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Whether we regard London as the emporium of the world, or the capital of the British empire, in every possible point of view, it will deserve and demand attention. Mr. Pennant, whose course is now honourably terminated; but to whose labours his country will ever be indebted, presented the public, some years ago, with the most popular description of this vast city ever written; and we have been proud to follow such a distinguished guide, as far as existing circumstances and the limits of our plan will permit. Our work indeed is intended for general use, and therefore it cannot reasonably be expected that we should enter into details, which in the particular historiaa are indispensably necessary. This we premise, less to gain the favour of our readers, than to obviate plausible objections which might be stated against our compendious account.
At the time of Cæsar's arrival in the island, London was the capital of the Trinobantes, or Tria nouantes, one of the many small nations into which
Britain was formerly divided. They had come so lately from Belgium, that they seem scarcely to have been firmly established in Britain, at the time of the first Roman invasion. For their new city, which soon after became so famous, was then so inconsiderable, that it is not mentioned by Cæsar, though he must have been within sight of the place where it was situated. The inhabitants submitted, however, to the conqueror: but soon became weary of extorted obedience to their new masters; and joined in the great revolt of the Britons under Boadicea, in the year 61, and shared very deeply in the miseries of that insurrection. From that time, the Trinobantes remained in peaceable subjection to the Romans, as long as they continued in the island. That sagacious people soon fixed their eyes on the new town of the Trinobantes; and observing its admirable situation for health, for pleasure, and for trade, great numbers of them settled in it, and gave it the name of LONDINJUM, from its situation, and of Augusta, from its grandeur. In the reign of Nero, as Tacitus informs us, London was become a city highly famous for the great conflux of merchants, her extensive commerce, and plenty of all things. No fewer than seven of the fourteen journeys (Itinera) of Antoninus, begin or end at London; which tends to corroborate the many proofs which might be adduced, that this city was the capital of Britain, even in the Roman times.
An immense forest originally extended to the river-side, and even as late as the reign of Henry II. covered the northern neighbourhood of the city, and was filled with various species of beasts of chace. It was defended naturally by fosses; one formed by the creek which ran along Fleet-ditch, the other, afterwards known by that of Walbrook. The south side was guarded by the Tham's. The north they
might think sufficiently protected by the adjacent forest.
Though it is probable that London only began to be much frequented between the first Roman invasion, under Julius, 55 years before Christ, and the second under Claudius A. D. 43; yet in less than twenty years after this last event, Tacitus describes it as “a city famous for its wealth and the great number of its merchants."
When the Romans became masters of London, they enlarged the precincts, and altered their form. It extended in length from Ludgate-hill to a spot a little beyond the Tower. The breadth was not half equal to the length, and at each end grew considerably narrower. The time in which the walls were built is very uncertain. Some ascribed the work to Constantine the Great, as numbers of coins of his mother, Helena, have been discovered under them.
The ancient course of the walls was as follows: It began with a fort near the present site of the tower, was continued along the Minories, and the back of Houndsditch, across Bishopsgate-street, in a straight line by London-wall to Cripplegate; then returned southward by Crowder's Well Alley, (where several remnants of lotty towers were lately to be seen) to Aldersgate; thence along the back of Buil and Mouth-street, to Newgate, and again along ihe back of the houses in the Old Bailey to Ludgate; soon after which, it probably finished with another fort, where the house, late the King's PrintingHouse, in Black Friars, now stands: from hence another wall ran near the river side, along Thamesstreet, quite to the fort on the eastern extremity.
The walls, were three miles, one hundred and sixty-five feet in circumference, guarded at proper distances, on the land side, with titteen lofty towers i and there were four gates. London-wall near Moor
fields, is now the most entire part left of that ancient precinct
The Barbican, the Specula or watch tower belonging to every fortified place, must not be omitted. This stood a little without the walls, to the northwest of Cripplegate.
In most parts of ancient London, Roman antiquities have been found, whenever it has been thought necessary to dig to any considerable depth. Beneath the old St. Mary-le-Bow were found the walls, windows, and pavement of a Roman temple; and not far from it, eighteen feet deep, in adventitious soil, was the Roman causeway*.
In digging the foundation for the rebuilding of St. Paul's was found a vast cemetry: first lay the Saxons, in graves lined with chalk-stones, or in coffins of hollowed stones; beneath them had been the bodies of the Britons, placed in rows.
Abundance of ivory and boxen pins, about six inches long, marked their place. These were supposed to have fastened the shrouds, in which the bodies were
wrapped. These perishing, left the pins entire. In the same sow,
but deeper, were Roman urns intermixed, lamps, lacrymatories; fragments of sacrificial vessels were also discovered, in digging towards the north-east corner; and in 1675, not far from the east corner, at a considerable depth, beneath some flinty pavement, were found numbers of vessels of earthen ware, and of glass, of most exquisite colours and beauty, some inscribed with the names of deities, heroes, or men of rank. Others ornamented with variety of figures in bass relief, of animals and of rose trees. 'Tessulæ of jasper, porphry, or marble, such as form the pavement we so often see, were also discovered. Also glass beads and rings, large
* In Leadenhall-street, a beautiful tessellated Roman pave. ment has been discovered, since the time of Pennant,
pins of ivory and bone, tusks of boars, and horns of deer sawn through. Other cemeteries and remains of Roman labour and skill have been discovered at different periods, within the precincts of London.
After the Romans abandoned Britain, a new and fierce race succeeded. The warlike Saxons, under their leaders Hengist and Horsa, landed in 448, at Upwines fleot, the present Ebbsflete, in the isle of Thanet. The Britons, however, remained masters of London at least nine years after that event; and by the year 604, it seems to have recovered from the ravages of the invaders. It became the chief town of the kingdom of Essex. Se. bert was the first Christian king: and his maternal uncle, Ethelbert, king of Kent, founded here a church, dedicated to St. Paul.
In the reign of that great prince Alfred, London, or, to use the Saxon name, Lundenburgh, wa: made by him capital of all England. In consequence of a vow he had made, he sent Sighelm, bishop of Sherbourn, first to Rome, and from thence to. India, with alms to the Christians of the town of St. Thomas, or Meliapour; who returned with various rich gems, some of which were to be seen in the church of Sherbourn, in the days of William of Malmesbury. It must not be omitted that he was the first who, from this island, had any intercourse with that distant country. Our commerce was secured by a variety of regulations at this period. By some laws made in a great council, or wittenagemot, held at Wantage*, during the reign of Ethelred, the rates Cof the customs, to be paid on the importation of different goods at the wharf of Billingsgate, were settled. From these laws it also appears, that there was a company of German merchants, called the
* The reputed birth-place of Alfred the Great.