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And thrice-resplendent from above.
They bowed them on the spacious floor
And bless'd his name who deign'd to pour
His presence from on high. pp. 122-4.
We have shewn Mr. Rogers that we think him worth being found fault with; which, in our younger days, we have had reason to consider as the most friendly and beneficial mode of praise. From other readers, he will receive, we doubt not, far higher compliments; and we hope that this notice of his volume will be the means of drawing attention to it, and extending the sale. Our verdict is, that it does betray latent power, and therefore the Author is acquitted of youthful indiscretion' in issuing the same; and we wish him all possible success. But let him beware how he redeems the pledge he has here given, No plea of youth will avail hereafter, in the event of indiscretion, but he must prepare to endure all the pains and penal, ties of criticism.
Art. VII. 1. London in the Olden Time: or Tales intended to illustrate the Manners and Superstitions of its Inhabitants, from the Twelfth • to the Sixteenth Century. Sm. 8vo. pp. 324. Price 10s. London. 1825.
2. The Antiquary's Portfolio, or Cabinet Selection of Historical and Literary Curiosities, on Subjects principally connected with the Manners, Customs, and Morals, Civil, Military, and Ecclesiastical Government, &c. &c. of Great Britain, during the Middle and Latter Ages. With Notes. By J. S. Forsyth. In two Volumes. pp. 784. Price 18s. London. 1825.
THERE is something very fascinating in the poetry of anti
quarianism. We know of no better phrase to distinguish the imaginative pleasure arising from the day-dreams and romantic visions called up by old buildings, old monuments, and old manuscripts, from the genuine passion of the professional antiquary and palæographer. There is little enough that is poetical in the genuine F.A.S. He, intent upon matter of fact and chronology, knows better than to waste that time in idle fancies, which might be employed in copying an illegible inscription, recovering a lost pedigree, or verifying a date. 'great admirer he is,' says Bishop Earle, of the rust of old monuments, and reads only those characters where time hath • eaten out the letters.' He is a miser of literary pelf, and
lives upon the orts of the historian. He burrows in the past, and can see clear only in the twilight of history. Now, compared with such a man, what a mere trifler is Geoffrey Crayon, who saunters through Great Eastcheap or Little Britain, in search of some antique archway or quaintly carved projecting house-front,' that may serve as the key-note to some strange fantasy, or as the nucleus to a cluster of associations relating to the olden time! Yet, it is well, if those who are doomed to live in London, can by such means get away at times from its vulgar din and coarse realities into the distance of the past, and gather fancies from brick and stone,-as polar travellers are sometimes reduced to feed on moss and lichens. We can enter into the feelings described by the Author of these Tales. Time has been, when we have found it a luxury to turn from the glare and noise of Modern London with its well-dressed crowds and showy windows, into some quiet nook of the old city, where we could have fancied ourselves suddenly transplanted to a foreign scene, the architecture, the narrow street, or spacious court, the general air of the whole, those of other days. Alas! these picturesque relics of old days are fast vanishing. Our fathers can remember when Aldgate, Bishopsgate, Moorgate, Cripplegate, Newgate, and Ludgate were yet standing,-before Queen Elizabeth's statue fled from Ludgate to St. Dunstan's;-when Temple Bar yet retained its human garnish of rebel heads, (one of which fell into a baker's basket,) and strong oaken bars marked the extent of the city liberties;-when the lighters still came up to Fleet Bridge; when every house in Cheapside had its sign, and few shops had the luxury of glazed windows, while, instead of the flag stones, the irregular pathway was only distinguished from the road by a row of posts;-when houses still stood on London bridge, on each side of the way, except in the middle, where there was an iron railing, which now encloses Bishopsgate church-yard; when the Bank of England had not yet swallowed up St. Christopher and all his parish, and Gresham College had not been made to give way for the Excise-office; when it was unsafe to cross Moor fields
* When the streets were new paved, all these posts were removed, which gave occasion to the following epigram. The new pavement was at first called Scotch pavement: Lord Bute was then prime
The new Scottish pavement is worthy of praise:
after dark on account of the frequent robberies, and when rural delights were to be enjoyed in Marybone gardens. Such are some of the changes which have taken place since the middle of the last century-improvements, some persons may be disposed to consider them, but not so thinks the antiquary.
The present Author carries us a little further back.
• Could an inhabitant of this great and opulent city be transported back to the days of our first Henry, and behold the low and scattered houses, built of unhewn stone, and roofed with straw, the irregular streets, almost impassable from pitfalls, the churches, not rearing their sharp-pointed and delicately wrought arches, or supporting the airy spire or richly pinnacled tower, but constructed of rude materials, with the low, unornamented arch, the wooden steeple, and but scantily furnished with glass windows;-could he observe the rude but massive wall skirting the river, which, unfettered by embankments, unimpeded in its course save by the one fragile wooden bridge, bore on its ample current the osier-bound shallop, the unwieldy canack, or the high-decked galley of the Norman adventurer;-or when, turning to the north, his eye rested on the dark shadows of the forest of Essex and Enfield Chase, extending even to the eastern wall of the city*, where the red deer bounded in tameless freedom, and the boar and wild ox sought refuge from the spear of the hunter; and beheld the sterility around unbroken, save by the small portions of cultivated land that surrounded the little villages of Hochestone and Iseldunet, or the lately founded priory establishments of St. Mary Spital and the nuns of Clerkenwell; could the present inhabitants of London recognise in this rude scene,-the " lady of the kingdoms"-the modern Tyre?
Yet, pre-eminent among the cities as she now stands, more marked was her pre-eminence at this early period; for, within the hallowed circle of her rude walls, liberty sought her first asylum from the stern genius of Norman polity. The burgher of London, even in these ancient times, boasted that "lyke and after the maner of olde Troye," the bondsman who remained a year and a day within her privileged walls, cast off for ever the yoke of servitude; and with proud exultation he pointed to the precious slip of parchment, conceded by the pitiless conqueror, which declared him "law-worthy,"
This must be a mistake, as Stebben-heath (Stepney) intervened between London and the river Lea, which was the boundary of the forests of Essex.
† Cowley thus speaks of Islington, in apostrophizing the monster • London.'
'Let but the wicked men from out thee go,
And all the fools that crowd thee so,
VOL. XXVI. N.S.
and which accorded to him the important rights of bequeathing his own property, and of being judged at his own tribunals. Humble, rude, unadorned, as yet, with gorgeous structures and towering palaces, London lifted her head, the city of refuge,-the sanctuary of liberty, the privileged burgh, whose high immunities the mightiest baron or the prowest knight, dared not to violate.'
In the Antiquary's Portfolio, some curious particulars are given, from William Fitz-Stephen, descriptive of London in the reign of Henry II.
It has on the east part a tower palatine, very large and very strong; whose court and walls rise up from a deep foundation; the mortar is tempered with the blood of beasts. On the west are two castles well fenced. The wall of the city is high and great, continued with seven gates, which are made double, and on the north distinguished with turrets by spaces. Likewise on the south, London hath been enclosed with walls and towers, but the large river of Thames, well stored with fish, and in which the tide ebbs and flows, by continuance of time, hath washed, worn away, and cast down those walls. Farther above, in the west part, the king's palace is eminently seated on the same river; an incomparable building, having a wall before it and some bulwarks: it is two miles from the city, continued with a suburb full of people.
· Gardens. Every where without the houses of the suburbs, the citizens have gardens and orchards planted with trees, large, beautiful, and one joining to another.
Pastures of the Londoners.-On the north side are fields for pasture, and meadows, very pleasant; among which the river waters do flow, and the wheels of the mills are turned about with a delightful noise. Very near lieth a large forest, in which are woody groves of wild beasts; in the covers whereof do lurk bucks and does, wild boars and bulls.
• The Fields.-The arable lands are no pieces of gravel ground, but like the rich fields of Asia, which bring plentiful corn, and fill the barns of those that till them, with an excellent crop of the fruits of Ceres.
• Their Wells.-There are also about London, on the north of the suburbs, choice fountains of water, sweet, wholesome, and clean, streaming forth among glistening pebble stones: in this number, Holywell, Clerkenwell, and St. Clement's well, are of most note, and frequented above the rest, when scholars and the youth of the city take the air abroad in the summer evenings.
Without one of the gates is a certain field, smooth both in name and situation (Smithfield qu. Smoothfield). Every Friday, except some greater festival come in the way, there is a fine sight of good horses to be sold. Many come out of the city, to buy or look on, to wit, earls, barons, knights, citizens, all resorting hither....... When that great moor which washes Moorfields at the north wall of the city, is frozen over, great companies of young men go to sport upon the ice. ......The citizens have authority to hunt in Middlesex, Hertfordshire, and all the Chilterns, and in Kent, as far as Gray-water.
The only plagues of London are, immoderate drinking of idle fellows and frequent fires.'
To describe the manners of the Londoners of other days, is a more difficult task than to ascertain the state of the metropolis. The landscape may be a tolerably faithful picture: the figures must be filled up from fancy. The Author of these Tales has, however, executed his task with no ordinary grace and skill, and he has produced a very pleasing series of tales, eight in number, intended to illustrate different periods from the twelfth to the sixteenth century. The following specimen is from the tale entitled, For the Red Rose; the time, the fifteenth century.
She is a sweet and goodly city, and a most ancient one too, replied the serjeant at law, for whom antiquity had far greater claims than beauty; for London, or Troynouvant, was founded by king Brut, 1170 years before the year of grace, being about the time that Gideon was judge over Israel. So ye said, master Wynchyngham, replied the citizen, in that famous speech ye made in the cause of Farringdon against the liberty of St. Martin's le grand; wherein ye set forth, how that London hath all-This was what I said, master Poynings," that our city hath extant such dignity, liberty, and royal custom, as was from ancient time used and had," mark me closely, master Poynings," in the great city of Troy." I mind it well, master Wynchyngham, a marvellous speech it was,-commend me to serjeant Wynchyngham, said alderman Landoise, for he doth not only talk about the rolls of Parliament, and the city charter, but he beginneth at the beginning, and sheweth how it was of old time, in the great city of Troy ;-he's a learned man, quoth he. Why, truly, master Poynings, meekly answered the delighted serjeant, endeavouring to receive as humbly as possible the gratifying compliments of his friend, it hath cost much labour, aye, and hard study; for Bracton, and Glanvil, and Britton, are not to be read like the Canterbury tales, or Sir Lancelot of the Lake, and such like; but great benefit is there in beginning, as alderman Landoise saith, at the beginning. Ye know people say they are free-born Englishmen, because of the great charter, or, perchance they say, because of the laws of king Edward the Confessor; now, my late honourable master, Sir John Fortescue (whom God assoil) sheweth the true reason of the Englishman's freedom to be-because it was a mixed government under king Brut, there being both Trojans and Italians therein. Commend me to ye for a good lawyer, replied master Foynings, delighted at the high antiquity of his franchises; well, should I get by any mischance into jeopardy, methinks I cannot but do well with so learned a man as ye to aid me.
Conversing on various subjects, the travellers crossed the wide city ditch, and, passing under the strongly fortified and portcullised gate, above which, as one of the tutelar saints of London, St. Erkenwald, adorned with mitre and crosier, raised his hands as in the act