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As it proceeds, it has all the charms of variety," A memoir on the maps of London for three centuries, showing the gradual spread of the great Babel, may fitly be in company with a picture of its locomotive facilities, through all the phases of wherry, sedan, hackneycoach, cabriolet, omnibus, and steam-boat. We may linger about Smithfield, with its horse-races of the days of Henry II., its tournaments, its wagers of battle, its penances, its martyrdoms, its Bartholomew fairs, and its cattle-market, without feeling that any of its associations are incongruous, or unworthy of description and reflection. The Cock-lane ghost' is a matter of history as much as the records of that fatal Traitor's Gate of the Tower, over which might have been written the terrible words of Dante,
'All hope abandon, ye who enter here.'
The City Poet, with his tawdry Lord Mayor's state and doggrel verses, belong to the social history of London as distinctly as the classical inventor of the Masques in which James and Charles delighted." Thus does the Editor express himself, in the Introduction, and explain in part the purpose of the work.
We have alluded to our Country Cousins, and the entertainment as well as national information that may be derived from this work. To Cockneys, Londoners, and citizens born, the repast will be no less agreeable and useful. Still, we wish to contemplate a wider, a far larger sphere than may be and will be supplied by this publication. Think of the extent to which the English language now reaches, of it being spoken in every quarter, almost every corner of the globe; contemplate the scope, the influence, the future services. of our literature, our free institutions, our national character:-and then consider the centre of England as the grand source of all this potency. "Churches, palaces, theatres, exhibitions, courts of justice, prisons, hospitals, parks, squares, streets, bridges, wharfs, docks, warehouses, markets, shops, factories, inns,-pavements, sewers, gas-lights, water-pipes,-post-offices, railroads, steam-boats, public carriages-have each their tale of that mighty stirring of Humanity which in its aggregate is a spectacle of real sublimity unequalled in the world. It is the more sublime and the more wonderful that all this mass, with its manifold associations of Government, Municipal Arrangements, Police, Supply of Food, Population, Disease, Mortality, Industry, Wealth, Poverty, Crime, Religion, Charity, Education, Literature, Science, Arts, Amusements, Dress, Manners, Domestic Life, is ever-growing, and ever-changing. While we are putting down the figures the facts are shifting." "The features of such a city, physical and moral, present and antiquarian, if truly and strikingly presented, are to be looked upon with interest and curiosity, by the stranger, as well as the citizen who daily hears the sound of Bow-bell."
According to our own experience, London is an enigma and a contradiction to a stranger,-ay, and for years, perhaps, even although he may have directed a vigilant and inquisitive eye towards its notable or most significant points. While he is bewildered by the noise and turmoil of its traffic in many of the streets, he is disappointed on beholding the dingy fronts in the narrow lanes of the city, where princely merchants have their stores or their counting-houses. But suspend your judgment till you have access to the spacious apartments in the rear, and enjoy a sight of the fruits, spoils, or manufactures of the habitable earth; and then ideas and feelings will grow upon you until you are lost in calculation. Perhaps in some narrow thoroughfare a personage is pointed out to you, who seems bound to his counter like an apprentice, and yet whose wealth and transactions exceed those of petty sovereigns in other parts of the world. But still more remarkable and impressive are the thoughts which arise, if some learned antiquary directs attention to the memorials connected with the familiar and now prosaic spots one may happen to be treading. "If Finsbury and Islington are covered with interminable rows of houses, Ben Jonson shall call to mind the archers of Finsbury, or the citizens that come a-ducking to Islington Ponds.' If Spring Garden be no longer green, Garrard, the gossiping correspondent of the great Lord Strafford, shall inform us of its bowling,' its ordinary of six shillings a-meal, continual bibbing and drinking wine all day long under the trees, and two or three quarrels every week.' If the Devil Tavern, with its Apollo Club, has perished, Squire Western's favourite song of Old Sir Simon the King' shall bring back the memory of Simon Wadloe, its landlord, with Jonson's verses over the door of the Apollo room. If the River Fleet no longer runs across Holborn, Pope shall recall that polluted stream
'Than whom no sluice of mud
With deeper sable blots the silver flood.'
If the glories of White's and Will's, and the Grecian and the St. es's, have passed away in the fall of Coffee-houses and the rise of Clubs, if the stranger can no longer expect to walk without obstruction into a common room where wit is as current as tea and muffins, and a Dryden stands by the fire with a young Pope gazing upon him, he may yet live in the social life of the days of Anne, and people the solitary Coffee-houses with imaginary Swifts, and Addisons, and Steeles. Such, and so various, are the literary memorials of London; and these literary memorials are, in truth, amongst her best antiquities. As a city of progress, her material remains of the past are comparatively few; but the mightiest of the earth,those who have made our language immortal and universal,—have dwelt within her walls, and their records have outlived bricks and
stone." It is thus by looking at the Present through the Past, and at the Past through the Present, that Mr. Knight's London proceeds to describe and to picture the "Great Metropolis."
The work, as we have hinted, consists of a series of distinct papers, each of them devoted, for the most part, to some portion of the great total of London which is complete in itself; a plan which admits of lightsome matter in an amusing form. Nor can there be any assignable limit to such a publication, unless the limitless metropolis be circumscribed, or the resources of the contributors bounded. The number and character of those gentlemen who have supplied papers to the Parts which complete the first volume, promise that there will be no early stint to the work. What we are now to compress or to quote will not merely rivet the attention of our readers, but convey a sufficient notion of the whole; at the same time that our pages are enlivened.
The papers generally are headed by some picturesque or fanciful sort of title, indicative enough of the manner and matter of the distinct chapters. Thus we have for the first of the series, "The Silent Highway," thereby meaning the river Thames as the great thoroughfare for the Londoners in the time of King Richard II., as delineated by the poet Gower, and by others, down to much later days. The author of this paper, going back to an early period in the dark or feudal ages, treats of the "Silent Highway," as if it had been the only passable line of travel from the Tower to Westminster; or as if the streets of London, and the way by Charingcross to Thorney Island, had been unfit for royal or princely progresses and processions. The probability is, however, that other circumstances than bad roads and pavings recommended on many occasions the watery course; for certainly we have frequent notices of the great and the noble riding in state from the one famous limit to the other; which fact, considering the retinues in attendance, would argue that the path was neither inconvenient nor inelegant. Nevertheless it appears that both for the highest and the meanest, old Father Thames was a welcome and favourite highway when the good rhymer said
"In Thames when it was flowing,
Mr. Knight, the author of the "Silent Highway," after quoting more of Gower's simple and picturesque story of his accidental meeting with Richard, who called him on board his stately barge, desiring him
"To make a book after his best," goes on to say that, with the exception of some of the oldest por
tions of the Tower of London, there is scarcely a brick or a stone left standing that may present to us a memorial of "the king's chamber," (Camera Regia, which title, immediately after the Norman Conquest, London began to have) of four hundred and fifty years ago. But the river still flows and ebbs, and during the intermediate while has borne on its bosom many a noble and gallant craft laden with royalty and wealth. To go still further back, William Fitzstephen, who died in 1191, has left, among other records in Latin, the following description :-" 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."
Many notices are strung together concerning the "Silent Highway," or the royal road between Westminster and the Tower, and the Tower and Greenwich. The citizens of London were long in the habit of having sports on the river; such, for example, as Stow describes when he says, "I have seen also in the summer season some rowed in wherries, with staves in their hands, flat at the foreend, running one against another, and, for the most part, one or both of them were overthrown and well ducked." Two drawings illustrative of these customs, taken from an illuminated "History of the Old Testament," of the fourteenth century, and now in the British Museum, convey a lively idea of these water tournaments. Indeed there would have been no London but for the Thames; just, as we may rest assured, there would have been a sad lack of spirit and of prowess in the citizens had it not been for the sports and the manly exercises which the river prompted. The watermen alone were no insignificant body. Stow computes that in his time there were forty thousand upon the rolls of the company, and that they could furnish twenty thousand men for the fleet; which no doubt included the private watermen of the court and the nobility. Howel, speaking of the river, as it presented itself in the beginning of the seventeenth century, says, that if regard be had to those forests of masts which are perpetually upon her; the variety of smaller wooden-bottoms plying up and down; the stately palaces that are built upon both sides of her banks so thick ; well might "divers foreign ambassadors affirm that the most glorious sight in the world, take water and land together, was to come upon a high tide from Gravesend, and shoot the bridge to Westminster." By the time of the Restoration, however, the famous old theatres were swept away, and gables, turrets, and towers which fenced. the stream. Traders' premises and wharfs took the place of trim.
and sloping gardens, and the gay barge was scandalized by the coal-boats.
The second paper, and also by the editor, is to the tune of "Clean your Honour's Shoes," and gives us reminiscences of the shoe-blacks that were wont to ply their trade between Charing Cross and Cheapside, the last of whom is said to have disappeared in our own times. The subject leads the writer to a description of the streets or thoroughfares at more ancient periods,-foot-paths and coach-roads,-their muddiness and so forth in rainy weather, often in these good old days presenting obstructions to the pedestrian which would not now be tolerated in dirty lanes, and amongst other provoking injuries damaging the Day and Martin chemical preparations of the season, and besmearing the silver buckles of the gayest beau. But, what was more incongruous, the great thoroughfares of the city were, even after the Restoration, the fields for foot-ball. From the condition and obstructions of the streets, the writer passes on to the improvements in London locomotion, until he fairly seats us in an omnibus between Paddington and the Bank, glancing in the course of the sketch at pedestrianism, then at the equestrian habits of the courtiers and rich citizens, who had considerable distances to travel in London, until coaches and chairs were fairly launched into the streets.
"Paul's Cross," "The Tabard," "London Bridge," "Roman London," "Street Noises," "The Parks," &c., by different writers, are the keys to a number of antiquarian and curious records and descriptions, characteristic, more or less, of the metropolis. At length we arrive at one of the most interesting papers in the series, viz., "Suburban Milestones," from which we freely extract :
"The journey of discovery which we have thus narrated is not an impossible one to have been undertaken by a person whose curiosity was greater than his judgment. The suburbs of London continue to be full of puzzling inscriptions, such as that of Hicks's Hall. The system of measuring the roads out of London by some well-known centrical object, such as the Standard in Cornhill (a conduit once known to every passenger), was a right system, and ought to have been the uniform one. But the other system was that of measuring the roads from some point where London was supposed to terminate. There is a wide part of St. John Street, some two hundred yards from Smithfield, where we learn, by an inscription on a mean public-house, that Hicks's Hall there formerly stood. This was the Sessions House for the justices of Middlesex; and it was built at the sole cost of Sir Baptist Hicks, in the reign of James I. Here then, two centuries ago, was something like the beginning of London proper to those who arrived from the country. The Hall was surrounded with fields and scattered houses; and it was of course a remarkable object to those who entered the metropolis from the north. Again, St. Giles's Pound,-a real pound for cattle, which is marked upon the old plans,—was a prominent object standing in the village of St. Giles's, at