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was sudden; for in a small space of time . was the subject of parliamentary investithe city was seen most flourishing, and galion. It is imputed to the Roman Careduced to nothing. Three days after, tholics, but a dispassionate considerwhen this fatal fire had baffled all human ation of all the circumstances by impartial counsels and endeavours, in the opinion men tends to acquit them of the crime, of all, it stopped, as it were, by a com- and most persons at this time believe mand from heaven, and was on every side thatextinguished. But papistical malice,
“ London's column pointing to the which perpetrated such mischiefs, is not
skies, yet restrained.”
Like a tall bully, rears its head and lies." A line, beginning on the west side, contains the following words; on James II. coming to the crown, they were eras
Thomas Vincent, a non-conformist ed, but restored under William III. :
minister, who was ejected from the living “This pillar was set up in perpetual of St. Mary Magdalen, in Milk-street, and remembrance of the most dreadful burn- during the great plague remained in the ing of this protestant city, begun and car- city, and preached regularly to the great ried on by the treachery and malice of the comfort of the inhabitants under the afficpopish faction, in the beginning of Sep witness of the subsequent conflagration.
tion of the raging pestilence, was an eyetember, in the year of our Lord,1666, in order to the carrying on their horrid plot the City by Plague and Fire," and has
He wrote “ God's terrible Judgments in for extirpating the protestant reigion, left a circumstantial relation in that work and old English liberty, and introducing of the progress made by the flames, and popery and slavery." The south side is thus inscribed :
their effects on the people. “ Charles the Second, son of Charles the
Vincent's Narrative. Martyr, king of Great Britain, France and It was the 2d of September, 1666, that Ireland, defender of the faith, a most gra- the anger of the Lord was kindled against cious prince, commiserating the deplora- London, and the fire began: it began in ble state of things, whilst the ruins were a baker's house, in Pudding-lane, by Fishyet smoaking, provided for the comfort street-hill; and now the Lord is making of his citizens, and the ornament of his London like a fiery oven in the time of city; remitted their taxes, and referred his anger, and in his wrath doth devour the petitions of the magistrates and inhab- and swallow up our habitations. It was itants to the parliament; who immedi- in the depth and dead of the night, when ately passed an act, that public works most doors and fences were locked up in should be restored to greater beauty, with the city, that the fire doth break forth and public money, to be raised by an imposi- appear abroad; and, like a mighty grant tion on coals; that churches, and the ca- refreshed with wine, doth awake and arm thedral of St. Paul's, should be rebuilt itself
, quickly gathers strength, when it from their foundations, with all magnifi- had made havoc of some houses; rusheth cence; that the bridges, gates, and pri- down the hill towards the bridge; crosseth sons should be new made, the sewers Thames-street, invadeth Magnus church, cleansed, the streets made straight and at the bridge foot; and, though that church regular, such as were steep levelled, and were so great, yet it was not a sufficient those too narrow made wider, markets barricado against this conqueror; but, and shambles removed to separate places. having scaled and taken this fort, it shootThey also enacted, that every house should eth flames with so much the greater adbe built with party walls, and all in front vantage into all places round about; and raised of an equal' height, and those walls a great building of houses upon the bridge all of square stone or brick ; and that no is quickly thrown to the ground: thea man should delay building beyond the the conqueror, being stayed in his course space of seven years."
at the bridge, marcheth back to the city An estimate of the value of property again, and runs along with great noise consumed by the fire amounted to ten and violence through Thames-street
, westmillions six hundred and eighty-nine ward; where, having such combustible thousand pounds, wherein was included matter in its teeth, and such a fierce wind the value of St. Paul's cathedral, which upon its back, it prevails with little was set down at nearly one-fifth of the resistance, unto the astonishment of the total. The occasion of the conflagration beholders.
Fire! fire! fire! doth resound the furious flames. Now goods are hastily streets; many citizens start out of their removed from the lower parts of the city; sleep, look out of their windows; some and the body of the people begin to retire, dress themselves and run to the place. and draw upwards, as the people did The lord mayor of the city comes with from the tabernacles of Korah, Datban, his officers; a confusion there is; counsel and Abiram, wben the earth did cleave is taken away; and London, so famous asunder and swallow them up: or rather for wisdom and dexterity, can now find as Lot drew out from his house in Sodom neither brains nor hands to prevent its before it was consumed by fire from ruin. The hand of God was in it; the heaven. Yet some hopes were retained decree was come forth; London must on the Lord's-day that the fire would be now fall, and who could prevent it? No extinguished, especially by them who wonder, when so many pillars are re- lived in the remote parts; they could moved, if the building tumbles; the pray- scarcely imagine that the fire a mile off ers, tears, and faith, which sometimes should be able to reach their houses. London hath had, might have quenched But the evening draws on, and now the violence of the fire; might have opened the fire is more visible and dreadful : heaven for rain, and driven back the wind: instead of the black curtains of the night, but now the fire gets mastery, and burns which used to be spread over the city, dreadfully.
now the curtains are yellow; the smoke That night most of the Londoners had that arose from the burning parts seemed taken their last sleep in their houses; like so much flame in the night, which they little thought it would be so when being blown upon the other parts by the they went into their beds; they did not wind, the whole city, at some distance, in the least suspect, when the doors of seemed to be on fire. Now hopes begin their ears were unlocked, and the case- to sink, and a general consternation seizmeats of their eyes were opened in the eth upon the spirits of people; little morning, to hear of such an enemy invad- sleep is taken in London this night; the ing the city, and that they should see amazement which the eye and ear doth him, with such fury, enter the doors of effect npon the spirit, doth either dry up their houses, break into every room, and or drive away the vapour which used to look out of their casements with such a bind up the senses. Some are at work threatening countenance.
to quench the fire with water; others enThat which made the ruin the more deavour to stop its course, by pulling dismal, was, that it was begun on the down of houses ; but all to no purpose Lord's-day morning : never was there the if it be a little allayed, or beaten down, like sabbath in London; some churches or put to a stand in some places, it is but were in flames that day; and God seems a very little while; it quickly recruits, to come down, and to preach himself in and recovers its force; it leaps and them, as he did in Mount Sinai, when mounts, and makes the more furious the mount burned with fire; such warm onset, drives back its opposers, snatcheth preaching those churches never had ; such their weapons out of their hands, seizeth lightning dreadful sermons never were upon the water-houses and engines, burns before delivered in London. In other them, spoils them, and makes them unfit churches ministers were preaching their for service. farewell sermons, and people were hearing On the Lord's-day night the fire had with quaking and astonishment: instead run as far as Garlick-bithe, in Thamesof a holy rest which christians have taken street, and had crept up into Cannonon this day, there is a tumultuous burry- street, and levelled it with the ground; ing about the streets towards the place and still is making forward by the waterthat burned, and more tumultuous hurry- side, and upward to the brow of the hill, ing upon the spirits of those that sat still, on which the city was built. and had only the notice of the ear of the On Monday, (the 3d) Gracechurchquick and strange spreading of the fire. street is all in flames, with Lombard-street,
Now the train-bands are up in arms on the left hand, and part of Fenchurch watching at every quarter for outlandish- street, on the right, the fire working Inen, because of ihe general fear and (though not so fast) against the wind that *ealousies, and rumours, that fire-balls way: before it were pleasant and stately were thrown into houses by several of houses, behind it ruinous and desolate them to help on and provoke the too heaps. „The burning then was in fashion
of a bow, a dreadful bow it was, such as and astonishment doth fall upon them at mine eyes never before had seen; a bow this unheard-of, unthought-of, judgment. which had God's arrow in it, with a flam- It would have grieved the heart of an ing point: it was a shiving bow; not like unconcerned person to see the rueful that in the cloud, which brings water looks, the pale cheeks, the tears trickling with it; and withal signified God's co- down from the eyes, (where the greatness venant not to destroy the world any more of sorrow and amazement could give leave with water : but it was a bow which had for such a vent,) the smiting of the breast, fire in it, which signified God's anger, the wringing of the hands; to hear the and his intention to destroy London with sighs and groans, the doleful and weepfire.
ing speeches of the distressed citizens, Now the flames break in upon Corn- when they were bringing forth their hill, that large and spacious street, and wives, (some from their child-bed,) and quickly cross the way by the train of their little ones (some from their sick. wood that lay in the streets untaken away, bed,) out of their houses, and sending which had been pulled down from houses them into the country, or somewhere into to prevent its spreading : and so they lick the fields with their goods. Now the the whole street as they go: they mount hopes of London are gone, their heart is up to the top of the highest houses; they sunk; now there is a general remove in descend down to the bottom of the lowest the city, and that in a greater hurry than vaults and cellars; and march along on before the plague, their goods being in both sides of the way, with such a roaring greater danger by the fire than their per. noise, as never was heard in the city of sons were by the sickness. Scarcely are London; no stately building so great as some returned, but they must remove to resist their fury: the Royal Exchange again, and, not as before, now without itself, the glory of the merchants, is now any more hopes of ever returning and invaded with much violence; and wisen living in those houses any more. once the fire was entered, how quickly Now carts, and drays, and coaches, and did it run round the galleries, filling them horses, as many as could have entrance with flames; then came downstairs, into the city, were loaden, and any money compasseth the walks, giving forth flaming is given for help; 5l. 101. 201. 301. for å volleys, and filleth the court with sheets cart, to bear forth into the fields some of fire : by-and-by down fall all the kings choice things, which were ready to be upon their faces, and the greatest part of consumed; and some of the carmen had the stone-building after them, (the foun- the conscience to accept of the highest der's statue only remaining,) with such a price, which the citizens did then offer in noise as was dreadful and astonishing. their extremity; I am mistaken if such
Then, then the city did shake indeed; money do not burn worse than the fire and the inhabitants did tremble, and flew out of which it was raked. Now casks of away in great amazement from their wine, and oil, and other commodities, are houses, lest the flames should devour tumbled along, and the owners shove as them; rattle, rattle, rattle, was the noise much of their goods as they can towards which the fire struck upon the ear round the gate : every one now becomes a porter about, as if there had been a thousand to himself, and scarcely a back either of iron chariots beating upon the stones: man or woman, that hath strength, but and if you opened your eye to the opening had a burden on it in the streets : it was of the streets, where the fire was come, very sad to see such throngs of poor citiyou might see, in some places, whole zens coming in and going forth from the streets at once in flames, that issued forth unburnt parts, heavy laden with some as if they had been so many great forges, pieces of their goods, but more heary from the opposite windows, which folding laden with weighty grief and sorry of together, were united into one great fame heart, so that it is wonderful they did not throughout the whole street; and then quite sink under these burdens. you might see the houses tumble, tumble, Monday night was a dreadful night : tumble, from one end of the street to the when the wings of the night had shadowed other, with a great crash, leaving the the light of the heavenly bodies, there was foundations open to the view of the no darkness of night in London, for the heavens.
fire shines now round about with a fearful Now fearfulness and terror doth sur. blaze, which yreldeth such light in the prise the citizens of London; confusion streets, as it had been the sun at noonday. Now the fire having wrought back- break through into Faith church underward strangely against the wind, to Bil- neath; now great flakes of stone scale and lingsgate, &c., along Thames-street, east- peel off strangely from the side of the ward, runs up the hill to Tower-street, walls; the conqueror having got this high and having marched on from Gracechurch- fort, darts its flames round about. Now street, making further progress in Fen- Paternoster-row, Newgate-market, the church-street, and having spread its wing Old Bailey, and Ludgate-hill, have subbeyond Queenhithe, in Thames-street, mitted themselves to the devouring fire, westward, mounts up from the water-side, which with wonderful speed rusheth down through Dowgate, and Old Fish-street, the hill into Fleet-street. Now Cheapside into Watling-street : but the great fury of fire marcheth along Ironmonger-lane, Old the fire was in the broader streets; in the Jewry, Lawrence-lane, Milk-street, Woodmidst of the night it was come down street, Gutter-lane, Poster-lane. Now it Cornhill, and laid it in the dust, and runs runs along Lothbury, Cateaton-street, &c. along by the Stocks, and there meets with From Newgate-market, it assaults Christanother fire, which came down Thread- church, and conquers that great building, needle-street; a little further with an- and burns through Martin's-lane towards other, which came up from Wallbrook; a Aldersgate, and all about so furiously, as little further with another, which comes if it would not leave a house standing up from Bucklersbury; and, all these four, upon the ground. joining together, break into one great Now horrible flakes of fire mount up flame at the corner of Cheapside, with the sky, and the yellow smoke of London such a dazzling light, and burning heat, ascendeth up towards heaven, like the and roaring noise, by the fall of so many smoke of a great furnace; a smoke so houses together, that was very amazıng'; great, as darkened the sun at noonday: and though it were something stopt in its (if at any time the sun peeped forth, it swift course at Mercers'-chapel, yet with looked red like blood :) the cloud of great force in a while it conquers the smoke was so great, that travellers did place, and burns through it; and then, ride at noonday, some miles together, in with great rage, proceedeth forward in the shadow thereof, though there were no Cheapside.
other cloud beside to be seen in the sky, On Tuesday (the 4th) was the fire burn- And if Monday night was dreadful, ing up the very bowels of London; Cheap- Tuesday night was more dreadful, when side is all in a light, (fire in a few hours far the greatest part of the city was contime,) many fires meeting there, as in the sumed : many thousands who on Saturcentre; from Soper-lane, Bow-lane, Bread- day had houses convenient in the city, street, Friday-street, and Old Change, the both for themselves, and to entertain fire comes up almost together, and breaks others, now have not where to lay their furiously into the Broad-street, and most head ; and the fields are the only recepof that side of the way was together in tacle which they can find for themselves flames, a dreadful spectacle; and then, and their goods; most of the late inpartly by the fire which came down by habitants of London lie all night in the Mercers'-chapel, partly by the fall of the open air, with no other canopy over them bouses cross the way, the other side is but that of the heavens: the fire is still quickly kindled, and doth not stand long making towards them, and threateneth after it. Now the fire gets into Black the suburbs; it was amazing to see how friars, and so continues its course by the it had spread itself several times in comwater, and makes up towards Paul's pass; and, amongst other things that church, on that side, and Cheapside fire night, the sight of Guildhall was a fearful besets the great building on this side, spectacle, which stood the whole body of and the church, though all of stone out- it together in view, for several hours toward, though naked of houses about it, gether, after the fire had taken it, without and though so high above all buildings in flames, (I suppose because the timber was the city, yet, within a while, doth yield to such solid oak,) in a bright shining coal, the violent assaults of the conquering as if it had been a palace of gold, or a Aames, and strangely takes fire at the great building of burnished brass. top: now the lead melts and runs down, On Wednesday morning, (the 5th) when as if it had been snow before the sun; and people expected that the suburbs would the great beams and massy stones with a be burnt, as well as the city, and with great noise fall on the pavement, and speed were preparing their flight, as well as they could, with their luggage into the streets, 13,200 dwelling-houses, eighty countries, and neighbouring villages, then nine churches, (besides chapels,) four o the Lord hath pity on poor London ; his the city gates, Guildhall, many public bowels began to relent; his heart is turned structures, hospitals, schools, libraries, and within him, and he stays his rough wind a vast number of stately edifices. in the day of the east wind; his fury begins to be allayed; he hath a remnant of The preceding relation by Thomas people in London, and there shall a rem- Vincent, with the philosophic Evelyn's, nant of houses escape: the wind now is will acquaint the reader with as much as husht; the commission of the fire is with- can here be told of the most direful visidrawing, and it burns so gently, even tations the metropolis ever suffered. Evewhere it meets with no opposition, that it lyn's account is in his “ Diary," or " Mewas not hard to be quenched, in many moirs" of himself, a manuscript which is places, with a few hands : now the citi- known to have been preserved from pro zens begin to gather a little heart, and bable destruction by Mr. Upcott. encouragement in their endeavours to
John Evelyn's Narrative. quench the fire. A check it had at Leadenhall by that great building; a stop Sept. 2, 1666. This fatal night, about it had in Bishopsgate-street, Fenchurch- ten, began that deplorable fire near Fishstreet, Lime-street, Mark-lane, and to- streete in London. wards the Tower; one means, under God, Sept. 3. The fire continuing, after was the blowing up of houses with gun- dinner I took coach with my wife and powder. Now it is stayed in Lothbury, sonn, and went to the Bankside in SouthBroad-street, Coleman-street; towards the wark, where we beheld that dismal specgates it burnt, but not with any great tacle, the whole citty in dreadful flames violence; at the Temple also it is stayed, neare the water side; all the houses from and in Holborn, where it had got no great the bridge, all Thames-street, and upfooting; and when once the fire was got wards towards Cheapeside downe to the under, it was kept under, and on Thurs- Three Cranes, were now consum'd. day the flames were extinguished.
The fire having continu'd all this night But on Wednesday night, when the (if I may call that night which was as people, late of London, now of the fields, light as day for ten miles round about, hoped to get a little rest on the ground, after a dreadful manner,) when conspiring where they had spread their beds, a more with a fierce eastern wind in a very drie dreadful fear falls upon them than they season : I went on foote to the same had before, through a rumour that the place, and saw the whole south part of French were coming armed against them the citty burning from Cheapeside to the to cut their throats, and spoil them of what Thames, and all along Cornehill, (for it they had saved out of the fire: they were kindld back against the wind as well as now naked and weak, and in ill condition forward,)Tower-streete, Fenchurch-streete, to defend themselves, and the hearts, es- Gracious-streete, and so along to Baipecially of the females, do quake and nard's-castle, and was now taking hold of tremble, and are ready to die within St. Paule's church, to which the scaffolds them; yet many citizens, having lost their contributed exceedingly. The conflagrahouses, and almost all that they had, are tion was so universal, and the people so fired with rage and fury: and they begin astonish'd, that from the beginning, I to stir up themselves like lions, or like know not by what despondency or fate, bears bereaved of their whelps, and now they hardly stirr'd to quench it, so that “ Arm! Arm!” doth resound the fields there was nothing heard or seene but and suburbs with a dreadful voice. We crying out and lamentation, running about may guess at the distress and perplexity of like distracted creatures, without at all the people this night, which was some- attempting to save even their goods, such thing alleviated when the falseness of the a strange consternation there was upon alarm was perceived.
them, so as it burned both in breadth and The ruins of the city were 396 acres; length, the churches, publiq halls, ex(viz. 333 acres within the walls, and 63 change, hospitals, monuments, and ornain the liberties of the city,) of the six and ments, leaping after a prodigious manner twenty wards, it utterly destroyed fif- from house to house and streete to streete, teen, and left eight others shattered, at greate distances one from the other; and half burnt; and it consumed 400 for the heate with a long set of faire and