Зображення сторінки

had consumed their stocks of hay and oats, should not lay in any further provision, but lay the business entirely aside. And finally, that neither victuallers nor vintners should suffer cards, dicé, tables, or other unlawful game in their houses, under penalty of losing their licence."

The appearance of cordiality between the king and the citizens was kept up for some time ; and though the oppresu sions of the ministry were insupportable, the loyalty of the city was hitherto unabated. The royal family and the court were entertained, on their return from an excursion in Scotland, by the gentlemen of the inns of court, with a masque at Ely House, which for "curiosity of fancy, excellence in the performance, and splendor, had exceeded all former ex. hibitions of that nature," at an expence of 20000 l. and upwards. The procession passing by Whitehall, where it was again viewed by the royal family, so delighted the green, that she signified her desire to have the masque re. peated. This intimation induced Sir Ralph Freeman, the lord mayor, to give their majesties an invitation to dine at Mer. chant Taylor's Hall; where they were entertained with the utmost magnificence; the masques were again engaged to exhibit their pageantry in the city; and the entertainment was repeated with equal dexterity, splendor, and applause, as at Whitehall. It is a lamentable reflexion, that from the very window of the palace in which Charles placed himself to view these masquers, he was afterwards conducted to the masqued executioners, who bereft him of life on the scaffold!

A whimsical account of the state of buildings in the city of London, at this time, is given in Sir William Davenant's works, and, as it is curious and entertaining, the whole is sub. joined :

“ I will first take a survey of the long continued deformity of the shape of your city, which is of your buildings.

“ Sure your ancestors contrived your narrow streets in the days of wheel-barrows, before those greater engines, carts, were invented. Is your climate so hot, that as you walk, you need umbrellas of tiles to intercept the sun? or, are your shambles so empty, that ġou are afraid to take in fresh air, lest it should sharpen your stomachs ? Oh, the


goodly landskip of Old Fish Street! which, had it not had the ill luck to be crooked, wis narrow enough to have been your founder's perspective: and where the garrets, (perhaps not for want of architecture, but through abundance of amity) are so made, that opposite neighbours may shake hands without stirring from home. Is unanimity of inhabitants in wise cities better exprest than by their coherence and uniformity of building ; where streets begin, continue and end, in a like stature and shape? But yours (as if they were raised in a general insurrection, where every man hath a several design) differ in all things that can make distinction, Here stands one that aims to be a palace, and, next it, ano. ther that professes to he a hovel : here a giant, there a dwarf; here slender, there broad; and all most admirably different in faces as well as in their height and bulk. I was about to defie any Londoner, who dares pretend there is so much ingenious correspondence in this city, as that he can shew me one house like another : Yet your houses seem to be reverend and formal, being compared to the fantastical looks of the modern; which have more ovals, nieches, and angles, then are in your custards, and are inclosed with pasteboard walls, like those of malicious Turks, who, because them. selves are not immortal, and cannot dwell for ever where they build, therefore wish not be at charge to provide such lastingness as may entertain their children out of the rain ; so slight and prettily gaudy, that if they could move, they would pass for pageants. It is your custom, where men vary often the mode of their habits, to term the nation fantastical; but where streets continually change fashion, you should make haste to chain up the city, for it is certainly mad.

“ You would think me a malitious traveller, if I should still gaze on your mis-shapen streets, and take no more notice of the beauty of your river; therefore, I will pass the importunate noise of your watermen (who snatch at fares as if they were to catch prisoners, plying the gentry so uncivilly, as if they never had rowed any other passengers but bearwards) and now step into one of your peascod boats, whose tilts are not so sumptuous as the roofes of gundaloes, nor when you are within, are you at the ease of a chaise-a-bras.

The commodity and trade of your river belong to your selves; but give a stranger leave to share in the pleasure of it, which will hardly be in the prospect or freedom of air, unless prospect, consisting of variety, be made up with here a palace, there a wood-yard; here a garden, there a brewhouse,; here dwells a lord, there a dyer, and between both, duomo comune. If freedom of air be inferred in the liberty of the subject, where every private man hath authority, for his own profit, to smoak up a migistrate, then the air of your Thames is open enough, because it is equally free. I will forbear to visit your courtly neighbours at Wapping, not that it will make me giddy to shoot your bridge, but that I am loth to disturb the civil silence of Billingsgate, which is so great, as if the mariners were always landing to storm the harbour; therefore for brevity’s-sake, I will put to shoar again, though I should be constrained, even without my galoshoes, to land at Puddle Dock.

“I am now returned to visit your houses, where the roofs are so low, that I presume your ancestors were very mannerly, and stood bare to their wives; for I cannot discern how they could wear their high-crowned brats; yet, I will enter, and therein oblige you much, when you know my aversion to a certain weed that governs amongst your coarser acquaintance as much as lavender amongst your coarser linen ; to which, in my apprehension, your sea-coal smoak seems a very Portugal perfume. I should here hasten to a period, for fear of suffocation, if I thought you so ungracious as to use it in public assemblies: and yet, I see it grow so much in fashion, that me-thinks your children begin to play with broken pipes instead of corals, to make way for their teeth. You will find my visit short, I cannot stay to eat with you, because your bread is too heavy, and you disdain the light substance of herbs. Your drink is too thick, and yet you are seldom over-curious in washing your glasses. Nor will I lodge with you, because your beds seem no bigger than coffins; and your curtains so short, as they will hardly serve to inclose your carriers in summer, and may be held, if haflata, to have lined your grand-sires skirts. “ I have now left your houses, and am passing that of your


streets, but not in a coach, for they are uneasily hung, and so narrow, that I took them for sedans upon wheels; nor is it safe for a stranger to use them till the quarrel be decided whether six of your nobles, sitting together, shall stop and give way to as many barrels of beer. Your city is the only metropolis in Europe, where there is wonderful dignity be. longing to carts.

“ I would now make a safe retreat, but that methinks I am stopt by one of your heroic games, called Foot-ball; which I conceive, (under your favour) not very conveniently civil in the streets, especially in such irregular and narrow roads as Crooked Lane. Yet it argues your courage much like your military pastime of throwing at cocks; but your metal would be much magnified (since you have long allowed those two valiant exercises in the streets) to draw your archers from Finsbury, and during high market, let them shoot at butts in Cheapside. I have now no more to say, but what refers to a few private notes, which I shall give you in a whisper, when we meet in Moorfields, from whence, (because the place was meant for public pleasure, and to shew the munificence of your city,) I shall desire you to banish the laundresses and blechers, whose acres of old linen make a shew like the fields of Carthagena, when the five months shifts of the whole fleet are washt and spread."

About 1634, Francis Earl of Bedford began to clear away the old buildings, and formed the handsome square of Covent Garden. The arcade and the church were the work of Inigo Jones. Bedford-house, the former town-house of the noble family, stood in the Strand, but has long since given way to Little Bedford Street *.

The unhappy effects of the differences which now began to take place on account of prerogative and privilege, were severely felt by the city. The court had brought forward and insisted on the tax of Ship-money. This produced a petition from the city to the council for an abatement of

* This had originally been the garden belonging to the abbot of Westminster, which extended quite to St. Martin's Church. It was granted after the dissolution of monasteries, by Edward the Sixth, first to the protector Somerset, and lastly to Lord Russel, created earl of Bedford.


the number of ships rated upon the city, praying that his majesty would be graciously pleased to accept of ten. But this was absolutely rejected ; and, as if means were sought to perplex and oppress the Londoners, the privy council resumed the affair of Goldsmiths Row, in Cheapside and Lombard Street ; by an arbitrary letter in 1637, they in the king's name, commanded the lord mayor and aldermen to shut up all shops in those parts of the street not occupied by goldsmiths. This order was soon after enforced by decree of the court of Star Chanıber ; wherein, after reciting his majesty's commands to the citizens for that purpose, it was declared, “that if the alderman or nis deputy shall not forthwith cause to be shut up every such shop standing within his ward, in Cheapside and Lombard Street, which are not goldsmiths, upon knowledge thereof, the said alderman or his deputy shall be committed to prison by warrant from the board, &c.” The magistratęs paid no regard to this order, nor to a future letter, sent by the privy council to the lord mayor and aldermen, complaining of their neglect and refractoriness, and requiring them to acquaint the aldermen and their deputies of those wards in which Cheapside and Lombard Street are situated, “That if they did not forthwith put their former directions in that partie cular into execution, they would then give such further orders as should teach them to know that the commands of that board ought not to be slighted.”

The arbitrary measures of the court and the resistance of the house of commons, now involved the country in all the horrors of civil war; and the city, sorely oppressed by the burthens imposed upon her, took part with the king's ene. mies ; led by factious rulers, and in an ill hour furnished forces and money against her lawful sovereign; every means of accommodation having failed between the contending parties, Charles, in 1642, marched with fifteen thousand men from Northampton towards the capital. The parliament ordered the trained bands to be in readiness, and all the passages and avenues leading to the city to be fortified with posts, chains, and courts of guard. The ci. tizens were thrown into such terrors that persons of all


« НазадПродовжити »