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you behold the Tower of London," said Winwike, pointing downwards.
“If it is written in those towers, it is a dark and bloody history," replied the
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TOWER OF LONDON.
THERE is not, in this country, a building so replete with historical associations as the Tower OF LONDON. Its early character as a palace, a prison, and a fortress, immediately connected with the metropolis, has rendered an acquaintance with its annals indispensable to a knowledge of the history of our great nationannals which frequently supply, in their detail, those secret springs of political action, in the absence of which, the historian too frequently substitutes fancy for truth, and consequently produces, in the result of his labours, a mere tale founded on facts.
The opinions of antiquaries have been somewhat divided as to the origin of the Tower of London: by some it is supposed to have been erected by Julius Cæsar; but the majority have attributed the undertaking to William the Conqueror. The former conjecture was strengthened by a discovery made in 1777: it appears, that while employed in digging the foundations of a new office for the Board of Ordnance, the workmen at a considerable depth, came to some foundations of ancient buildings, below which were found three gold coins and a silver ingot: one of the coins was of the time of the emperor Honorius; the others of Arcadius, his brother, who reigned over the Eastern, as Honorius did over the Western Empire. The ingot was in the form of a double wedge, four inches long, weighing 10 oz. 8 gr. troy, and on the centre was impressed But the short time that the Roman conqueror remained in Britain, together with his total silence upon the subject of any such work on his part, are circumstances which have been deemed sufficiently strong to throw considerable doubt upon the Roman origin of these poetically-styled "Towers of Julius:" indeed, antiquarians have become nearly unanimous in ascribing the foundation of this citadel to the policy of the bold Norman.
It is, however, somewhat remarkable, that the earliest describer of the Tower, Fitz-Stephen, who lived in the twelfth century, has not ventured to suggest who laid its foundations: “London (says this ancient chronicler) hath on the east part, a Tower
EX. OFFIC. HONORII.
Palatine, very large and very strong, whose court and walls rise up from a deep foundation. The mortar is tempered with the blood of beasts." Whether the writer intended the latter expression to bear a literal meaning, or to convey thereby a bold: metaphor of the dark purposes to which the Tower of London was devoted, must of course be left to the judgment or fancy of the reader: but although in the course of its annals as a palace, its royal tenants have " welcom'd shout and revelry”-yet as a prison must it chiefly be regarded by posterity; calling up, in our recollections connected with its annals, tales of fearful and melancholy interest; associating it but too closely with the idea of a structure whose walls have indeed been cemented with blood! “ To those who remember (says Hallam) the annals of their country, that dark and gloomy pile affords associations, not quite so numerous and recent as the Bastile, yet enough to excite our hatred and horror. But standing, as it does, in such striking contrast to the fresh and flourishing constructions of modern wealth, the proofs and the rewards of civil and religious liberty, it seems like a captive tyrant, reserved to grace the triumph of a victorious republic; and should teach us to reflect in thankfulness, how highly we have been elevated in virtue and happiness above our forefathers.”*
We now proceed to relate, as far as our limits will admit, particula's connected with the above subject in its historical point of view; and will also submit to the reader in the course of our task, a list of the Tower Curiosities open to public view.
The lofty square building with white turrets, so conspicuous from Tower-hill and the surrounding neighbourhood, is that White Tower, which we have before remarked as the reputed work of William the Conqueror, who appointed Gundulph, then Bishop of Rochester, as principal supervisor and surveyor in this undertaking. But in the time of its founder, the Tower presented a naked and isolated appearance; and in the succeeding reign (that of William Rufus) is said, “ by the injury of the heavens and violence of tempest” to have been “
sore shaken :' our ancient chroniclers further tell us, and with much feeling, that the said Rufus “ challenged the investiture of prelates, and piil'd the people pitifully, to spend the treasure about the Tower of London and the great Hall at Westminster.” In this reign and that of Henry I. it appears that needful repairs were executed; and Stow in describing the improvements made by these monarchs, says “they also caused a castle to be builded under the said Tower, to wit, on the south side towards the Thames, and also encastelated the same round about.”
* Hallam's Constitutional History of England, vol. i. chap. 3