are very neat rhymes of life and driven. Otherwise I admit that they have nothing to do with Ranelagh.)

"What wonders were there to be found
That a clown might enjoy or disdain?
First we traced the gay circle around,
And then we went round it again.
"A thousand feet rustled on mats—
A carpet that once had been green;
{495} Men bowed with their outlandish hats,
With women so fearfully keen.
Fair maids, who, at home in their haste,
Had left all their clothes but a train,
Swept the floor clean as they passed,
Then walked round and swept it again."

At these gardens this Sunday afternoon there were several hundreds of people, not of the more distinguished kind. They found a very pretty girl here who was so condescending as to take tea with them.

Leaving the Conduit House, they paid another visit to Bagnigge Wells in order to drink a bowl of negus. By this time the place was a scene of open profligacy. They next called a coach, and drove to Kensington Gardens, where they walked about for an hour seeing the great people. Among others, they had the happiness of beholding the D— of Gr-ft-n, accompanied by Miss P—, and L—d H—y with the famous Mrs. W—. Feeling the want of a little refreshment, they sought a tea-garden in Brompton known as Cromwell's Gardens or Florida Gardens, where they drank coffee, and contemplated the beauty of many lovely creatures.

It was now nine o'clock in the evening. In the neighborhood of the Mall they saw a great block of carriages on their way to Lady H—'s Sunday routs. The explorers then visited certain houses frequented by the baser sort, and were rewarded in the manner that might have been expected—namely, with ribaldry and blasphemy. As the clock struck ten they arrived at the Dog and Duck, St. George's Fields. From the Dog and Duck they repaired to The Temple of Flora, a place of the same description as Bagnigge{496} Wells. Here, as the magistrates had refused a wine license, they kept a citizen and vintner on the premises. He, by virtue of his livery, had the right to sell wine without a license. Our friends took a bottle here. The Apollo Gardens, the Thatched House, the Flora Tea-garden, were also places of resort of the same kind, all with a garden, tea and music rooms, and a company of doubtful morals. They drove next to the Bermondsey Spa Gardens, described as an elegant place of entertainment, two miles from London Bridge, with a walk hung with colored lamps not inferior to that of Vauxhall. There was also a lovely pasteboard castle and a museum of curiosities. They had another bottle here, and a comfortable glass of cherry-brandy before getting into the carriage. Finally they reached the place whence they started at midnight, and after a final bumper of red port retired to rest. A noble Sunday, lasting from four o'clock in the morning till midnight. They walked twenty miles at least; they drank all day long—port, Lisbon, chocolate, negus, tea, coffee, and cherry-brandy, besides their beer at dinner. On nine different occasions they called for a pint or a bottle. A truly wonderful and improving Sunday!

A chapter on Georgian London would be incomplete indeed which failed to notice the institution which plays so large a part in the literature of the period—the debtors' prison. Strange it seems to us who have only recently reformed in this matter, that a man should be locked up for life because he was unable to pay a trifling debt, or even a heavy debt. Everybody knows the Fleet, with its racquet courts and its prisoners; everybody knows the King's Bench,{497} and the Marshalsea also is familiar to us. Here, however, is a picture of Wood Street Compter, which is not so well known. In this place, one of the two City Compters under the sheriffs, were confined not only debtors, but also persons charged with night assaults—men or women—and felons and common thieves, the latter perhaps when Newgate was full. For these there was the strong room, in which men and women were locked up together, unless they could afford a separate room, for which they paid two shillings a night before commitment, and one shilling a night after. On the master's side, those of the debtors who could afford to pay for them had separate rooms, but miserably furnished; on the common side there were two wards. In one of these, which was nearly dark and called the Hole, shelves were arranged along the wall like the bunks in a cabin; here those who had any beds laid them, those who had none slept on the bare shelf. This was the living-room and the cooking-room, as well as the sleeping-room. The smell of the place, the narrator says, was intolerable. In the second ward of the common side lived those a little removed from destitution, who could pay fifteen pence a week for the accommodation of a bed. Otherwise it was the same as the first ward. The women had a separate ward. There was a drinking-bar here in a kind of cellar—"the place full of ill smells and every inconvenience that man could conceive." Quarrels, fightings, and brawls were punished by black hole. Men in prison on charge of night assaults were called rats; women under similar charges were called mice.

It seems as if life under such conditions must have been intolerable. Never to be alone, never to be{498} clean, never to be quiet, never to be free from the smell of bad cooking, confined rooms, stale tobacco, vile spirits; never to be free from the society of vile men; this was the punishment for those who could not pay their debts. Wood Street Compter was removed to Giltspur Street in 1791.

The subject of Fleet weddings has been treated at length in a certain novel founded on one of them. They did not altogether belong to the baser sort, or to the more profligate sort. Many a young citizen arranged with his mistress to take her secretly to the Fleet, there to marry her, then back again and on their knees to the parents. This saved the expense of the wedding-feast, which was almost as great as that of the funeral-feast.

As to trade, it was marching in giant strides, such as even good old Sir Thomas Gresham had not considered possible. The increase of trade belongs to the historian; we have only to notice the great warehouses along Thames Street, the quays and wharves, the barges and lighters, the ships lying two miles in length in two long lines below bridge, the crowd of stevedores, watermen, lightermen, the never-ending turmoil of those who loaded and unloaded the ships, the solid, sober merchants dressed in brown cloth, with white silk stockings and white lace ruffles and neckerchiefs. They are growing rich—they are growing very rich. London has long been the richest city in the world.

These notes are wholly insufficient to show the London of George, the Second. They illustrate the daily life of the citizens; they also show something of the brutality, the drunkenness, and the rough side of{499} the lower levels. The better side of London—that of the scholars, divines, writers, and professional men—comes out fully in the memoirs and letters of the period, which are fortunately abundant. There we can find the stately courtesy of the better sort, the dignity, the respect to rank, the exaction of respect, the social gradations which were recognized by those above as well as those below, the religion which was partly formal and partly touched with the old Puritanic spirit, the benevolence and the charity of the upper class, coupled with their determination that those below shall never be allowed to combine, the survival of old traditions, and all the other points which make us love this century so much. If any notes on London of this period omitted mention of these points, they would be inadequate indeed.

These notes—these chapters—to conclude, make no pretence to show more than the City life; which was decorous at all times, and especially during the last century. Of the wickedness, goodness, vice, and virtue that went on at the court, and among the aristocracy from age to age, nothing has been said. The moralist has plenty to say on this subject. Unfortunately, the moralist always picks out the worst cases, and wants us to believe that they are average specimens. A good deal might be said, I am of opinion, on the other side, in considering the many virtues; the courage, loyalty, moderation, and the sense of honor which has always distinguished the better sort among the nobility.

We have seen London from age to age. It has changed indeed. Yet in one thing it has shown no{500} change. London has always been a city looking forward, pressing forward, fighting for the future, using up the present ruthlessly for the sake of the future, trampling on the past. As it has been, so it is. The City may have reached its highest point; it may be about to decline; but as yet it shows no sign, it has sounded no note of decay, or of decline, or of growing age. The City, which began with the East Saxon settlement among the forsaken streets thirteen hundred years ago, is still in the full strength and lustihood of manhood—perhaps as yet it is only early manhood. For which, as in private duty bound, let us laud, praise, and magnify the Providence which has so guided the steps of the citizens, and so filled their hearts, from generation to generation, with the spirit of self-reliance, hope, and courage.{501}



THE END{519}

Interesting Books on London.

LONDON LETTERS, and Some Others. By George W. Smalley, London Correspondent of the New York Tribune. Two Volumes. 8vo, Cloth, Uncut Edges and Gilt Tops, $6 00.

Have an enduring value for the twofold reason that they discuss public men and events of so high an order of interest that they cannot soon fade from the public eye, and that the literary nature of them is strong and charming.—N. Y. Sun.

LITERARY LANDMARKS OF LONDON. By Laurence Hutton, Author of "Literary Landmarks of Edinburgh." (New Edition.) With over 70 Portraits. Post 8vo, Cloth, Ornamental, $1 75.

We say of this edition what we said of the first—that it is deliciously filled with delicious things.—Independent, N. Y.

Mr. Hutton's book is accepted as an authority by the best educated Londoners, and it should be in the hands of every American who goes for the first time to visit the city by the Thames.—Boston Beacon.

LONDON: a Pilgrimage. Illustrations by Gustave Doré. Letter-press by Blanchard Jerrold. Folio, Cloth, $5 00.

The highways and byways of London offered as appropriate a provocation for the exercise of Doré's weird and grotesque imagination as this powerful artist had already found in Dante's "Inferno," Rabelais, the "Legend of the Wandering Jew," and the other works familiar to the public in his illustrated editions.

FIFTY YEARS AGO. By Walter Besant. With a Portrait and Characteristic Illustrations by Cruikshank and others. 8vo, Cloth, $2 50.

The book is no mere ephemera which we examine casually and then forget; it presents to the eye and photographs upon the mind a distinct and vital picture of the social, political, religious, and literary world of half a century ago.—Critic, N. Y.

LONDON. By Walter Besant. Illustrated. Crown 8vo, Cloth, Ornamental. (Just Ready.)


Works on English History.

HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PEOPLE. By John Richard Green, M.A., LL.D. New Edition, with Colored Maps. 4 vols., 8vo, Cloth, $10 00; Sheep, $12 00; Half Calf, $19 00.

A SHORT HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PEOPLE. By John Richard Green, M.A., LL.D. With Colored Maps and Tables. New Edition, Revised. 8vo, Cloth, $1 20.

THE MAKING OF ENGLAND. By John Richard Green, M.A., LL.D. With Maps. 8vo, Cloth, $2 50; Sheep, $3 00; Half Calf, $4 75.

THE CONQUEST OF ENGLAND. By John Richard Green, M.A., LL.D. With Portrait and Colored Maps. 8vo, Cloth, $2 50; Sheep, $3 00; Half Calf, $4 75.

READINGS FROM ENGLISH HISTORY, Selected and Edited by John Richard Green, M.A., LL.D. 12mo, Cloth, $1 50.

HISTORY OF ENGLAND, from the Invasion of Julius Cæsar to the Abdication of James II., 1688. By David Hume. Library Edition, 6 vols., 8vo, Cloth, Paper Labels, Uncut Edges and Gilt Tops, $12 00; Sheep, $15 00; Half Calf, $25 50. Popular Edition, 6 vols., 12mo, Cloth, $3 00; Sheep, $4 50.

THE HISTORY OF ENGLAND from the Accession of James II. By Lord Macaulay. Library Edition, 5 vols., with elaborate Index. 8vo, Cloth, Paper Labels, Uncut Edges and Gilt Tops, $10 00; Sheep, $12 50; Half Calf, $21 25. Popular Edition, 5 vols., 12mo, Cloth, $2 50; Sheep $3 75.

A HISTORY OF OUR OWN TIMES, from the Accession of Queen Victoria to the General Election of 1880. By Justin McCarthy, M.P. 2 vols., 12mo, Cloth, $1 25 each.

A SHORT HISTORY OF OUR OWN TIMES, from the Accession of Queen Victoria to the General Election of 1880. By Justin McCarthy, M.P. 12mo, Cloth, $1 50.

A HISTORY OF THE FOUR GEORGES. Vols. I. and II. By Justin McCarthy, M.P. 12mo, Cloth, $1 25 each.

Published by Harper & Brothers, New York.

Pointing handThe above works will be sent by mail, postage prepaid, to any part of the United States, Canada, or Mexico, on receipt of the price.

Transcriber's Notes: The following errors in the original have been corrected in this version.

Page 5, footnote 1, "Lipincott" changed to "Lippincott" (Lippincott, Philadelphia)

Page 55, "Hollywell" changed to "Holywell" (Hollywell, the nunnery)

Page 56, "prilgrims" changed to "pilgrims" (waylaid those of the pilgrims)

Page 120, "Hennivere" changed to "Hennebont" (castle of Hennebont)

Page 182, "Hidelsheim" changed to "Hildesheim" (Hildesheim, near Hanover)

Page 184, "or" changed to "of" (Hamburg in the reign of Queen Anne)

Page 197, "flower" changed to "flour" (price of flour)

Page 220, "noiser" changed to "noisier" (no noisier city)

Page 229, "Goliah" changed to "Goliath" (slaughter of Goliath)

Page 232, "Gerard's" changed to "Gerrard's" (was kept in Gerrard's Hall)

Page 244, "are not to be exported" should probably read "are not to be imported"

Page 297, "Russion" changed to "Russian" (Russian Company became whalers)

Page 358, "it" changed to "its" (its red lattice)

Page 393, "clegyman" changed "clergyman" (some city clergyman)

Page 407, "quanity" changed to "quantity" (prodigious quantity of)


Page 465, "hostlery" changed to "hostelry" (a great hostelry)

Page 471, repeated word "I" removed (I must begin)

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