The Town: Its Memorable Characters and Events. St Paul’s to St James’s
(1848; rptd London: Unit Library Ltd, 1903)

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WE remember, in our boyhood, a romantic story of a church that stood under St. Paul’s. We conceived of it, as of a real good-sized church actually standing under the other; but how it came there nobody could imagine. It was some ghostly edification of providence, not lightly to be inquired into; but as its name was St. Faith’s, we conjectured that the mystery had something to do with religious belief. The mysteries of art do not remain with us for life, like those of Nature. Our phenomenon amounted to this:

     “The church of St. Faith,” says Brayley, “was originally a distinct building, standing near the east end of St. Paul’s; but when the old cathedral was enlarged, between the years 1256 and 1312, it was taken down, and an extensive part of the vaults was appropriated to the use of the parishioners of St. Faith’s, in lieu of the demolished fabric. This was afterwards called the church of St. Faith in the Crypts (Ecelesia Sanctæ Fidei in Cryptis) and, according to a representation made to the Dean and Chapter, in the year 1735, it measured 180 feet in length and 80 in breadth. After the fire of London, the parish of St. Faith was joined to that of St. Augustine; and on the rebuilding of the cathedral, a portion of the churchyard belonging to the former was taken to enlarge the avenue round the east end of St. Paul’s, and the remainder was inclosed within the cathedral railing.” [1]

     The parishioners of St. Faith have still liberty to bury their dead in certain parts of the churchyard and the Crypts. Other portions of the latter have been used as storehouses for wine, stationery, etc. The stationers and booksellers of London, during the fire, thought they had secured a great quantity of their stock in this place; but on the air being admitted when they went to take them out, the goods had been so heated by the conflagration of the church overhead, that they took fire at last, and the whole property was destroyed. Clarendon says it amounted to the value of two hundred thousand pounds. [2]Top of the Page

     One of the houses on the site of the old episcopal mansion, now converted into premises occupied by Mr Hitchcock the linendraper, was Mr Johnson’s the bookseller—a man who deserves mention for his liberality to Cowper, and for the remarkable circumstance of his never having seen the poet, though his intercourse with him was long and cordial. Mr Johnson was in connection with a circle of men of letters, some of whom were in the habit of dining with him once a-week, and who comprised the leading polite writers of the generation—Cowper, Darwin, Hayley, Dr Aikin, Mrs Barbauld, Godwin, etc. Fuseli must not be omitted, who was at least as good a writer as a painter. Here Bonnycastle hung his long face over his plate, as glad to escape from arithmetic into his jokes and his social dinner as a great boy; and here Wordsworth, and we believe Coleridge, published their earliest performances. At all events they both visited at the house.

     But the most illustrious of all booksellers in our boyish days, not for his great names, not for his dinners, not for his riches that we know of, nor for any other full-grown celebrity, but for certain little penny books, radiant with gold and rich with bad pictures, was Mr Newberry, the famous children’s bookseller, “at the corner of St. Paul’s churchyard,” next Ludgate Street. The house is still occupied by a successor, and children may have books there as formerly—but not the same. The gilding, we confess, we regret: gold, somehow, never looked so well as in adorning literature. The pictures also—may we own that we preferred the uncouth coats, the staring blotted eyes, and round pieces of rope for hats, of our very badly-drawn contemporaries, to all the proprieties of modern embellishment? We own the superiority of the latter, and would have it proceed and prosper; but a boy of our own time was much, though his coat looked like his grandfather’s. The engravings probably were of that date. Enormous, however, is the improvement upon the morals of these little books; and there we give them up, and with unmitigated delight. The good little boy, the hero of the infant literature in those days, stood, it must be acknowledged, the chance of being a very selfish man. His virtue consisted in being different from some other little boy, perhaps his brother; and his reward was having a fine coach to ride in, and being a King Pepin. Now-a-days, since the world has had a great moral earthquake that set it thinking, the little boy promises to be much more of a man; thinks of others, as well as works for himself; and looks for his reward to a character for good sense and beneficence. In no respect is the progress of the age more visible, or more importantly so, than in this apparently trifling matter. The most bigoted opponents of a rational education are obliged to adopt a portion of its spirit, in order to retain a hold which their own teaching must accordingly undo: and if the times were not full of hopes in other respects, we should point to this evidence of their advancement, and be content with it.Top of the Page

     One of the most pernicious mistakes of the old children’s books, was the inculcation of a spirit of revenge and cruelty in the tragic examples which were intended to deter their readers from idleness and disobedience. One, if he did not behave himself, was to be shipwrecked, and eaten by lions; another to become a criminal, who was not to be taught better, but rendered a mere wicked contrast to the luckier virtue; and, above all, none were to be poor but the vicious, and none to ride in their coaches but little Sir Charles Grandisons, and all-perfect Sheriffs. We need not say how contrary this was to the real spirit of Christianity, which, at the same time, they so much insisted on. The perplexity in after life, when reading of poor philosophers and rich vicious men, was in proportion; or rather, virtue and mere worldly success became confounded. In the present day, the profitableness of good conduct is still inculcated, but in a sounder spirit. Charity makes the proper allowance for all; and none are excluded from the hope of being wiser and happier. Men, in short, are not taught to love and labour for themselves alone or for their little dark corners of egotism; but to take the world along with them into a brighter sky of improvement; and to discern the want of success in success itself, if not accompanied by a liberal knowledge.

     The Seven Champions of Christendom, Valentine and Orson, and other books of the fictitious class, which have survived their more rational brethren (as the latter thought themselves), are of a much better order, and, indeed, survive by a natural instinct in society to that effect. With many absurdities, they have a general tone of manly and social virtue, which may be safely left to itself. The absurdities wear out and the good remains. Nobody in these times will think of meeting giants and dragons; of giving blows that confound an army, or tearing the hearts out of two lions on each side of him, as easily as if he were dipping his hands into a lottery. But there are still giants and wild beasts to encounter, of another sort, the conquest of which requires the old enthusiasm and disinterestedness; arms and war are to be checked in their career, and have been so, by that new might of opinion to which everybody may contribute much in his single voice; and wild men, or those who would become so, are tamed, by education and brotherly kindness, into ornaments of civil life.

     The neighbourhood of St. Paul’s retains a variety of appellations indicative of its former connection with the church. There is Creed Lane, Ave-Maria Lane, Sermon Lane, [3] Canon Alley, Paternoster Row, Holiday Court, Amen Corner, etc. Members of the cathedral establishment still have abodes in some of these places, particularly in Amen Corner, which is enclosed with gates, and appropriated to the houses of prebendaries and canons. Close to Sermon Lane is Do-little Lane; a vicinity which must have furnished jokes to the Puritans. Addle Street is an ungrateful corruption of Athelstan Street, so called from one of the most respectable of the Saxon kings, who had a palace in it.Top of the Page

     We have omitted to notice a curious passage in Swift, in which he abuses himself for going to the top of St. Paul’s. “To-day,” says he, writing to Stella, “I was all about St. Paul’s, and up at the top like a fool, with Sir Andrew Fountain, and two more; and spent seven shillings for my dinner, like a puppy.” “This,” adds the doctor, “is the second time he has served me so: but I will never do it again, though all mankind should persuade me—unconsidering puppies!” [4] The being forced by richer people than one’s self to spend money at a tavern might reasonably be lamented; but from the top of St. Paul’s Swift beheld a spectacle, which surely was not unworthy of his attention; perhaps it affected him too much. The author of Gulliver might have taken from it his notions of little bustling human kind.

     Dr Johnson frequently attended public worship in St. Paul’s. Very different must his look have been, in turning into the chancel, from the threatening and trampling aspect they have given him in his statue. We do not quarrel with his aspect; there is a great deal of character in it. But the contrast, considering the place, is curious. A little before his death, when bodily decay made him less patient than ever of contradiction, he instituted a club at the Queen’s Arms, in St. Paul’s Churchyard. “He told Mr Hook,” says Boswell, “that he wished to have a City Club, and asked him to collect one; but, said he, don’t let them be patriots.” [5] (This was an allusion to the friends of his acquaintance Wilkes.) Boswell accompanied him one day to the club, and found the members “very sensible well-behaved men”: that is to say Hook had collected a body of decent listeners. This, however, is melancholy. In the next chapter we shall see Johnson in all his glory.

     St. Paul’s Churchyard appears as if it were only a great commercial thoroughfare; but if all the clergy could be seen at once, who had abodes in the neighbourhood, they would be found to constitute a numerous body. If to the sable coats of these gentlemen be added those of the practisers of the civil law, who were formerly allied to them, and who live in Doctors’ Commons, the churchyard increases the clerkly part of its aspect. It resumes, to the imagination, something of the learned and collegiate look it had of old. Paternoster Row is said to have been so called on account of the number of Stationers or Text-writers that dwelt there, who dealt much in religious books, and sold horn-books, or A B C’s, with the Paternoster, Ave-Maria, Creed, Graces, etc. And so of the other places above-named. But it is more likely that this particular street (as indeed we are told) was named from the rosary or paternoster-makers; for so they were called, as appears by a record of “one Robert Nikke, a paternoster-maker and citizen, in the reign of Henry the Fourth.”Top of the Page

     It is curious to reflect what a change has taken place in this celebrated book-street, since nothing was sold there but rosaries. It is but rarely the word Paternoster Row strikes us as having a reference to the Latin Prayer. We think of booksellers’ shops, and of all the learning and knowledge they have sent forth. The books of Luther, which Henry the Eighth burnt in the neighbouring churchyard, were turned into millions of volumes, partly by reason of that burning.

     Paternoster Row, however, has not been exclusively in possession of the booksellers, since it lost its original tenants, the rosary-makers. Indeed it would appear to have been only in comparatively recent times that the booksellers fixed themselves there. They had for a long while been established in St. Paul’s Churchyard, but scarcely in the Row, till after the commencement of the last century.

     “This street,” says Maitland, writing in 1720, “before the fire of London, was taken up by eminent mercers, silkmen, and lacemen; and their shops were so resorted unto by the nobility and gentry in their coaches, that ofttimes the street was so stopped up, that there was no passage for foot passengers. But since the said fire, those eminent tradesmen have settled themselves in several other parts; especially in Ludgate Street, and in Bedford Street, Henrietta Street, and King Street, Covent Garden. And the inhabitants in this street are now a mixture of tradespeople, such as tire-women, or milliners, for the sale of top-knots, and the like dressings for the females.”Top of the Page

     In a subsequent edition of his history, published in 1755, it is added, “There are now many shops of mercers, silkmen, eminent printers, booksellers, and publishers.” [6] The most easterly of the narrow and partly covered passages between Newgate Street and Paternoster Row is that called Panyer’s Alley, remarkable for a stone built into the wall of one of the houses on the east side, supporting the figures of a pannier or wicker basket, surmounted by a boy, and exhibiting the following inscription:—

“When you have sought the city round,
Yet still this is the highest ground.”

We cannot say if absolute faith is to be put in this asseveration; but it is possible. It has been said that the top of St. Paul’s is on a level with that of Hampstead.

     We look back a moment between Paternoster Row and the churchyard, to observe, that the only memorial remaining of the residence of the Bishop of London is a tablet in London-House Yard, let into the wall of the public house called the Goose and Gridiron. The Goose and Gridiron is said by tradition to have been what was called in the last century a “music house”; that is to say, a place of entertainment with music. When it ceased to be musical, a landlord, in ridicule of its former pretensions, chose for his sign “a goose stroking the bars of a gridiron with his foot,” and called it the Swan and Harp. [7] Top of the Page

     Between Amen Corner and Ludgate Street, at the end of a passage from Ave-Maria Lane, “stood a great house of stone and wood, belonging in old time to John, Duke of Bretagne, and Earl of Richmond, contemporary with Edward II. and III. After him it was possessed by the Earls of Pembroke, in the time of Richard II. and Henry IV., and was called Pembroke’s Inn, near Ludgate. It then fell into the possession of the title of Abergavenny, and was called Burgavenny House, under which circumstances it remained in the time of Elizabeth. To finish the anti-climax,” says Pennant, “it was finally possessed by the Company of Stationers, who rebuilt it of wood, and made it their Hall. It was destroyed by the Great Fire, and was succeeded by the present plain building.” [8] Of the once-powerful possessors of the old mansion nothing now is remembered, or cared for; but in the interior of the modern building are to be seen, looking almost as if they were alive, and as if we knew them personally, the immortal faces of Steele and Richardson, Prior in his cap, and Dr Hoadley, a liberal bishop. There is also Mrs Richardson, the wife of the novelist, looking as prim and particular as if she had been just chucked under the chin; and Robert Nelson, Esq., supposed author of the Whole Duty of Man, and prototype of Sir Charles Grandison, as regular and passionless in his face as if he had been made only to wear his wig. The same is not to be said of the face of Steele, with his black eyes and social aspect; and still less of Richardson who, instead of being the smooth, satisfied-looking personage he is represented in some engravings of him (which makes his heartrending romance appear unaccountable and cruel), has a face as uneasy as can well be conceived—flushed and shattered with emotion. We recognise the sensitive, enduring man, such as he really was—a heap of bad nerves. It is worth anybody’s while to go to Stationers’ Hall, on purpose to see these portraits. They are not of the first order as portraits, but evident likenesses. Hoadley looks at once jovial and decided, like a good-natured controversialist. Prior is not so pleasant as in his prints; his nose is a little aquiline, instead of turned up; and his features, though delicate, not so liberal. But if he has not the best look of his poetry, he has the worst. He seems as if he had been sitting up all night; his eyelids droop: and his whole face is used with rakery.Top of the Page

     It is impossible to see Prior and Steele together, without regretting that they quarrelled: but as they did quarrel, it was fit that Prior should be in the wrong. From a Whig he had become a Tory, and showed that his change was not quite what it ought to have been, by avoiding the men with whom he had associated, and writing contemptuously of his fellow wits. All the men of letters, whose portraits are in this hall, were, doubtless, intimate with the premises, and partakers of Stationers’ dinners. Richardson was Master of the Company. Morphew, a bookseller in the neighbourhood, was one of the publishers of the Tatler; and concerts as well as festive dinners used to take place in the great room, of both of which entertainments Steele was fond. It was here, if we mistake not, that one of the inferior officers of the company, a humourist on sufferance, came in, one day, on his knees, at an anniversary dinner, when Bishop Hoadley was present, in order to drink to the “Glorious Memory.” [9] The company, Steele included, were pretty far gone; Hoadley had remained as long as he well could; and the genuflector was drunk. Steele, seeing the Bishop a little disconcerted, whispered him, “Do laugh, my lord; pray laugh:—’t is humanity to laugh.” The good-natured prelate acquiesced. Next day, Steele sent him a penitential letter, with the following couplet:—

Virtue with so much ease on Bangor sits,
All faults he pardons, though he none commits.

     The most illustrious musical performance that ever took place in the hall was that of Dryden’s Ode. A society for the annual commemoration of St. Cecilia, the patroness of music, was instituted in the year 1680, not without an eye perhaps to the religious opinions of the heir presumptive who was shortly to ascend the throne as James the Second. An ode was written every year for the occasion, and set to music by some eminent composer; and the performance of it was followed by a grand dinner. In 1687, Dryden contributed his first ode, entitled, “A Song for Saint Cecilia’s Day,” in which there are finer things than in any part of the other, though as a whole it is not so striking. Ten years afterwards it was followed by “Alexander’s Feast,” the dinner, perhaps, being a part of the inspiration. Poor Jeremiah Clarke, who shot himself for love, was the composer. [10] This is the ode, with the composition of which Bolingbroke is said to have found Dryden in a state of emotion one morning, the whole night having been passed, agitante deo, under the fever of inspiration.Top of the Page

     From Stationers’ Hall once issued all the almanacks that were published, with all the trash and superstition they kept alive. Francis Moore is still among their “living dead men.” Francis must now be a posthumous old gentleman, of at least one hundred and fifty years of age. The first blunder the writers of these books committed, in their cunning, was the having to do with the state of the weather; their next was to think that the grandmothers of the last century were as immortal as their title-pages, and that nobody was getting wiser than themselves. The mysterious solemnity of their hieroglyphics, bringing heaven and earth together, like a vision in the Apocalypse, was imposing to the nurse and the child; and the bashfulness of their bodily sympathies no less attractive. We remember the astonishment of a worthy seaman, some years ago, at the claim which they put into the mouth of the sign Virgo. The monopoly is now gone; almanacks have been forced into improvement by emulation; and the Stationers (naturally enough at the moment) are angry about it. This fit of ill-humour will pass; and a body of men, interested by their very trade in the progress of liberal knowledge, will by-and-by join the laugh at the tenderness they evinced in behalf of old wives’ fables. It is observable, that their friend Bickerstaff (Steele’s assumed name in the Tatler) was the first to begin the joke against them.

     Knight-Riders’ Street (Great and Little), on the south side of St. Paul’s Churchyard, is said to have been named from the processions of Knights from the Tower to their place of tournament in Smithfield. It must have been a round-about way. Probably the name originated in nothing more than a sign, or from some reference to the Heralds’ College in the neighbourhood. The open space, we may here notice, around the western extremity of the Cathedral, was anciently used by the Citizens for assembling together “to make shew of their arms,” or to hold what was called among the Scotch “a weapon shaw.” A complaint was made by the Lord Mayor and the Ward, in the reign of Edward I., against the Dean and Chapter for having inclosed this ground, which they insisted was “the soil and lay-fee of our lord the king,” by a mud wall, and covered part of it with buildings. [11] The houses immediately to the west of Creed Lane and Ave-Maria Lane probably occupy part of the space in question.

     Behind Great Knight-Riders’ Street is Doctors’ Commons, so called from the Doctors of Civil Law, who dine together four days in each term. The Court of Admiralty is also there. The Admiralty judge is preceded by an officer with a silver oar. There is something pleasing in the parade of a civil officer, thus announced by a symbol representing the regulation of the most turbulent of elements.Top of the Page

     The civil and ecclesiastical lawyers, who connect the law with the church, had formerly much more to do than they have at present. The proctors (or attorneys) are said to have been so numerous and so noisy in the time of Henry VII., that the judge sometimes could not be heard for them. They thrust themselves into causes without the parties’ consent, and shouldered the advocates out of their business. The diminution of their body was owing to Cranmer. Doctors’ Commons are of painful celebrity in the annals of domestic trouble. We have hardly perhaps among us a remnant of greater barbarism than “an action for damages,” whether considered with a view to recompense or prevention. Doctors’ Commons bind as well as set loose. “Hence originates,” says the facetious Mr Malcolm, “the awful scrap of parchment, bearing the talismanic mark of John Cantuar (the Archbishop of Canterbury), which constitutes thousands of benedicts the happiest or most miserable of married men: in short, it is the grand lottery of life, in which, fortunately, there are far more prizes than blanks.” [12] The community ought to be thankful to Mr Malcolm for this last piece of information, as there is a splenetic notion among them to the contrary.

     A history deeply interesting to human nature might be drawn up from the documents preserved in this place; for besides cases of personal infidelity, there are to be found others of infidelity religious, of blasphemy, simony, etc., together with romantic questions relative to kindred and succession; and here are deposited those last specimens of human strength or weakness—last wills and testaments, together with cases in which they have been contested. It was these records that furnished us with accounts of the latest days of Milton; and that set the readers of Shakspeare speculating why he should make no mention of his wife, except to leave her his “second best bed”;—a question most unexpectedly as well as happily cleared up by Mr Charles Knight, who shows that the bequest was to the lady’s honour. Of the practisers in the civil courts, we can call to mind nothing more worthy of recollection than the strange name of one of them, “Sir Julius Cæsar,” and the ruinous volatility of poor Dr King, the Tory wit, who is conjectured to have been the only civilian that ever went to reside in Ireland, “after having experienced the emoluments of a settlement in Doctors’ Commons.” The doctor unfortunately practised too much with the bottle, which hindered him from adhering long to anything.Top of the Page

     Behind Little Knight-Riders’ Street, to the east of Doctors’ Commons, is the Heralds’ College. A gorgeous idea of colours falls on the mind in passing it, as from a cathedral window,

“And shielded scutcheons blush with blood of queens and kings.”—KEATS.

The passenger, if he is a reader conversant with old times, thinks of bannered halls, of processions of chivalry, and of the fields of Cressy and Poictiers, with their vizored knights, distinguished by their coats and crests; for a coat of arms is nothing but a representation of the knight himself, from whom the bearer is descended. The shield supposes his body; there is the helmet for his head, with the crest upon it; the flourish is his mantle; and he stands upon the ground of his motto, or moral pretension. The supporters, if he is noble, or of a particular class of knighthood, are thought to be the pages that waited upon him, designated by the fantastic dresses of bear, lion, etc., which they sometimes wore. Heraldry is full of colour and imagery, and attracts the fancy like a “book of pictures.” The Kings at Arms are romantic personages, really crowned, and have as mystic appellations as the kings of an old tale—Garter, Clarencieux and Norroy. Norroy is King of the North, and Clarencieux (a title of Norman origin) of the South. The heralds, Lancaster, Somerset, etc., have simpler names, indicative of the counties over which they preside; but are only less gorgeously dressed than the kings, in emblazonment and satin; and then there are the four pursuivants, Rouge Croix, Rouge Dragon, Portcullis, and Blue Mantle, with hues as lively, and appellations as quaint, as the attendants on a fairy court. For gorgeousness of attire, mysteriousness of origin, and in fact for similarity of origin (a knave being a squire), a knave of cards is not unlike a herald. A story is told of an Irish King at Arms, [13] who, waiting upon the Bishop of Killaloe to summon him to Parliament, and being dressed, as the ceremony required, in his heraldic attire, so mystified the bishop’s servant with his appearance, that not knowing what to make of it, and carrying off but a confused notion of his title, he announced him thus: “My lord, here is the King of Trumps.”

     Mr Pennant says, that the Heralds’ College “is a foundation of great antiquity, in which the records are kept of all the old blood in the kingdom.” But this is a mistake. Heralds, indeed, are of great antiquity, in the sense of messengers of peace and war; but in the modern sense, they are no older than the reign of Edward III., and were not incorporated before that of the usurper Richard. The house which they formerly occupied was a mansion of the Earls of Derby. It was burnt in the Great Fire, and succeeded by the present building, part of which was raised at the expense of some of their officers. As to their keeping records of “all the old blood in the kingdom,” they may keep them, or not, as they have the luck to find them; but the blood was old, before they had anything to do with it. Men bore arms and crests when there were no officers to register them. This, as a writer in the Censura Literaria observes, justly diminishes the pretension they set up, that no arms are of authority which have not been registered among their archives.Top of the Page

     “If this doctrine,” says he, “were just, the consequence would be, that arms of comparatively modern invention are of better authority than those which a man and his ancestors have borne from times before the existence of the College of Arms, and for time immemorial, supported by the evidence of ancient seals, funeral monuments, and other authentic documents. Surely this is grossly absurd; and the more absurd, if we consider that the heralds seem originally not to have been instituted for the manufacturing of armorial ensigns, but for the recording those ensigns which had been borne by men of honourable lineage, and which might, therefore, be borne by their posterity. Perhaps it would not be too much to presume, that it will be found on inquiry, that there are no grants of arms by the English Heralds of any very high antiquity; and that the most ancient which can be produced, either in the original or in well-authenticated copies, are of a date when the general use of seals of arms, circumscribed with the names and titles of the bearers, was wearing away.” [14]

     We learn from the same writer, that the value of “a painted shield of parchment” is fifty pounds. Of the spirit in which these things have been done, the reader may judge from a letter written by an applicant to one of the most respectable names in the college list. His object was to get the illegitimate coat of a female friend changed to one by which it was to appear she was not illegitimate. He offers five pounds for it; and adds, that there is another friend of his, “an alderman’s son, in Chester, whose great-grandfather was baseborn, whom I have bine treating with severall tymes about the alteration of his coat, telling him for 10li and not under, it may be accomplished; five he is willing to give, but not above; if you please to accept of that sume, you may writt me a line or two. I desire that you will send the scroll down again, as soon as you can.” [15] Top of the Page

     The truth is, that, except as far as their records go, and as they can be turned to account in questions of kindred and inheritance, the heralds are of no importance in modern times. Nor have they anything to do with the spirit and first principles of the devices, of which they assume the direction. We think this is worth notice, because heraldry itself, or at least the discussion of coats of arms, of which most people are observed to be fonder than they choose to profess, might be reconciled to the progress of knowledge, or made, at anyrate, the ground of a pleasing and not ungraceful novelty. To a coat of arms no man, literally speaking, has pretensions, who is not the representative of somebody that bore arms in the old English wars; but when the necessity for military virtue decreased, arms gave way to the gown; and shields had honourable, but fantastic augmentations, for the peaceful triumphs of lawyers and statesmen. Meanwhile commerce was on the increase, and there came up a new power in the shape of pounds, shillings, and pence, which was to be represented also by its coat of arms; how absurdly, need not be added; though the individuals who got their lions and their shields behind the counter were often excellent men, who might have cut as great a figure in battle as the best, had they lived in other times. At length, not to have a military coat was to be no gentleman; and then the heralds fairly sold achievements at so much the head. They received their fees, put on their spectacles, turned over their books like astrologers, and found that you were deserving of a bear’s paw, or might clap three puppies on your coach. “Congreve,” says Swift, in one of his letters to Stella, “gave me a Tatler he had written out, as blind as he is, for little Harrison. ’Tis about a scoundrel that was grown rich, and went and bought a coat of arms at the heralds’, and a set of ancestors at Fleet Ditch.” And this is the case at present. Numbers of persons do not, however, stand on this ceremony with the heralds. Many are content to receive their exploits, at half-a-guinea the set, from pretenders who undertake to “procure arms;” and many more assume the arms nearest to their name and family, or invent them at once; naturally enough concluding, that they might as well achieve their own glories, as buy them of an old gentleman or a pedlar.

     Now arms were not originally given; they were assumed. Men in battle, when armies fought pell-mell, and bodily prowess was more in request than it is now, wished to have their persons distinguished; and accordingly they put a device on their shield, or some towering symbol on their helmet. This at once served to mark out the bearer, and to express the particular sentiment or alliance upon which he was to be understood as priding himself. The real spirit of heraldry consisted, therefore, and must always consist, in distinguishing one person from another, and in expressing his individual sentiments; and as the adoption of some device is both an elegant exercise of the fancy, and acts as a kind of memento to the conscience, tending to keep us to what we profess, people who have no certain arms of their own, or who do not care for them if they have, might not ungracefully or even uselessly entertain themselves with doing, in their own persons, what the old assumers of arms did in theirs; that is to say, invent their own distinctions. The emblazonment might amuse their fancies, and be put in books, or elsewhere, like other coats of arms; and a little difference in the mode of it could easily set aside the interference of the heralds. People might thus express their views in life, or their particular tastes and opinions; and the “science of heraldry,” which has been so much laughed at, not always with justice, be made to accord with the progress of knowledge—or, at all events, with the entertaining part of it.Top of the Page

     As to coats of arms really ancient, or connected with old virtue, or with modern, we have already shown that we are far from pretending to despise anything which indulges the natural desire of mortality to extend or to elevate its sense of existence. We have no respect for shields of no meaning, or for bearers of better shields that disgrace them; but we do not profess to look without interest on very old shields, if only for the sake of their antiquity, much less when they are associated with names,

Familiar in our mouths as household words.

The lions and stags, etc., of the Howards and Herberts, of the Cavendishes, Russells, and Spencers, affect us more than those of Cuvier himself, especially when we recollect they were borne by great writers as well as warriors, men who advanced not only themselves but their species in dignity. The most interesting coats of arms, next to those which unite antiquity with ability (that is to say, duration backward with duration and utility in prospect), are such as become ennobled by genius, or present us with some pleasing device. Such is the spear of Shakspeare, whose ancestors are thought to have won it in Bosworth field; [16] the spread eagle of Milton—a proper epic device; the flower given to Linnæus for a device when he was ennobled; the philosophical motto of the great Bacon, Mediocria firma (Mediocre things firm—the Golden Mean); the modest, yet self-respecting one, first used, we believe, by Sir Philip Sidney, Vix ea nostra voco (I scarcely call these things one’s own); and those other mottoes, taken from favourite classics, which argue more taste than antiquity. We are not sorry, however, for mere antiquity’s sake, to recognise the ship of the Campbells; the crowned heart (a beautiful device) of Douglas; and even the checquers of the unfortunate family of the Stuarts. They tell us of names and connections, and call to mind striking events in history. Indeed, all ancient names naturally become associated with history and poetry. The most interesting coat in Scottish heraldry, if we are to believe tradition, is that of Hay, Earl of Errol; whose ancestors, a couple of peasants, with their father, rallied an army of their countrymen in a narrow pass, and led them back victoriously against the Danes. Two peasants are the supporters of the shield. But unquestionably the most interesting sight in the whole circle of heraldry, British or foreign, if we consider the rational popularity of its origin, and the immense advance it records in the progress of what is truly noble, is that of the plain English motto assumed by Lord Erskine, Trial by Jury. The devices of the Nelsons and Wellingtons, illustrious as they are, are nothing to this; for the world might relapse into barbarism, as it has formerly done, notwithstanding the exploits of the greatest warriors; but words like these are trophies of the experience of ages, and the world could not pass them, and go back again, for very shame. It is the fashion now-a-days to have painted windows; and a very beautiful fashion it is, and extremely worthy of encouragement in this climate, where the general absence of colours renders it desirable that they should be collected wherever they can, so as to increase a feeling of cheerfulness and warmth. When the sun strikes through a painted window, it seems as if Heaven itself were recommending to us the brilliance with which it has painted its flowers and its skies. It is a pity we have no devices invented for themselves by the great men of past times, otherwise what an illustrious window would they make! We should like to have presented the reader with such of the escutcheons above-mentioned as have been created or modified in some respect by their ennoblers; and to have shown him how different the old parts now appear, with which the individuals had nothing to do, compared with those of their own achievement, or adoption, even when nothing better than a motto. Sir Philip’s motto almost rejects his coat. [17] If all persons, ambitious of good conduct and opinions, were to adopt our suggestion, and assume a device of their own, windows of this kind might abound among friends; and many of them would become as interesting to posterity, as such “coats of arms” would, above all others, deserve to be.Top of the Page

     The most eminent names in the Heralds’ College are Camden, the great antiquary; Dugdale (whose merits, however, are questionable); King, a writer on political arithmetic; and Vanbrugh, the comic writer, who wore a tabard for a short time, as Clarencieux. Gibbon had an ancestor, a herald, who took great interest in the profession. He had another progenitor, who, about the reign of James the First, changed the scallop shells of the historian’s coat “into three ogresses or female cannibals, with a design of stigmatising three ladies, his kinswomen, who had provoked him by an unjust lawsuit.” [18] A good account of heraldry, its antiquities and its freaks, is a desideratum, and would make a very amusing book.

     LudgateWe move westward from St. Paul’s, because, though the metropolis abounds with interest in every part of it, yet the course this way is the most generally known; and readers may choose to hear of the most popular thoroughfares first. The origin of the word Ludgate is not known. The old opinion respecting King Lud has been rejected, and some think it is the same word as Flud or Fludgate, meaning the Gate on the Fleet, Floet, or Flood, F being dropt, as in leer for Fleer, Lloyd for Floyd or Fluyd, etc. It may be so; but it is not easy to see, in that case, why Fleet Street should not have been called Lud Street. Perhaps the old tradition is right, and some ancient Lud, or Lloyd, was the builder of an “old original” gate, whether king or not. Its successor (which formerly crossed the street by St. Martin’s church), was no older than the reign of King John. It was rebuilt in 1586, and finally removed in 1760. Pennant says, he remembered it “a wretched prison for debtors.” The old chroniclers tell us a romantic story of a lord-mayor, Sir Stephen Forster, who enlarged this prison, and added a chapel to it. He had been confined in it himself, and, begging at the grate, was asked by a rich widow what sum would purchase his liberty. He said, twenty pounds. She paid it, took him into her service, and afterwards became his wife. One of our old dramatists (Rowley), in laying a scene in this prison, has made use of the name of Stephen Forster in a different manner; and probably his story had a foundation in truth. According to him, Stephen, who had been a profligate fellow, was relieved by the son of his brother, with whom he was at variance. Stephen afterwards becomes rich in his turn, and seeing his brother become poor and thrust into the same prison, forbids his nephew Robert, whom he had adopted on that condition, to relieve his father. The nephew disobeys, and has the misfortune to incur the hatred of both uncle and parent, for his connection with either party, but ultimately finds his virtue acknowledged. The following scene is one of those in which these old writers, in their honest confidence in nature, go direct to the heart. The reader will see the style of begging in those days. Robert Forster, who has been cursed by his father, comes to Ludgate, and stands concealed outside the prison, while his father appears above at the grate, “a box hanging down.”Top of the Page

     Forster. Bread, bread, one penny to buy a loaf of bread, for the tender mercy.

     Rob. O me! my shame! I know that voice full well; I’ll help thy wants, although thou curse me still. [He stands where he is unseen by his father.

      Fors. Bread, bread, some Christian man send back
Your charity to a number of poor prisoners.
One penny for the tender mercy— [Robert puts in money.
The hand of Heaven reward you, gentle sir!
Never may you want, never feel misery;
Let blessings in unnumbered measure grow,
And fall upon your head, where’er you go.

     Rob. Oh, happy comfort! curses to the ground
First struck me; now with blessings I am crowned.

     Fors. Bread, bread, for the tender mercy; one penny for a loaf of bread.

     Rob. I’ll buy more blessings: take thou all my store:
I’ll keep no coin and see my father poor.

     Fors. Good angels guard you, sir; my prayers shall be,
That Heaven may bless you for this charity.

     Rob. If he knew me sure he would not say so:
Yet I have comfort, if by any means
I get a blessing from my father’s hands. [19] Top of the Page

     The prison of Ludgate was anciently considered to be not so much a place of confinement as a place of refuge, into which debtors threw themselves to escape from their creditors—“a keep, not so much of the wicked as of the wretched”—(“non sceleratorum carcer, sed miserorum custodia”), as it is expressed in a Latin speech which was addressed by the inmates to King Philip of Spain, when he passed through the city, in 1554, and which the celebrated Roger Ascham was employed to compose. As it does not appear, however, that the persons who took up their abode here were allowed to come out again until they had discharged their debts, the distinction attempted to be drawn seems to be a somewhat shadowy one. A writer, nevertheless, quoted by Maitland, who in 1659 published a description of the house in which he had himself been for a long time a resident, expresses great indignation against the authorities for having “basely and injuriously caused to be taken down” the old inscription, affixed by Sir Stephen Forster, of Free Water and Lodging, “and set up another over the outward street door with only these words engraven: This is the PRISON of LUDGATE.” [20] The prison of Ludgate stood on the south side of the street, and extended back till it almost joined a portion of the old London Wall, which ran nearly parallel to Ludgate Hill. About the year 1764 this wall is described as being eight feet and a half thick. [21] Bits of it (as before noticed) still remain in this neighbourhood.

     At this gate a stop was put to the insurrection of Sir Thomas Wyatt against Queen Mary, at the time when her marriage with Philip was in contemplation. Sir Thomas was son of the poet who had been a friend of the Earl of Surrey, and a warm partisan of Anne Bullen. He led his forces up the Strand and Fleet Street in no very hopeful condition, after suffering a loss in his rear; and on arriving at Ludgate, found it shut against him and strongly manned. The disappointment is said to have affected him so strongly, that he threw himself on a bench opposite the Bell-Savage Inn, and mourned the rashness of his hopes. He retired, only to find his retreat cut off at Temple Bar; and being summoned by a herald to submit, requested it might be to a gentleman; upon which his sword was received by a person of his own rank. He was beheaded. It was worth observing, that Mary, alarmed at this insurrection, had pretended, in a speech at Guild-hall, that she would give up the marriage, provided it were seriously and properly objected to: she only called upon the citizens to stand by her against rebels. When the rebels, however, were put down, the marriage, though notoriously unpopular, was concluded.Top of the Page

     The Bell-Savage is an inn of old standing. The name is now learnedly written over the front—Belle Sauvage. The old sign was a bell with a savage by it. Stow derived the name from Isabella Savage, who had given the house to the company of Cutlers; and most likely this was its origin; but as the inn was formerly one of those in which plays were acted, and as the players had dealings with romance, and sign painters varied their hieroglyphics according to the whim of the moment, Pennant might have reasonably found one derivation in the Spectator, without objecting to the other. A sight of the passage to which he refers will leave the immediate derivation beyond all doubt. “As for the Bell-Savage,” says Addison (for the paper is his), “which is the sign of a Savage Man standing by a Bell, I was formerly very much puzzled upon the conceit of it, till I accidently fell into the reading of an old romance translated out of the French; which gives an account of a very beautiful woman who was in a wilderness, and is called in the French la belle Sauvage; and is everywhere translated by our countrymen the Bell-Savage.” [22] This was one of the inns at which the famous Tarlton used to perform. London has a modern look to the inhabitants; but persons who come from the country find as odd and remote-looking things in it as the Londoners do in York or Chester; and among these are a variety of old inns, with corridors running round the yard. They are well worth a glance from anybody who has a respect for old times. The play used to be got up in the yard, and the richer part of the spectators occupied “the galleries.” [23]

     The wall in which Lud-gate stood was the occasion of the hill’s having two names, which is still the case, the upper part, between the Bell-Savage and St. Paul’s Churchyard, being called Ludgate Street, and only the rest Ludgate Hill. This latter portion went anciently by the name of Bowyers’ Row, no doubt from its being principally inhabited by persons of that trade. On Ludgate Hill lived the cobbler whom Steele mentions as a curious instance of pride. [24] He had a wooden figure of a beau, who stood before him in a bending posture, humbly presenting him with his awl, or bristle, or whatever else his employer chose to put in his hand, after the manner of a obsequious servant. Steele seems to have thought the man mad; otherwise the conceit would have been an agreeable one. Ludgate Street, as if to keep up and augment the didactic reputation of the neighbourhood, was not long since the head-quarters of the Society for the Diffusion of Knowledge, at least as far as regarded their publications. And, curiously enough, the house was next door to old “Newberry’s.”Top of the Page

     Between Ludgate Hill and the Thames, in the district more properly retaining the name, was the monastery of the Black Friars, an order of Dominicans, in which parliaments were sometimes held. The Emperor Charles V. was lodged in it when he visited Henry VIII., in 1522; and in a hall of the same building, seven years after, the cause was tried between Henry and his queen, Catherine.

     Shakspeare has given us the opening scene. In Elizabeth’s time, the desecrated tenements and neighbourhood of Blackfriars became the resort of the world of fashion—a court end of the city; and close at hand, on the site retaining the name of the Play-house Yard, was the famous Theatre in Blackfriars, where Shakspeare’s, Ben Jonson’s, and Beaumont and Fletcher’s plays were performed, and where many of them came out. It was what they called at that time a “private” theatre, the peculiarity of which is not exactly understood. All that is known of it is, that it was smaller than the public ones; but it was open to public admission. Perhaps a private theatre meant a theatre more select than the others, and frequented by politer company; for such, at any rate, the present one appears to have been. It is conjectured also to have been a winter theatre, and its performances took place by candlelight. The gallants and ladies of the courts of Elizabeth and James took their dinners at noon, and after riding or lute-playing till evening, went to their snug little theatre in the neighbourhood, to laugh or weep over the divine fancies of Shakspeare. Shakspeare himself must often have been on the spot; a certainty which an intellectual inhabitant will be glad to possess. The theatre, at one time, was partly his property.

     A part of the monastery of the Blackfriars was, in 1623, the scene of a frightful accident, which made a great noise at the time. Mr Malcolm has enumerated several of the publications recording it; and from these it appears that on Sunday, the 5th November in that year, a congregation of about three hundred individuals had assembled in a small gallery over the gateway of the lodgings of the French Ambassador in this building, in order to hear a sermon from a Jesuit, named Father Drury, who enjoyed considerable reputation as a preacher. Under the floor of the chamber where they were assembled was an empty apartment, and under that another, making together a height of twenty-two feet from the ground; and the floor itself, as it afterwards turned out, was mainly supported by a single beam, which in the centre was not more than three inches thick. The people had been in their seats for about half-an-hour, when this beam suddenly gave way, and the whole of them were instantly precipitated, mixed with the timber, plaster, and rubbish of the floors, into the vacant depth below. Drury, and another priest, named Redgate, were both killed, as were also a Lady Webbe, and the daughter of Lady Blackstone, together with, it is supposed, between ninety and a hundred persons. Many more were seriously injured. “Several people,” says Mr Malcolm, “escaped in a very extraordinary manner, particularly Mrs Lucy Penruddock, who was preserved by a chair falling hollow over her; and a young man, who lay on the floor overwhelmed by people and rubbish, yet untouched by them, through the resting of fragments on each other, and thus leaving a space round him. In this horrible situation he had the presence of mind to force his way through a piece of the ceiling, and he shortly after had the indescribable happiness of assisting in the liberation of others.” [25] There were many persons, it would appear, foolish and wicked enough to represent this calamity as a token of the displeasure of heaven against the Roman Catholic faith. The pamphlets noticed by Mr Malcolm are some of those that were published by the parties in a violent controversy which raged for some time on the subject. The day on which this accident happened was long remembered under the name of the Fatal Vespers; and the circumstance that it was the anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot was not forgotten by the judgment-mongers. Most of the bodies of those who were killed on this occasion were buried without either the ceremony of a funeral service, or the decency of a coffin or a winding-sheet, in two large pits or trenches, dug, the one in the court before, and the other in the garden behind the house, in which the accident had taken place.Top of the Page

     Printing-house Square, close to Playhouse-yard, marks out the site of the ancient King’s Printing-House, whence bibles, prayer-books and proclamations were issued. It was rebuilt in the middle of the last century, and became, according to Maitland, “the completest printing-house in the world.” The king’s printer now lives elsewhere; but in the same spot is a house, which may be called the world’s printing-house, seeing the enormous multitude of newspapers which the mighty giant of steam daily throws forth out of his iron lap, full of interest to all quarters of the globe. We need not say that we allude to the Times newspaper. There is no knowing, in this and other instances, what bounds to put to human expectation, when mechanical and intellectual force are thus joined in a common object.

     On the other side of the way, in Bridge Street, stood, and stands now, though hidden by the new houses, and much altered, the former palace of Bridewell, now known as a house of industry and correction. In ancient times the King used frequently to reside here; and when such was the case, the courts of law sometimes attended him. The building, having fallen into decay, was restored about the year 1522, by Henry VIII.; and here the attendants of the Emperor Charles V. were lodged while the emperor himself occupied the Blackfriars, a communication being formed between the two palaces by a gallery carried over the Fleet Ditch, and through the old city wall. Both Henry and Catherine, also, were lodged here, while the cause between them was proceeding at Blackfriars. In 1553 Edward VI. granted the palace, on the solicitations of Bishop Ridley, for the purposes to which it has since been applied; an act of benevolence which was recorded, with more precision than elegance, in the following lines under a portrait of his majesty, that used to hang near the pulpit in the old chapel:—

“This Edward of fair memory the sixth,
In whom with greatness, goodness was commixt,
Gave this Bridewell, a Palace in old times,
For a chastising house of vagrant crimes.”

     Bridewell having been burnt down in the Great Fire was rebuilt immediately after that calamity, and it has since been frequently repaired, and partially renovated. Henry the Eighth (“sturdy rogue!”) would have been a fit personage to lodge in it still, though under somewhat different circumstances.Top of the Page

     One of the steep and gloomy descents from Thames Street still preserves the name of Castle Street; and immediately to the west of this stood in ancient times, on the banks of the river, a large building called Baynard’s Castle. Baynard, by whom it was originally erected in the eleventh century, was one of the Conqueror’s Norman followers. His descendant, William Baynard, however, soon after the commencement of the next century, forfeited his inheritance to the crown, by which it was bestowed on the family of Clare. The representative of this family, and the possessor of Baynard’s Castle, in the reign of King John, was the Baron Robert Fitzwalter, a portion of whose history, as related by some of our old chroniclers, gives an interest to the spot. Among the beauties of the time, one of the fairest was Matilda, the daughter of Fitzwalter. The licentious monarch, who may have seen her at some high festival held in this very castle, was smitten, after his fashion, by her charms; but his suit was rejected with indignation, both by herself and her father. His “love” now turned into hatred and thirst of revenge; he soon after resorted to open force, and having first driven Fitzwalter to seek refuge in France, easily got the unhappy girl into his custody, and, if we are to believe the story, despatched her by poison. He at the same time ordered Castle Baynard to be demolished. The next year the armies of the English and French Kings lay encamped during a truce on the opposite sides of a river in France, when an English knight, impatient, as it would seem, of the bloodless inactivity that prevailed, thought fit to challenge anyone of the enemy who chose to come forth and break a lance with him. It was not long before a champion appeared making his way across the water, who, unattended as he was, had no sooner reached the land, than he mounted a horse and rode up to meet his challenger. The duel took place in the sight of King John and his troops, but it did not last long: for both the English knight and his horse were thrown to the ground by the first thrust of his antagonist’s spear, which was also broken to shivers in the shock. “By God’s troth,” exclaimed John, as he beheld this heroic exploit, “he were a king indeed who had such a knight.” The words were caught by some of the bystanders, who had observed more narrowly than the monarch the figure of the unknown victor, and who suspected him to be no other than their old acquaintance, the Baron Fitzwalter. It was, in fact, no other. The next day, the praise which the king had bestowed upon his prowess being reported to him, he returned to the English camp, and throwing himself at the feet of his sovereign, was re-admitted to favour, and restored to all his former possessions and honours. We may observe, however, that this narrative is scarcely detailed with sufficient precision to entitle it to be received as a piece of authentic history, and that especially it does not seem to be very easy to reconcile some parts of it, as commonly given, with the ascertained dates and the course of the events of King John’s reign. This Robert Fitzwalter is placed by Matthew Paris at the head of his list of the Barons, who, in 1215, came armed in a body to the King, at the Temple, and made those demands which led to the concession of the Great Charter at Runnymede. Indeed, in a short military contest which preceded the King’s submission, Fitzwalter was appointed by his brother barons the commander-in-chief of their forces, and dignified in that capacity with the title of Marshal of the Army of God and of Holy Church. On his return to England, he is said to have rebuilt or repaired his castle in London which the King had thrown down, and the edifice continued for a long time to be the principal fortress within the city. The family of Fitzwalter, in consequence of their possession of Baynard’s Castle, held the office of Chastilians and Bannerets, or Banner-bearers of London; and the reader who is curious upon such matters may consult Stow, or those who have copied him, for an account of the rights, services, and ceremonial customs appertaining to that dignity. The punishment of a person found guilty of treason within the banneret’s jurisdiction is worth noticing: he was to be tied to a post in the Thames, at one of the wharfs, and left there for two ebbings and two flowings of the tide. After this, there was certainly little chance of his committing more treason.Top of the Page

Baynard’s Castle, from the River, 1640

     It is not known how Baynard’s Castle, and the privileges belonging to the lordship, got out of the hands of this family; but in 1428, in the reign of Henry the Sixth, the building, having been burned down, is stated to have been restored by Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester. After the duke’s death it came once more into the possession of the crown; and here it was that the great council assembled in the beginning of March, 1461, which proclaimed the Earl of March King, by the title of Edward IV. It was here also, twenty-two years after, that the solemn farce was enacted in which Richard III. assumed the royal dignity on the invitation of Buckingham, and in obedience to the pretended wishes of the citizens. Shakspeare has given this scene with an exact conformity, in all the matters of fact, to the narratives of the old chroniclers; the crafty Protector, it will be remembered, being made to present himself in the gallery above, supported by a bishop on each side, while Buckingham, the lord mayor, the aldermen, and the citizens, occupy the court of the castle below. Baynard’s Castle was once more rebuilt in 1487, by Henry VII., with a view to its answering better the purpose of a royal palace; and the King occasionally lodged there. Some time after this we find the place in possession of the Earls of Pembroke, who made it their common residence; and it was here that the Earl of that name, on the 19th of July 1553, about a fortnight after the death of Edward VI., assembled the council of the nobility and clergy, at which the determination was taken, on the motion of Lord Arundel, to abandon the cause of Lady Jane Grey, and to proclaim Queen Mary, which, accordingly, was done in different parts of the city. This is supposed to have been the building which was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. It is represented in an old print of London as a square pile surrounding a court, and surmounted with numerous towers. A large gateway in the middle of the south side led to the river by a bridge of two arches and stairs. This ancient fortress was never rebuilt after the fire; and its site has been since occupied by wharfs, timber-yards, workshops, and common dwelling-houses. The ward, however, in which it was situated, and which embraces also St. Paul’s Churchyard, and nearly all the localities we have as yet noticed, still retains the name of the Ward of Baynard’s Castle.

     Upon Paul’s Wharf Hill, to the north-east of Baynard’s Castle, were a number of houses within a great gate, which are said by Maitland to have been designated, in the leases granted by the dean and chapter, as the Camera Dianœ, or Diana’s Chamber, and to have been so denominated from a spacious building in the form of a labyrinth, constructed here by Henry II. for the concealment of the fair Rosamond Clifford. We need scarcely say that this tradition has all the air of a fable. The author we have just named, however, assures us that “for a long time there remained some evident testifications of tedious turnings and windings, as also of a passage under ground from his house to Castle Baynard; which was no doubt the King’s way from thence to the Camera Dianœ,” [26] or the chamber of his “brightest Diana.” What the testifications may in question really have amounted to, we cannot pretend to say; but Diana, not being a family name, as in the case of another royal favourite, Diana of Poitiers, seems a strange one to have been given to the lady already christened by so poetical an appellation as Rosamond, and so different in her reputation from the chaste goddess. We should, for our parts, rather suppose that the dean and chapter had been moved to call the place Diana’s chamber by some tradition, or a conceit of their own, connecting it with the temple of that goddess, said to have formerly stood on the site of the neighbouring cathedral; or if the name was really a very ancient one, and in popular use, it may perhaps be taken as lending some slight confirmation to the notion of the actual existence of that heathen edifice, and may “help,” as lago phrases it, “to thicken other proofs that also demonstrate thinly.” Diana’s Chamber, however, may have been so called from its being hung with painted tapestry, representing some story of the goddess. Inigo Jones, by the way, is said by Lord Orford to be buried in the church of St. Bennet, Paul’s Wharf, which stands immediately to the south of the spot where we now are, at the corner formed by the meeting of Thames Street and St. Bennet’s Hill.Top of the Page

     Another building which formerly existed in this neighbourhood was the Royal Wardrobe. It occupied the site of the present Wardrobe Court, immediately to the north of the church of St. Andrew’s and gave to the parish the name of St. Andrew’s Wardrobe, by which it is still known. This building was erected about the middle of the fourteenth century, by Sir John Beauchamp, Knight of the Garter, a son of Guido, Earl of Warwick, by whose heirs it was sold to Edward III. Mr Malcolm has printed some extracts from the Manuscript Account Book, since preserved in the Harleian collection, of a keeper of this Wardrobe, from the middle of April to Michaelmas 1841 (towards the close of the reign of Edward IV.), which are interesting and valuable as memorials, both of the prices and of the fashions of that time. During the period, of less than six months, over which the accounts extend, the sum of £1,174, 5s. 2d. appears to have been received by the keeper, for the use of his office. Of this the most considerable portion seems to have been expended in the purchase of velvet and silks from Montpellier. The velvets cost from 8s. to 16s. per yard; black cloths of gold, 40s.; what is called velvet upon velvet, the same; damask, 8s.; satins, 6s., 10s., and 12s., camlets, 30s. a-piece; and sarcenets from 4s. to 4s. 2d. Feather beds, with bolsters, “for our sovereign lord the king,” are charged 16s. 8d. each. A pair of shoes, of Spanish leather, double soled, and not lined, cost 1s. 4d.; a pair of black leather boots, 6s. 8d.; hats, 1s. a-piece; and ostrich feathers, each 10s. The keeper’s salary appears to have been £100 per annum—that of his clerk, 1s. a-day; and the wages of the tailors 6d. a-day each. The King sometimes lodged at the Wardrobe; on one of which occasions the washing of the sheets which had been used is charged at the rate of 3d. a-pair. Candles cost 1d. a-pound. All the money disbursed by the keeper of the wardrobe, however, was not expended in decorating the persons of his Majesty and the royal household. Among other items we find 20s. paid to Piers Bauduyn (or Peter Baldwin, as we should now call him), stationer, “for binding, gilding, and dressing of a book called Titus Livius”; for performing the same offices to a Bible, a Froisard, a Holy Trinity, and the Government of Kings and Princes, 16s. each; for three small French books, 6s. 8d.; for the Fortress of Faith, and Josephus, 3s. 4d.; and for what is designated “the Bible Historical,” 20s. So that in those days, we see, the binding a book was conceived to be a putting of it into breeches, and the artist employed for that purpose looked upon as a sort of literary tailor.

     How impossible it would now be, in a neighbourhood like this, for such nuisances to exist, as a fetid public ditch, and scouts of degraded clergymen asking people to “walk in and be married!” Yet such was the case a century ago. At the bottom of Ludgate Hill the little river Fleet formerly ran, and was rendered navigable. In Fleet Market is Sea-coal Lane, so called from the barges that landed coal there; and Turn-again Lane, at the bottom of which the unadvised passenger found himself compelled by the water to retrace his steps. The water gradually got clogged and foul; and the channel was built over and made a street, as we have noticed in our introduction. But even in the time we speak of, this had not been entirely done. The ditch was open from Fleet Market to the river, occupying the site of the modern Bridge Street; and in the market, before the door of the Fleet prison, men plied in behalf of a clergyman, literally inviting people to walk in and be married. They performed the ceremony inside the prison, to sailors and others, for what they could get. It was the most squalid of Gretnas, bearding the decency and common-sense of a whole metropolis. The parties retired to a gin-shop to treat the clergyman; and there, and in similar houses, the register was kept of the marriages. Not far from the Fleet is Newgate; so that the victims had their succession of nooses prepared, in case, as no doubt it often happened, one tie should be followed by the others. Pennant speaks of this nuisance from personal knowledge.Top of the Page

     “In walking along the streets in my youth,” he tells us, “on the side next this prison, I have often be tempted by the question, ‘Sir, will you be pleased to walk in and be married.’ Along this most lawless space was frequently hung up the sign of a male and female hand conjoined, with Marriages performed within, written beneath. A dirty fellow invited you in. The parson was seen walking before his shop; a squalid, profligate figure, clad in a tattered plaid night-gown, with a fiery face, and ready to couple you for a dram of gin or roll of tobacco. Our great chancellor, Lord Hardwicke, put these demons to flight, and saved thousands from the misery and disgrace which would be entailed by these extemporary thoughtless unions.”

     This extraordinary disgrace to the city, which arose most likely from the permission to marry prisoners, and one great secret of which was the advantage taken of it by wretched women to get rid of their debts, was maintained by a collusion between the warden of the Fleet and the disreputable clergymen he became acquainted with. “To such an extent,” says Malcolm, “were the proceedings carried, that twenty and thirty couples were joined in one day, at from ten to twenty shillings each”; and “between the 19th Oct., 1704, and the 12th Feb., 1705, 2,954 marriages were celebrated (by evidence), besides others known to have been omitted. To these neither licence nor certificate of banns were required, and they concealed, by private marks, the names of those who chose to pay them for it.” The neighbourhood at length complained; and the abuse was put an end to by the Marriage Act, to which it gave rise.

     Ludgate and Fleet ditch figure among the scenes of the Dunciad. It is near Bridewell, on the site of the modern Bridge Street, that the venal and scurrilous heroes of that poem emulate one another, at the call of Dullness, in seeing who can plunge deepest into the mud and dirt.Top of the Page

“This labour past, by Bridewell all descend,
(As morning prayer and flagellation end), [27]
To where Fleet ditch, with disemboguing streams,
Rolls the large tribute of dead dogs to Thames;
The king of dykes! than whom no sluice of mud
With deeper sable blots the silver flood.
Here strip, my children! here at once leap in;
Here prove who best can dash through thick and thin;
And who the most in love of dirt excel,
And dark dexterity of groping well.” [28]

This part of the games being over,

“Through Lud’s famed gates, along the well-known Fleet,
Rolls the black troop, and overshades the street;
Till showers of sermons, characters, essays,
In circling fences whiten all the ways:
So clouds replenished from some bog below,
Mount in dark volumes and descend in snow.”

The “well-known Fleet” is the prison just mentioned, the side of which appears to have been visible at that time in Ludgate Hill, and where it was a joke (too often founded in truth) to suppose authors incarcerated.Top of the Page

“Few sons of Phœbus in the courts we meet;
But fifty sons of Phœbus in the Fleet,”

says a prologue of Sheridan’s. The Fleet having “rules,” like the King’s Bench, authors were found in the neighbourhood also. Arthur Murphy, provoked by the attacks of Churchill and Lloyd, describes them as among the poor hacks,

“On Ludgate Hill who bloody murders write,
Or pass in Fleet Street supperless the night.”

     Booksellers’ shops were then common as now in Fleet Street and the Strand, in Paternoster Row and St. Paul’s Churchyard. This is pleasant to think of; for change is not desirable without improvement. One feels gratified, where difference is not demanded of us, in being able to have the same association of ideas with such men as Pope and Dryden, even if it be upon no higher ground than the quantity of books in Paternoster Row, or the circumstance that Ludgate Hill still leads into Fleet Street.

Stone in Panyer Alley, Marking the Highest Ground in the City

Top of the PageNOTES

1. Brayley, vol. ii., p. 303.

2. In his Life, vol. iii., p. 98. Edit. 1827.

3. Unless, indeed, we are to suppose, as has been suggested, that Sermon Lane is a corruption of Sheremoniers Lane, that is, the lane of the money clippers, or such as cut and rounded the metal which was to be coined or stamped into money. There was anciently a place in this lane for melting silver, called the Blackloft—and the Mint was in the street now called Old Change, in the immediate neighbourhood. See Maitland, vol. ii., p. 880 (edit. of 1756).

4. Letters to Stella, in the duodecimo edition of his works, 1775. Letters, vol. vi., p. 43.

5. Boswell’s Life of Johnson, eighth edition, vol. iv., p. 93.

6. History of London, vol. ii., p. 925.

7. The Tatler. With notes historical, biographical, and critical. 8vo. 1797. Vol. iv., p. 206.

8. Pennant’s London, p. 377.Top of the Page

9. Of William III.

10. The genius of Clarke, which, agreeably to his unhappy end, was tender and melancholy, was unstilted to the livelier intoxication of Dryden’s Feast, afterwards gloriously set by Handel. Clarke has been styled the musical Otway of his time. He was organist at St. Paul’s, and shot himself at his house in St. Paul’s Churchyard. Mr John Reading, organist of St. Dunstan’s, who was intimately acquainted with him, was going by at the moment the pistol went off, and upon entering the house “found his friend and fellow student in the agonies of death.” Another friend of his, one of the lay vicars of the cathedral, relates of him, that a few weeks before the catastrophe, Clarke had alighted from his horse in a sequestered spot in the country, where there was a pond surrounded by trees, and not knowing whether to hang or drown himself, tossed up a piece of money to see which. The money stuck in the earth edgeways. Of this new chance for life, poor Clarke, we see, was unable to avail himself.

11. See Maitland, vol. ii., p. 949.

12. Londinium Redivivum, vol. ii., p. 473.

13. On the authority of Langton, Johnson’s friend. See Memoirs, Anecdotes, etc., by Letitia Matilda Hawkins, vol. i., p. 293.

14. Censura Literaria, vol. iii., p. 254.

15. Life, Diary, and Correspondence of Sir William Dugdale, by Hamper. Lond. 1827. Our memorandum has omitted the page. The letter was written to Dugdale by Randall Holme, a brother herald.Top of the Page

16. Another opinion, however, is that the spear had been given to one of his ancestors as having been a magistrate of some description. This supposition seems to be supported by the grant of arms to John Shakspeare in 1599, which has been printed by Mr Malcolm. But Shakspeares in Warwickshire are as plentiful as blackberries, and perhaps the name originated in the stout arms of a whole tribe of soldiers.

17. Vix ea nostra voco—(as above translated). The effect is stronger if the whole passage is called to mind. It is Ovid;

Nam genus, et proavos, et quæ non fecimus ipsi,
Vix ea nostra voco.—Metamor. lib. 13, v. 140.
For birth, and rank, and what our own good powers
Have earn’d us not, I scarcely call them ours.

     Ovid, himself a man of birth, puts this sentiment in the mouth of Ulysses, a king. But then he was a king whose talents were above his royalty.

18. Life of Gibbon, in the Autobiography, vol. i.

19. Lamb’s Specimens of English Dramatic Poets, p. 147.Top of the Page

20. Maitland, vol. i., p. 28.

21. Malcolm, Londinium Redivivum, vol. iv., p. 367.

22. Spectator, vol. i., No. 28.

23. Malone, in his Historical Account of the English Stage, has an ingenious parallel between these inn-theatres and the construction of the modern ones. “Many of our ancient dramatick pieces,” he observes, “were performed in the yards of carriers’ inns, in which, in the beginning of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, the comedians, who then first united themselves in companies, erected an occasional stage. The form of these temporary play-houses seems to be preserved in our modem theatre. The galleries in both are ranged over each other on three sides of the building. The small rooms under the lowest of these galleries answer to our present boxes; and it is observable, that these, even in theatres which were built in a subsequent period expressly for dramatick exhibitions, still retained their old name, and were frequently called rooms by our ancient writers. The yard bears a sufficient resemblance to the pit, as at present in use. We may suppose the stage to have been raised in this arena, on the fourth side, with its back to the gateway of the inn, at which the money for admission was taken. Thus in fine weather a play-house, not incommodious, might have been formed.” Reed’s Edition of Johnson’s and Steevens’s Shakspeare, vol. iii., p. 73.

24. Tatler, No. 127.

25. Londinium Redivivum, vol. ii., p. 375.

26. History of London, vol. ii., p. 880.

27. The whipping of the criminals in Bridewell took place after the church service.

Top of the Page28. Dunciad, book ii., v. 269.

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