« ForrigeFortsæt »
from the Monument endures. Still, as the
travels down the dome, and suddenly plunges into the churchyard, the immeasurable gulf is sufficiently terrible. What a Tarpeian rock to be flung from headlong!
The continued rattle occasioned by the passing vehicles, and the varied sounds in the public streets, are all blended in one unceasing rumble by the time they ascend to this place. You scarcely hear any individual sound, unless it be the striking of a church clock. A man may be seen at work with his hammer, another may be smacking his whip, and a third sawing a piece of timber; but the sounds of the hammer, the whip, and the saw cannot be heard.
In the north part of the churchyard below, once stood St. Paul's Cross, a remarkable piece of antiquity. Here were the magistrates chosen, and every male of twelve
years old and upwards, sworn to be true to the king and his heirs. When the old cross was destroyed, a new one was raised. At this cross Jane Shore did penance; here the first English Bible was publicly burned; and here cardinal Wolsey read the sentence against Martin Luther and his works.
The shop windows in St. Paul's churchyard look gay, ornamented as they are with glittering brass, but the large window panes are sadly diminished by the distance, and the names of their illustrious owners can scarcely be deciphered. There are five or six young men peeping in at the music shop, and two ladies in white have this moment stopped at the milliner's window. The varied articles that are exposed for sale, appear all mingled together. The broad slated roofs, of what used to be Newgate Market, are very conspicuous, while the narrow strip of a street called Paternoster-row, can scarcely be traced with the eye.
There is the Post Office, with its portico and Doric pillars: as seen from the ground it is a noble edifice; but this altitude is a sad revealer of secrets. We here perceive that the outside is of stone, and the inside of brick. I might enter on a description of the building, its exterior form, and its internal arrangements, its system of business, its branch offices, and its regulations for receiving and despatching letters; for it is a little city in itself, and in degree may be said, if not to regulate, at least, to affect the beating of every heart, and the throbbing of every pulse in the metropolis. And that is St. Martin's-le-Grand ! Could I
back a few short centuries; instead of the scene that now presents itself, I should be gazing on old Alders-gate; the richly and royally endowed priory of St. Martin-leGrand; and the proud and princely mansion of the duke of Brittany. Even now, I can fancy that I hear the Christmas anthem of a band of brotherhood, portly in form and feature; as with sack and wallet they plod their way through the miry streets to gather largesses against the holy tide. Christmas was Christmas then, in all its ceremonial decorations, its wide-spread charities, its open-hearted hospitality, and its reckless revelry.
He who would learn to the full, the manner and spirit with which our ancestors commemorated Christmas, had need be patient and persevering, as well as ardent, in his inquiry; for the authorities he has to consult, and the evidence he has to collect, are widely scattered through records of a varied character.
Should he fix on the days of William the Norman, as on a starting point, and continue his course to those of Oliver Cromwell; he must turn over the ample pages of many an ancient record and time-worn chronicle; he must ponder over the statute-book, scrutinize the rolls of court, and read the antique ballads of the olden times. The royal household books, and the archives of noble families, will furnish him with much information; and the popular traditions, and expiring observances in many a country homestead at Christmas
, will throw occasional light on the faint and shadowy remem. brances of remoter times.
When we read of our great great grandfathers, and our equally memorable and venerated great great grandmothers, sitting at the huge dinner table prodigally supplied with orthodox dishes; the damask napkin drawn through the highest button hole of their church-going, Christmas-visiting coats ; or the lawn handkerchief carefully pinned over the brocade stomacher, reciprocating healths; and unitedly complimenting the mistress of the entertainment; who; well versed in all the mysteries of the still and stewpan, competent to rear a goose, " sauce a capon," “ border a pasty," or " barb a lobster,"' with her best point ruffles pinned up, and brandishing her huge carving knife, occupied her household throne —the large arm chair, at the head of the table. When we read that our ancestors assembled themselves at the festive board,
“ And served up salmon, venison, and wild boars,
By hundreds, and by dozens, and by scores," we regard them as a race of men altogether diverse from those that now people our path-ways.
We can now hardly realize, even by the glimpses we may get of a lord mayor's feast, of the wassailry and prodigality of
our progenitors, when, with sinewy frames and lusty appetites, they revelled 'mid
“Hogsheads of honey, kilderkins of mustard,
Muttons and fatted beeves, and bacon swine;
Teal, mallard, pigeons, widgeons, and in fine
And therewithal they drank good Gascon wine,
Christ's Hospital is plainly seen. It was originally a religious house of the order of Grey Friars, who came from Italy 1224. The new hall is a noble building in the Tudor style, and stands partly on the ancient wall of London, and partly on the spot where stood the refectory of Grey Friars. The principal front is towards Newgate street. It has an octagon tower at each extremity, and is supported by buttresses with embattled top and pinnacles.
Christ's Hospital, in 1552, was prepared to receive poor fatherless children. Their livery was russet cotton, which soon after was changed for blue. The present Christ Church was built by sir Christopher Wren, the architect of the goodly pile on which I am now standing. The old Monastery church was burned down by the great fire of London, in 1666.
Who has not stood at the iron gates, to see the boys belonging to the place at play, in their oldfashioned monkish garb? The dark blue coat with long skirts, the yellow petticoat and stockings, the leathern girdle, the white neckband, and the small black worsted altogether unlike the dress of modern times.
The square there, with the four noble stone buildings, united by stone gateways at the angles, is St. Bartholo
mew's Hospital. It is devoted to the use of the sick: nearly four thousand in-patients, and a yet greater number of out-patients, have been cured or relieved by this establishment, in the course of a year.
A little to the right yonder, is the Charter-house, with its front in Charter-house square. An extensive Carthusian monastery once stood on the spot where the present building is situated. The Charter-house Hospital and Free-school were founded by a wealthy citizen of the name of Sutton.
Another monastic establishment occupied a spot beyond, where the knights-hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem, resided. St. John's Gate, Clerkenwell, is well known. Changed as London is, from what it was in the olden time, who shall say that it will not be much more so in future days?
I can just catch a glimpse of Smithfield. “Schmyt Fyeld,” it was once called; but a different place it was. then, to what it is now. About a third of it
be seen from this gallery. It is the principal London mart for cattle, sheep, pigs, horses, and hay. More than sixteen thousand pigs, seventeen thousand calves, twenty thousand horses, a hundred thousand bullocks, and nine hundred thousand sheep and lambs, are here annually sold.
It was in Smithfield, that the lord mayor, Walworth, in the reign of Richard 11., killed Wat Tyler; and at a yet earlier date, duels were decided there according to the “ kamp-fight” ordeal of the Saxons.
Tilts and tournaments, also, were held in Smithfield: Three thousand archers once assembled here, most of them with golden chains suspended from their necks, attended with crowds of people; and Henry vill created,