Old and New London: Volume 1. Originally published by Cassell, Petter & Galpin, London, 1878.
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Grim Chronicles of Cheapside—Cheapside Cross—Puritanical Intolerance—The Old London Conduits—Mediæval Water-carriers—The Church of St. Mary-le-Bow—"Murder will out"—The "Sound of Bow Bells"—Sir Christopher Wren's Bow Church—Remains of the Old Church—The Seldam—Interesting Houses in Cheapside and their Memories—Goldsmiths' Row—The "Nag's Head" and the Self-consecrated Bishops—Keats' House—Saddler's Hall—A Prince Disguised—Blackmore, the Poet—Alderman Boydell, the Printsellen—His Edition of Shakespeare—"Puck"—The Lottery—Death and Burial.
The Cheapside Standard, opposite Honey Lane, was also a fountain, and was rebuilt in the reign of Henry VI. In the year 1293 (Edward I.) three men had their right hands stricken off here for rescuing a prisoner arrested by an officer of the City. In Edward III.'s reign two fishmongers, for aiding a riot, were beheaded at the Standard. Here also, in the reign of Richard II., Wat Tyler, that unfortunate reformer, beheaded Richard Lions, a rich merchant. When Henry IV. usurped the throne, very beneficially for the nation, it was at the Standard in Chepe that he caused Richard II.'s blank charters to be burned. In the reign of Henry VI. Jack Cade (a man who seems to have aimed at removing real evils) beheaded the Lord Say, as readers of Shakespeare's historical plays will remember; and in 1461 John Davy had his offending hand cut off at the Standard for having struck a man before the judges at Westminster.
Cheapside Cross, one of the nine crosses erected by Edward I., that soldier king, to mark the restingplaces of the body of his beloved queen, Eleanor of Castile, on its way from Lincoln to Westminster Abbey, stood in the middle of the road facing Wood Street. It was built in 1290 by Master Michael, a mason, of Canterbury. From an old painting at Cowdray, in Sussex, representing the procession of Edward VI. from the Tower to Westminster, an engraving of which we have given on page 313, we gather that the cross was both stately and graceful. It consisted of three octangular compartments, each supported by eight slender columns. The basement story was probably twenty feet high; the second, ten; the third, six. In the first niche stood the effigy of probably a contemporaneous pope; round the base of the second were four apostles, each with a nimbus round his head; and above them sat the Virgin, with the infant Jesus in her arms. The highest niche was occupied by four standing figures, while crowning all rose a cross surmounted by the emblematic dove. The whole was rich with highly-finished ornament.
Fox, the martyrologist, says the cross was erected on what was then an open spot of Cheapside. Some writers assert that a statue of Queen Eleanor first stood on the spot, but this is very much doubted. The cross was rebuilt in 1441, and combined with a drinking-fountain. The work was a long time about, as the full design was not carried to completion till the first year of Henry VII. This second erection was, in fact, a sort of a timber-shed surrounding the old cross, and covered with gilded load. It was, we are told, re-gilt on the visit of the Emperor Charles V. On the accession of Edward VI., that child of promise, the cross was altered and beautified.
The generations came and went. The 'prentice who had played round the cross as a newly-girdled lad sat again on its steps as a rich citizen, in robes and chain. The shaven priest who stopped to mutter a prayer to the half-defaced Virgin in the votive niche gave place to his successor in the Geneva gown, and still the cross stood, a memory of death, that spares neither king nor subject. But in Elizabeth's time, in their horror of imageworship, the Puritans, foaming at the mouth at every outward and visible sign of the old religion, took great exception at the idolatrous cross of Chepe. Violent protest was soon made. In the night of June 21st, 1581, an attack was made on the lower tier of images—i.e., the Resurrection, Virgin, Christ, and Edward the Confessor, all which were miserably mutilated. The Virgin was "robbed of her son, and the arms broken by which she stayed him on her knees, her whole body also haled by ropes and left ready to fall." The Queen offered a reward, but the offenders were not discovered. In 1595 the effigy of the Virgin was repaired, and afterwards "a newe sonne, misshapen (as borne out of time), all naked, was laid in her arms; the other images continuing broken as before." Soon an attempt was made to pull down the woodwork, and substitute a pyramid for the crucifix; the Virgin was superseded by the goddess Diana—"a woman (for the most part naked), and water, conveyed from the Thames, filtering from her naked breasts, but oftentimes dried up." Elizabeth, always a trimmer in these matters, was indignant at these fanatical doings; and thinking a plain cross, a symbol of the faith of our country, ought not to give scandal, she ordered one to be placed on the summit, and gilt. The Virgin also was restored; but twelve nights afterwards she was again attacked, "her crown being plucked off, and almost her head, taking away her naked child, and stabbing her in the breast." Thus dishonoured the cross was left till the next year, 1600, when it was rebuilt, and the universities were consulted as to whether the crucifix should be restored. They all sanctioned it, with the exception of Dr. Abbot (afterwards archbishop), but there was to be no dove. In a sermon of the period the following passage occurs:—"Oh! this cross is one of the jewels of the harlot of Rome, and is left and kept here as a love-token, and gives them hope that they shall enjoy it and us again." Yet the cross remained undisturbed for several years. At this period it was surrounded by a strong iron railing, and decorated in the most inoffensive manner. It consisted of only four stones. Superstitious images were superseded by grave effigies of apostles, kings, and prelates. The crucifix only of the original was retained. The cross itself was in bad taste, being half Grecian, half Gothic; the whole, architecturally, much inferior to the former fabric.
The uneasy zeal of the Puritanical sects soon
revived. On the night of January 24th, 1641, the
cross was again defaced, and a sort of literary contention began. We have "The Resolution of those
Contemners that will no Crosses;" "Articles of
High Treason exhibited against Cheapside Cross;"
"The Chimney-sweepers' Sad Complaint, and
Humble Petition to the City of London for erecting a Neue Cross;" "A Dialogue between the
Cross in Chepe and Charing Cross." Of these
here is a specimen—
Anabaptist. O! idol now,
Down must thou!
Be sure it shall.
Brownist. Helpe! Wren,
Or we are undone men.
I shall not fall,
To ruin all.
Cheap Cross. I'm so crossed, I fear my utter destruction is at hand.
Charing Cross. Sister of Cheap, crosses are incident to us all, and our children. But what's the greatest cross that hath befallen you?
Cheap Cross. Nay, sister; if my cross were fallen, I should live at more heart's ease than I do.
Charing Cross. I believe it is the cross upon your head that hath brought you into this trouble, is it not?
These disputes were the precursors of its final destruction. In May, 1643, the Parliament deputed Robert Harlow to the work, who went with a troop of horse and two companies of foot, and executed his orders most completely. The official account says rejoicingly:—
"On the 2nd of May, 1643, the cross in Cheapside was pulled down. At the fall of the top cross drums beat, trumpets blew, and multitudes of caps were thrown into the air, and a great shout of people with joy. The 2nd of May, the almanack says, was the invention of the cross, and the same day at night were the leaden popes burnt (they were not popes, but eminent English prelates) in the place where it stood, with ringing of bells and great acclamation, and no hurt at all done in these actions."
The 10th of the same month, the "Book of Sports" (a collection of ordinances allowing games on the Sabbath, put forth by James I.) was burnt by the hangman, where the Cross used to stand, and at the Exchange.
"Aleph" gives us the title of a curious tract, published the very day the Cross was destroyed:—"The Downfall of Dagon; or, the Taking Down of Cheapside Crosse; wherein is contained these principles: 1. The Crosse Sicke at Heart. 2. His Death and Funerall. 3. His Will, Legacies, Inventory, and Epitaph. 4. Why it was removed. 5. The Money it will bring. 6. Noteworthy, that it was cast down on that day when it was first invented and set up."
It may be worth giving an extract or two:—"I am called the 'Citie Idoll;' the Brownists spit at me, and throw stones at me; others hide their eyes with their fingers; the Anabaptists wish me knockt in pieces, as I am like to be this day; the sisters of the fraternity will not come near me, but go about by Watling Street, and come in again by Soaper Lane, to buy their provisions of the market folks. . . . I feele the pangs of death, and shall never see the end of the merry month of May; my breath stops; my life is gone; I feel myself a dying downwards."
Here are some of the bequests:—"I give my iron-work to those people which make good swords, at Hounslow; for I am all Spanish iron and steele to the back.
"I give my body and stones to those masons that cannot telle how to frame the like againe, to keepe by them for a patterne; for in time there will be more crosses in London than ever there was yet.
"I give my ground whereon I stood to be a free market-place.
"JASPER CROSSE, HIS EPITAPH.
'I look for no praise when I am dead,
For, going the right way, I never did tread;
I was harde as an alderman's doore,
That's shut and stony-hearted to the poore.
I never gave alms, nor did anything
Was good, nor e'er said, God save the King.
I stood like a stock that was made of wood,
And yet the people would not say I was good;
And if I tell them plaine, they're like to mee—
Like stone to all goodnesse. But now, reader, see
Me in the dust, for crosses must not stand,
There is too much cross tricks within the land;
And, having so done never any good,
I leave my prayse for to be understood;
For many women, after this my losse,
Will remember me, and still will be crosse—
Crosse tricks, crosse ways, and crosse vanities,
Believe the Crosse speaks truth, for here he lyes.
"I was built of lead, iron, and stone. Some say that divers of the crowns and sceptres are of silver, besides the rich gold that I was gilded with, which might have been filed and saved, yielding a good value. Some have offered four hundred, some five hundred; but they that bid most offer one thousand for it. I am to be taken down this very Tuesday; and I pray, good reader, take notice by the almanack, for the sign falls just at this time, to be in the feete, to showe that the crosse must be laide equall with the grounde, for our feete to tread on, and what day it was demolished; that is, on the day when crosses were first invented and set up; and so I leave the rest to your consideration."
Howell, the letter writer, lamenting the demolition of so ancient and visible a monument, says trumpets were blown all the while the crowbars and pickaxes were working. Archbishop Laud in his "Diary" notes that on May 1st the fanatical mob broke the stained-glass windows of his Lambeth chapel, and tore up the steps of his communion table.
"On Tuesday," this fanatic of another sort
writes, "the cross in Cheapside was taken down
to cleanse that great street of superstition." The
amiable Evelyn notes in his "Diary" that he himself saw "the furious and zelous people demolish
that stately crosse in Cheapside." In July, 1645,
two years afterwards, and in the middle of the
Civil War, Whitelock (afterwards Oliver Cromwell's
trimming minister) mentions a burning on the site
of the Cheapside cross of crucifixes, Popish pictures,
and books. Soon after the demolition of the cross
(says Howell) a high square stone rest was "popped
up in Cheapside, hard by the Standard," according
to the legacy of Russell, a good-hearted porter.
This "rest and be thankful" bore the following
"God bless thee, porter, who great pains doth take;
Rest here, and welcome, when thy back doth ache."
There are four views of the old Cheapside cross extant—one at Cowdray, one at the Pepysian library, Cambridge. A third, engraved by Wilkinson, represents the procession of Mary de Medicis, on her way through Cheapside; and another, which we give on page 331, shows the demolition of the cross.
The old London conduits were pleasant gathering places for 'prentices, serving-men, and servant girls—open-air parliaments of chatter, scandal, love-making, and trade talk. Here all day repaired the professional water-carriers, rough, sturdy fellows—like Ben Jonson's Cob—who were hired to supply the houses of the rich goldsmiths of Chepe, and who, before Sir Hugh Middleton brought the New River to London, were indispensable to the citizen's very existence.
The Great Conduit of Cheapside stood in the middle of the east end of the street near its junction with the Poultry, while the Little Conduit was at the west end, facing Foster Lane and Old Change. Stow, that indefatigable stitcher together of old history, describes the larger conduit curtly as bringing sweet water "by pipes of lead underground from Tyburn (Paddington) for the service of the City." It was castellated with stone and cisterned in lead about the year 1285 (Edward I.), and again new built and enlarged by Thomas Ham, a sheriff in 1479 (Edward IV.). Ned Ward (1700), in his lively ribald way describes Cheapside conduit (he does not say which) palisaded with chimney-sweepers' brooms and surrounded by sweeps, probably waiting to be hired, so that "a countryman, seeing so many black attendants waiting at a stone hovel, took it to be one of Old Nick's tenements."
In the reign of Edward III. the supply of water for the City seems to have been derived chiefly from the river, the local conduits being probably insufficient. The carters, called "water-leders" (24th Edward III.), were ordered by the City to charge three-halfpence for taking a cart from Dowgate or Castle Baynard to Chepe, and five farthings if they stopped short of Chepe, while a sand-cart from Aldgate to Chepe Conduit was to charge three-pence.
The Church of St. Mary-le-Bow, the sound of whose mellow bells is supposed to be so dear to cockney ears, is the glory and crown of modern Cheapside. The music it casts forth into the troubled London air has a special magic of its own, and has a power to waken memories of the past. This chef-d'œuvre of Sir Christopher Wren, whose steeple—as graceful as it is stately—rises like a lighthouse above the roar and jostle of the human deluge below, stands on an ecclesiastical site of great antiquity. The old tradition is that here, as at St. Paul's and Westminster, was a Roman temple, but of that there is no proof whatever. The first Bow Church seems, however, to have been one of the earliest churches built by the conquerors of Harold; and here, no doubt, the sullen Saxons came to sneer at the masse chanted with a French accent. The first church was racked by storm and fire, was for a time turned into a fortress, was afterwards the scene of a murder, and last of all became one of our earliest ecclesiastical courts. Stow, usually very clear and unconfused, rather contradicts himself for once about the origin of the name of the church—"St. Mary de Arcubus or Bow." In one place he says it was so called because it was the first London church built on arches; and elsewhere, when out of sight of this assertion, he says that it took its name from certain stone arches supporting a lantern on the top of the tower. The first is more probably the true derivation, for St. Paul's could also boast its Saxon crypt. Bow Church is first mentioned in the reign of William the Conqueror, and it was probably built at that period.
There seems to have been nothing to specially disturb the fair building and its ministering priests till 1090 (William Rufus), when, in a tremendous storm that sent the monks to their knees, and shook the very saints from their niches over portal and arch, the roof of Bow Church was, by one great wrench of the wind, lifted off, and wafted down like a mere dead leaf into the street. It does not say much for the state of the highway that four of the huge rafters, twenty-six feet long, were driven (so the chroniclers say) twenty-two feet into the ground.
In 1270 part of the steeple fell, and caused the death of several persons; so that the work of mediæval builders does not seem to have been always irreproachable.
It was in 1284 (Edward I.) that blood was shed, and the right of sanctuary violated, in Bow Church. One Duckett, a goldsmith, having in that warlike age wounded in some fray a person named Ralph Crepin, took refuge in this church, and slept in the steeple. While there, certain friends of Crepin entered during the night, and violating the sanctuary, first slew Duckett, and then so placed the body as to induce the belief that he had committed suicide. A verdict to this effect was accordingly returned at the inquisition, and the body was interred with the customary indignities. The real circumstances, however, being afterwards discovered, through the evidence of a boy, who, it appears, was with Duckett in his voluntary confinement, and had hid himself during the struggle, the murderers, among whom was a woman, were apprehended and executed. After this occurrence the church was interdicted for a time, and the doors and windows stopped with brambles.
The first we hear of the nightly ringing of Bow
bell at nine o'clock—a reminiscence, probably, of
the tyrannical Norman curfew, or signal for extinguishing the lights at eight p.m.—is in 1315
(Edward II.). It was the go-to-bed bell of those
early days; and two old couplets still exist, supposed
to be the complaint of the sleepy 'prentices of
Chepe and the obsequious reply of the Bow Church
clerk. In the reign of Henry VI. the steeple was
completed, and the ringing of the bell was, perhaps,
the revival of an old and favourite usage. The
"Clarke of the Bow bell, with the yellow lockes,
For thy late ringing, thy head shall have knockes."
To this the clerk replies—
"Children of Chepe, hold you all still,
For you shall have Bow bell rung at your will."
In 1315 (Edward II.) William Copeland, churchwarden of Bow, gave a new bell to the church, or had the old one re-cast.
In 1512 (Henry VIII.) the upper part of the steeple was repaired, and the lanthorn and the stone arches forming the open coronet of the tower were finished with Caen stone. It was then proposed to glaze the five corner lanthorns and the top lanthorn, and light them up with torches or cressets at night, to serve as beacons for travellers on the northern roads to London; but the idea was never carried out.
By the Great Fire of 1666, the old church was destroyed; and in 1671 the present edifice was commenced by Sir C. Wren. After it was erected the parish was united to two others, Allhallows, Honey Lane, and St. Pancras, Soper Lane. As the right of presentation to the latter of them is also vested in the Archbishop of Canterbury, and that of the former in the Grocers' Company, the Archbishop nominates twice consecutively, and the Grocers' Company once. We learn from the "Parentalia," that the former church had been mean and low. On digging out the ground, a foundation was discovered sufficiently firm for the intended fabric, which, on further examination, the account states, appeared to be the walls and pavement of a temple, or church, of Roman workmanship, entirely buried under the level of the present street. In reality, however (unless other remains were found below those since seen, which is not probable), this was nothing more than the crypt of the ancient Norman church, and it may still be examined in the vaults of the present building; for, as the account informs us, upon these walls was commenced the new church. The former building stood about forty feet backwards from Cheapside; and in order to bring the new steeple forward to the line of the street, the site of a house not yet rebuilt was purchased, and on it the excavations were commenced for the foundation of the tower. Here a Roman causeway was found, supposed to be the once northern boundary of the colony. The church was completed (chiefly at the expense of subscribers) in 1680. A certain Dame Dyonis Williamson, of Hale's Hall, in the county of Norfolk, gave £2,000 towards the rebuilding. Of the monuments in the church, that to the memory of Dr. Newton, Bishop of Bristol, and twenty-five years rector of Bow Church, is the most noticeable. In 1820 the spire was repaired by George Gwilt, architect, and the upper part of it taken down and rebuilt. There used to be a large building, called the Crown-sild, or shed, on the north side of the old church (now the site of houses in Cheapside), which was erected by Edward III., as a place from which the Royal Family might view tournaments and other entertainments thereafter occurring in Cheapside. Originally the King had nothing but a temporary wooden shed for the purpose, but this falling down, as already described (page 316), led to the erection of the Crown-sild.
"Without the north side of this church of St. Mary Bow," says Stow, "towards West Chepe, standeth one fair building of stone, called in record Seldam, a shed which greatly darkeneth the said church; for by means thereof all the windows and doors on that side are stopped up. King Edward caused this sild or shed to be made, and to be strongly built of stone, for himself, the queen, and other estates to stand in, there to behold the joustings and other shows at their pleasure. And this house for a long time after served for that use—viz., in the reigns of Edward III. and Richard II.; but in the year 1410 Henry IV. confirmed the said shed or building to Stephen Spilman, William Marchfield, and John Whateley, mercers, by the name of one New Seldam, shed, or building, with shops, cellars, and edifices whatsoever appertaining, called Crownside or Tamersilde, situate in the Mercery in West Chepe, and in the parish of St. Mary de Arcubus, in London, &c. Notwithstanding which grant the kings of England and other great estates, as well of foreign countries repairing to this realm, as inhabitants of the same, have usually repaired to this place, therein to behold the shows of this city passing through West Chepe—viz., the great watches accustomed in the night, on the even of St. John the Baptist and St. Peter at Midsummer, the example whereof were over long to recite, wherefore let it suffice briefly to touch one. In the year 1510, on St. John's even at night, King Henry VIII. came to this place, then called the King's Head in Chepe, in the livery of a yeoman of the guard, with a halbert on his shoulder, and there beholding the watch, departed privily when the watch was done, and was not known to any but whom it pleased him; but on St. Peter's night next following he and the queen came royally riding to the said place, and there with their nobles beheld the watch of the city, and returned in the morning."
The Builder, of 1845, gives a full account of the discovery of architectural remains beneath some houses in Bow Churchyard:—
"They are," says the Builder, "of a much later date than the celebrated Norman crypt at present existing under the church. Beneath the house No. 5 is a square vaulted chamber, twelve feet by seven feet three inches high, with a slightly pointed arch of ribbed masonry, similar to some of those of the Old London Bridge. There had been in the centre of the floor an excavation, which might have been formerly used as a bath, but which was now arched over and converted into a cesspool. Proceeding towards Cheapside, there appears to be a continuation of the vaulting beneath the houses Nos. 4 and 3. The arch of the vault here is plain and more pointed. The masonry appears, from an aperture near to the warehouse above, to be of considerable thickness. This crypt or vault is seven feet in height, from the floor to the crown of the arch, and is nine feet in width, and eighteen feet long. Beneath the house No. 4 is an outer vault. The entrance to both these vaults is by a depressed Tudor arch, with plain spandrils, six feet high, the thickness of the walls about four feet. In the thickness of the eastern wall of one of the vaults are cut triangular-headed niches, similar to those in which, in ancient ecclesiastical edifices, the basins containing the holy water, and sometimes lamps, were placed. These vaultings appear originally to have extended to Cheapside; for beneath a house there, in a direct line with these buildings and close to the street, is a massive stone wall. The arches of this crypt are of the low pointed form, which came into use in the sixteenth century. There are no records of any monastery having existed on this spot, and it is difficult to conjecture what the building originally was. Mr. Chaffers thought it might be the remains of the Crown-sild, or shed, where our sovereigns resorted to view the joustings, shows, and great marching matches on the eves of great festivals."
The ancient silver parish seal of St. Mary-leBow, of which we give an engraving on page 337, representing the tower of the church as it existed before the Great Fire of 1666, is still in existence. It represents the old coronetted tower with great exactitude.
The first recorded rector of Bow Church was William D. Cilecester (1287, Edward I.), and the earliest known monument in the church was in memory of Sir John Coventry, Lord Mayor in 1425 (Henry VI.). The advowson of St. Mary-leBow belongs to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and is the chief of his thirteen peculiars, or insulated livings.
Lovers of figures may like to know that the height of Bow steeple is 221 feet 8½ inches. The church altogether cost £7,388 8s. 7d.
It was in Bow parish, Maitland thinks, that John Hare, the rich mercer, lived, at the sign of the "Crown," in the reign of Henry VIII. He was a Suffolk man, made a large fortune, and left a considerable sum in charity—to poor prisoners, to the hospitals, the lazar-houses, and the alms-men of Whittington College—and thirty-five heavy gold mourning rings to special friends.
Edward IV., the same day he was proclaimed, dined at the palace at Paul's (that is, Bayhard's Castle, near St. Paul's), in the City, and continued there till his army was ready to march in pursuit of King Henry; during which stay in the City he caused Walter Walker, an eminent grocer in Cheapside, to be apprehended and tried for a few harmless words innocently spoken by him—viz., that he would make his son heir to the Crown, inoffensively meaning his own house, which had the crown for its sign; for which imaginary crime he was beheaded in Smithfield, on the eighth day of this king's reign. This "Crown" was probably Hare's house.
The house No. 108, Cheapside, opposite Bow Church, was rebuilt after the Great Fire upon the sites of three ancient houses, called respectively the "Black Bull," leased to Daniel Waldo; the "Cardinalle Hat," leased to Ann Stephens; and the "Black Boy," leased to William Carpenter, by the Mercers' Company. In the library of the City of London there are MSS. from the Surveys of Wills, &c., after the Fire of London, giving a description of the property, as well as the names of the respective owners. It was subsequently leased to David Barclay, linendraper; and has been visited by six reigning sovereigns, from Charles II. to George III., on civic festivities, and for witnessing the Lord Mayor's show. In this house Sir Edward Waldo was knighted by Charles II., and the Lord Mayor, in 1714, was created a baronet by George I. When the house was taken down in 1861, the fine old oak-panelled dining-room, with its elaborate carvings, was purchased entire, and removed to Wales. The purchaser has written an interesting description (privately printed) of the panelling, the royal visits, the Barclay family, and other interesting matters.
In 1861 there was sold, says Mr. Timbs, amongst the old materials of No. 108, the "fine old oak-panelling of a large dining-room, with chimneypiece and cornice to correspond, elaborately carved in fruit and foliage, in capital preservation, 750 fee superficial. "These panels were purchased by Mr. Morris Charles Jones, of Gunrog, near Welshpool, in North Wales, for £72 10s. 3d., including commission and expenses of removal, being about is. 8d. per foot superficial. It has been conveyed from Cheapside to Gunrog. This room was the principal apartment of the house of Sir Edward Waldo, and stated, in a pamphlet by Mr. Jones, "to have been visited by six reigning sovereigns, from Charles II. to George III., on the occasion of civic festivities and for the purpose of witnessing the Lord Mayor's show." (See Mr. Jones's pamphlet, privately printed, 1864.) A contemporary (the Builder) doubts whether this carving can be the work of Gibbons; "if so, it is a rare treasure, cheaply gained. But, except in St. Paul's, a Crown and ecclesiastical structure, be it remembered, not a corporate one, there is not a single example of Gibbons' art to be seen in the City of London proper."
Goldsmiths' Row, in Cheapside, between Old Change and Bucklersbury, was originally built by Thomas Wood, goldsmith and sheriff, in 1491 (Henry VII.). Stow, speaking of it, says: "It is a most beautiful frame of houses and shops, consisting of tenne faire dwellings, uniformly builded foure stories high, beautified towards the street with the Goldsmiths' arms, and likeness of Woodmen, in memorie of his name, riding on monstrous beasts, all richly painted and gilt." Maitland assures us "it was beautiful to behold the glorious appearance of goldsmith's shops, in the south row of Cheapside, which reached from the Old Change to Bucklersbury, exclusive of four shops."
The sign in stone of a nag's head upon the front of the old house, No. 39, indicates, it is supposed, the tavern at the corner of Friday Street, where, according to Roman Catholic scandal, the Protestant bishops, on Elizabeth's accession, consecrated each other in a very irregular manner.
Pennant thus relates the scandalous story:—"It was pretended by the adversaries of our religion, that a certain number of ecclesiastics, in their hurry to take possession of the vacant sees, assembled here, where they were to undergo the ceremony from Anthony Kitchen, alias Dunstan, Bishop of Llandaff, a sort of occasional conformist, who had taken the oaths of supremacy to Queen Elizabeth. Bonner, Bishop of London, then confined in prison, hearing of it, sent his chaplain to Kitchen, threatening him with excommunication in case he proceeded. The prelate, therefore, refused to perform the ceremony; on which, say the Roman Catholics, Parker and the other candidates, rather than defer possession of their dioceses, determined to consecrate one another, which, says the story, they did without any sort of scruple, and Story began with Parker, who instantly rose Archbishop of Canterbury. The simple refutation of this lying story may be read in Strype's 'Life of Archbishop Parker.'" The "Nag's Head Tavern" is shown in La Serre's print, "Entrée de la Reyne Mère du Roy," 1638, of which we gave a copy on page 307 of this work.
"The confirmation," says Strype, "was performed three days after the Queen's letters commissional above-said; that is, on the 9th day of December, in the Church of St. Mary de Arcubus (i.e. Maryle-Bow, in Cheapside), regularly, and according to the usual custom; and then after this manner:—First, John Incent, public notary, appeared personally, and presented to the Right Reverend the Commissaries, appointed by the Queen, her said letters to them directed in that behalf; humbly praying them to take upon them the execution of the said letters, and to proceed according to the contents thereof, in the said business of confirmation. And the said notary public publicly read the Queen's commissional letters. Then, out of the reverence and honour those bishops present (who were Barlow, Story, Coverdale, and the suffragan of Bedford), bore to her Majesty, they took upon them the commission, and accordingly resolved to proceed according to the form, power, and effect of the said letters. Next, the notary exhibited his proxy for the Dean and Chapter of the Metropolitan Church, and made himself a party for them; and, in the procuratorial name of the said Dean and Chapter, presented the venerable Mr. Nicolas Bullingham, LL.D., and placed him before the said commissioners; who then exhibited his proxy for the said elect of Canterbury, and made himself a party for him. Then the said notary exhibited the original citatory mandate, together with the certificate on the back side, concerning the execution of the same; and then required all and singular persons cited, to be publicly called. And consequently a threefold proclamation was made, of all and singular opposers, at the door of the parochial church aforesaid; and so as is customary in these cases.
"Then, at the desire of the said notary to go on in this business of confirmation, they, the commissioners, decreed so to do, as was more fully contained in a schedule read by Bishop Barlow, with the consent of his colleagues. It is too long to relate distinctly every formal proceeding in this business; only it may be necessary to add some few of the most material passages.
"Then followed the deposition of witnesses concerning the life and actions, learning and abilities of the said elect; his freedom, his legitimacy, his priesthood, and such like. One of the witnesses was John Baker, of thirty-nine years old, gent., who is said to sojourn for the present with the venerable Dr. Parker, and to be born in the parish of St. Clement's, in Norwich. He, among other things, witnessed, 'That the same reverend father was and is a prudent man, commended for his knowledge of sacred Scripture, and for his life and manners. That he was a freeman, and born in lawful matrimony; that he was in lawful age, and in priest's orders, and a faithful subject to the Queen;' and the said Baker, in giving the reason of his knowledge in this behalf, said, 'That he was the natural brother of the Lord Elect, and that they were born ex unis parentibus' (or rather, surely, ex una parente, i.e., of one mother). William Tolwyn, M.A., aged seventy years, and rector of St. Anthony, London, was another witness, who had known the said elect thirty years, and knew his mother, and that he was still very well acquainted with him, and of his certain knowledge could testify all above said.
"The notary exhibited the process of the election by the Dean and Chapter; which the commissioners did take a diligent view of, and at last, in the conclusion of this affair, the commissioners decreed the said most reverend lord elected and presently confirmed, should receive his consecration; and committed to him the care, rule, and administration, both of the temporals and spirituals of the said archbishopric; and decreed him to be inducted into the real, actual, and corporal possession of the same archbishopric.
"After many years the old story is ventured again into the world, in a book printed at Douay, anno 1654, wherein they thus tell their tale. 'I know they (i.e., the Protestants) have tried many ways, and feigned an old record (meaning the authentic register of Archbishop Parker) to prove their ordination from Catholic bishops. But it was false, as I have received from two certain witnesses. The former of them was Dr. Darbyshire, then Dean of St. Paul's (canon there, perhaps, but never dean), and nephew to Dr. Boner, Bishop of London; who almost sixty years since lived at Meux Port, then a holy, religious man (a Jesuit), very aged, but perfect in sense and memory, who, speaking what he knew, affirmed to myself and another with me, that like good fellows they made themselves bishops at an inn, because they could get no true bishops to consecrate them. My other witness was a gentleman of honour, worth, and credit, dead not many years since, whose father, a chief judge of this kingdom, visiting Archbishop Heath, saw a letter, sent from Bishop Boner out of the Marshalsea, by one of his chaplains, to the archbishop, read, while they sat at dinner together; wherein he merrily related the manner how these new bishops (because he had dissuaded Ogelthorp, Bishop of Carlisle, from doing it in his diocese) ordained one another at an inn, where they met together. And while others laughed at this new manner of consecrating bishops, the archbishop himself, gravely, and not without tears, expressed his grief to see such a ragged company of men come poor out of foreign parts, and appointed to succeed the old clergy.'
"Which forgery, when once invented, was so acceptable to the Romanists, that it was most confidently repeated again in an English book, printed at Antwerp, 1658, permissione superiorum, being a second edition, licensed by Gulielmo Bolognimo, where the author sets down his story in these words:—'The heretics who were named to succeed in the other bishops' sees, could not prevail with Llandaff (whom he calls a little before an old simple man) to consecrate them at the "Nag's Head," in Cheapside, where they appointed to meet him. And therefore they made use of Story, who was never ordained bishop, though he bore the name in King Edward's reign. Kneeling before him, he laid the Bible upon their heads or shoulders, and bid them rise up and preach the word of God sincerely. 'This is,' added he, 'so evident a truth, that for the space of fifty years no Protestant durst contradict it.'"
"The form adopted at the confirmation of Archbishop Parker," says Dr. Pusey in a letter dated 1865, quoted by Mr. Timbs, "was carefully framed on the old form used in the confirmations by Archbishop Chichele (which was the point for which I examined the registers in the Lambeth library). The words used in the consecration of the bishops confirmed by Chichele do not occur in the registers. The words used by the consecrators of Parker, 'Accipe Spiritum sanctum,' were read in the later pontificals, as in that of Exeter, Lacy's (Maskell's 'Monumenta Ritualia,' iii. 258). Roman Catholic writers admit that only is essential to consecration which the English service-book retained—prayer during the service, which should have reference to the office of bishop, and the imposition of hands. And, in fact, Cardinal Pole engaged to retain in their orders those who had been so ordained under Edward VI., and his act was confirmed by Paul IV." (Sanders, De Schism. Angl., 1. iii. 350.)
The house No. 73, Cheapside, shown in our illustration on page 343, was erected, from the design of Sir Christopher Wren, for Sir William Turner, Knight, who served the office of Lord Mayor in the year 1668–9, and here he kept his mayoralty.
At the "Queen's Arms Tavern," No. 71, Cheapside, the poet Keats once lived. The second floor of the house which stretches over the passage leading to this tavern was his lodging. Here, says Cunningham, he wrote his magnificent sonnet on Chapman's "Homer," and all the poems in his first little volume. Keats, the son of a liverystable keeper in Moorfields, was born in 1795, and died of consumption at Rome in 1821. He published his "Endymion" (the inspiration suggested from Lempriere alone) in 1818. We annex the glorious sonnet written within sound of Bow bells:—
ON FIRST LOOKING INTO CHAPMAN'S "HOMER."
"Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been,
Which bards, in fealty to Apollo, hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold;
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He stared at the Pacific—and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild sunrise—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien."
Behnes' poor bald statue of Sir Robert Peel, in the Paternoster Row end of Cheapside, was uncovered July 21st, 1855. The Builder at the time justly lamented that so much good metal was wasted. The statue is without thought—the head is set on the neck awkwardly, the pedestal is senseless, and the two double lamps at the side are mean and paltry.
Saddlers' Hall is close to Foster Lane, Cheapside. "Near unto this lane," says Strype, "but in Cheapside, is Saddlers' Hall—a pretty good building, seated at the upper end of a handsome alley, near to which is Half Moon Alley, which is but small, at the upper end of which is a tavern, which gives a passage into Foster Lane, and another into Gutter Lane."
"This appears," says Maitland, "to be a fraternity of great antiquity, by a convention agreed upon between them and the Dean and Chapter of St. Martin's-le-Grand, about the reign of Richard I., at which time I imagine it to have been an Adulterine Guild, seeing it was only incorporated by letters patent of Edward I., by the appellation of 'The Wardens, or Keepers and Commonalty of the Mystery or Art of Sadlers, London.' This company is governed by a prime and three other wardens, and eighteen assistants, with a livery of seventy members, whose fine of admission is ten pounds. (fn. 1) At the entrance is an ornamental doorcase, and an iron gate, and it is a very complete building for the use of such a company. It is adorned with fret-work and wainscot, and the Company's arms are carved in stone over the gate next the street."
In 1736, Prince Frederick of Wales, that hopeless creature, being desirous of seeing the Lord Mayor's show privately, visited the City in disguise. At that time it was the custom for several of the City companies, particularly for those who had no barges, to have stands erected in the streets through which the Lord Mayor passed on his return from Westminster, in which the freemen of companies were accustomed to assemble. It happened that his Royal Highness was discovered by some of the Saddlers' Company, in consequence of which he was invited to their stand, which invitation he accepted, and the parties were so well pleased with each other that his Royal Highness was soon after chosen Master of the Company, a compliment which he also accepted. The City on that occasion formed a resolution to compliment his Royal Highness with the freedom of London, pursuant to which the Court of Lord Mayor and Aldermen attended the prince, on the 17th of December, with the said freedom, of which the following is a copy:—
"The most high, most potent, and most illustrious Prince Frederick Lewis, Prince of Great Britain, Electoral Prince of Brunswick-Lunenburg, Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothsay, Duke of Edinburgh, Marquis of the Isle of Ely, Earl of Eltham, Earl of Chester, Viscount Launceston, Baron of Renfrew, Baron of Snowdon, Lord of the Isles, Steward of Scotland, Knight of the most noble Order of the Garter, and one of his Majesty's most honourable Privy Council, of his mere grace and princely favour, did the most august City of London the honour to accept the freedom thereof, and was admitted of the Company of the Saddlers, in the time of the Right Honourable Sir John Thompson, Knight, Lord Mayor, and John Bosworth, Esq., Chamberlain of the said City." In his "Industry and Idleness," Hogarth shows us the prince and princess on the balcony of Saddler's Hall.
That dull poet, worthy Sir Richard Blackmore,
whom Locke and Addison praised and Dryden
ridiculed, lived either at Saddlers' Hall or just
opposite. It was on this weariful Tupper of his
day that Garth wrote these verses:—
"Unwieldy pedant, let thy awkward muse,
With censures praise, with flatteries abuse.
To lash, and not be felt, in thee's an art;
Thou ne'er mad'st any but thy schoolboys smart.
Then be advis'd, and scribble not agen;
Thou'rt fashioned for a flail, and not a pen.
If B—l's immortal wit thou wouldst descry,
Pretend 'tis he that writ thy poetry.
Thy feeble satire ne'er can do him wrong;
Thy poems and thy patients live not long."
And some other satirical verses on Sir Richard
"'Twas kindly done of the good-natured cits,
To place before thy door a brace of tits."
Blackmore, who had been brought up as an attorney's clerk and schoolmaster, wrote most of his verses in his carriage, as he drove to visit his patients, a feat to which Dryden alludes when he talks of Blackmore writing to the "rumbling of his carriage-wheels."
At No. 90, Cheapside lived Alderman Boydell, engraver and printseller, a man who in his time did more for English art than all the English monarchs from the Conquest downwards. He was apprenticed, when more than twenty years old, to Mr. Tomson, engraver, and soon felt a desire to popularise and extend the art. His first funds he derived from the sale of a book of 152 humble prints, engraved by himself. With the profits he was enabled to pay the best engravers liberally, to make copies of the works of our best masters.
"The alderman assured me," says "Rainy Day Smith," "that when he commenced publishing, he etched small plates of landscapes, which he produced in plates of six, and sold for sixpence; and that as there were very few print-shops at that time in London, he prevailed upon the sellers of children's toys to allow his little books to be put in their windows. These shops he regularly visited every Saturday, to see if any had been sold, and to leave more. His most successful shop was the sign of the 'Cricket Bat,' in Duke's Court, St. Martin's Lane, where he found he had sold as many as came to five shillings and sixpence. With this success he was so pleased, that, wishing to invite the shopkeeper to continue in his interest, he laid out the money in a silver pencil-case; which article, after he had related the above anecdote, he took out of his pocket and assured me he never would part with. He then favoured me with the following history of Woollett's plate of the 'Niobe,' and, as it is interesting, I shall endeavour to relate it in Mr. Boydell's own words:—
"'When I got a little forward in the world,' said the venerable alderman, 'I took a whole shop, for at my commencement I kept only half a one. In the course of one year I imported numerous impressions of Vernet's celebrated "Storm," so admirably engraved by Lerpinière, for which I was obliged to pay in hard cash, as the French took none of our prints in return. Upon Mr. Woollett's expressing himself highly delighted with the "Storm," I was induced, knowing his ability as an engraver, to ask him if he thought he could produce a print of the same size which I could send over, so that in future I could avoid payment in money, and prove to the French nation that an Englishman could produce a print of equal merit; upon which he immediately declared that he should like much to try.
"'At this time the principal conversation among artists was upon Mr. Wilson's grand picture of "Niobe," which had just arrived from Rome. I therefore immediately applied to his Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester, its owner, and procured permission for Woollett to engrave it. But before he ventured upon the task, I requested to know what idea he had as to the expense, and after some consideration, he said he thought he could engrave it for one hundred guineas. This sum, small as it may now appear, was to me,' observed the alderman, 'an unheard-of price, being considerably more than I had given for any copper-plate. However, serious as the sum was, I bade him get to work, and he proceeded with all cheerfulness, for as he went on I advanced him money; and though he lost no time, I found that he had received nearly the whole amount before he had half finished his task. I frequently called upon him, and found him struggling with serious difficulties, with his wife and family, in an upper lodging in Green's Court, Castle Street, Leicester Square, for there he lived before he went into Green Street. However, I encouraged him by allowing him to draw on me to the extent of twenty-five pounds more; and at length that sum was paid, and I was unavoidably under the necessity of saying, "Mr. Woollett, I find we have made too close a bargain with each other. You have exerted yourself, and I fear I have gone beyond my strength, or, indeed, what I ought to have risked, as we neither of us can be aware of the success of the speculation. However, I am determined, whatever the event may be, to enable you to finish it to your wish—at least, to allow you to work upon it as long as another twentyfive pounds can extend, but there we must positively stop." The plate was finished; and, after taking very few proofs, I published the print at five shillings, and it succeeded so much beyond my expectations, that I immediately employed Mr. Woollett upon another engraving, from another picture by Wilson; and I am now thoroughly convinced that had I continued publishing subjects of this description, my fortune would have been increased tenfold.'"
"In the year 1786," says Knowles, in his "Life of Fuseli," "Mr. Alderman Boydell, at the suggestion of Mr. George Nicol, began to form his splendid collection of modern historical pictures, the subjects being from Shakespeare's plays, and which was called 'The Shakespeare Gallery.' This liberal and well-timed speculation gave great energy to this branch of the art, as well as employment to many of our best artists and engravers, and among the former to Fuseli, who executed eight large and one small picture for the gallery. The following were the subjects: 'Prospero,' 'Miranda,' 'Caliban,' and 'Ariel,' from the Tempest; 'Titania in raptures with Bottom, who wears the ass's head, attendant fairies, &c.;' 'Titania awaking, discovers Oberon at her side, Puck is removing the ass's head from Bottom' (Midsummer Night's Dream); 'Henry V. with the Conspirators' (King Henry V.); 'Lear dismissing Cordelia from his Court' (King Lear); 'Ghost of Hamlet's Father' (Hamlet); 'Falstaff and Doll' (King Henry IV., Second Part); 'Macbeth meeting the Witches on the Heath' (Macbeth); 'Robin Goodfellow' (Midsummer Night's Dream). This gallery gave the public an opportunity of judging of Fuseli's versatile powers.
"The stately majesty of the 'Ghost of Hamlet's Father' contrasted with the expressive energy of his son, and the sublimity brought about by the light, shadow, and general tone, strike the mind with awe. In the picture of 'Lear' is admirably portrayed the stubborn rashness of the father, the filial piety of the discarded daughter, and the wicked determination of Regan and Goneril. The fairy scenes in Midsummer Night's Dream amuse the fancy, and show the vast inventive powers of the painter; and 'Falstaff with Doll' is exquisitely ludicrous.
"The example set by Boydell was a stimulus to other speculators of a similar nature, and within a few years appeared the Macklin and Woodmason galleries; and it may be said with great truth that Fuseli's pictures were among the most striking, if not the best, in either collection."
"A.D. 1787," says Northcote, in his "Life of Reynolds," "when Alderman Boydell projected the scheme of his magnificent edition of the plays of Shakespeare, accompanied with large prints from pictures to be executed by English painters, it was deemed to be absolutely necessary that something of Sir Joshua's painting should be procured to grace the collection; but, unexpectedly, Sir Joshua appeared to be rather shy in the business, as if he thought it degrading himself to paint for a printseller, and he would not at first consent to be employed in the work. George Stevens, the editor of Shakespeare, now undertook to persuade him to comply, and, taking a bank-bill of five hundred pounds in his hand, he had an interview with Sir Joshua, when, using all his eloquence in argument, he, in the meantime, slipped the bank-bill into his hand; he then soon found that his mode of reasoning was not to be resisted, and a picture was promised. Sir Joshua immediately commenced his studies, and no less than three paintings were exhibited at the Shakespeare Gallery, or at least taken from that poet, the only ones, as has been very correctly said, which Sir Joshua ever executed for his illustration, with the exception of a head of 'King Lear' (done indeed in 1783), and now in possession of the Marchioness of Thomond, and a portrait of the Hon. Mrs. Tollemache, in the character of 'Miranda,' in The Tempest, in which 'Prospero' and 'Caliban' are introduced.
"One of these paintings for the Gallery was 'Puck,' or 'Robin Goodfellow,' as it has been called, which, in point of expression and animation, is unparalleled, and one of the happiest efforts of Sir Joshua's pencil, though it has been said by some cold critics not to be perfectly characteristic of the merry wanderer of Shakespeare. 'Macbeth,' with the witches and the caldron, was another, and for this last Mr. Boydell paid him 1,000 guineas; but who is now the possessor of it I know not.
"'Puck' was painted in 1789. Walpole depreciates it as 'an ugly little imp (but with some character) sitting on a mushroom half as big as a mile-stone.' Mr. Nicholls, of the British Institution, related to Mr. Cotton that the alderman and his grandfather were with Sir Joshua when painting the death of Cardinal Beaufort. Boydell was much taken with the portrait of a naked child, and wished it could be brought into the Shakspeare. Sir Joshua said it was painted from a little child he found sitting on his steps in Leicester Square. Nicholls' grandfather then said, 'Well, Mr. Alderman, it can very easily come into the Shakspeare if Sir Joshua will kindly place him upon a mushroom, give him fawn's ears, and make a Puck of him.' Sir Joshua liked the notion, and painted the picture accordingly.
"The morning of the day on which Sir Joshua's 'Puck' was to be sold, Lord Farnborough and Davies, the painter, breakfasted with Mr. Rogers, and went to the sale together. When the picture was put up there was a general clapping of hands, and yet it was knocked down to Mr. Rogers for 105 guineas. As he walked home from the sale, a man carried 'Puck' before him, and so well was the picture known that more than one person, as they were going along the street, called out, 'There it is!' At Mr. Rogers' sale, in 1856, it was purchased by Earl Fitzwilliam for 980 guineas. The grown-up person of the sitter for 'Puck' was in Messrs. Christie and Manson's room during the sale, and stood next to Lord Fitzwilliam, who is also a survivor of the sitters to Sir Joshua. The merry boy, whom Sir Joshua found upon his door-step, subsequently became a porter at Elliot's brewery, in Pimlico."
In 1804, Alderman Boydell applied through his friend, Sir John W. Anderson, to the House of Commons, for leave to dispose of his paintings and drawings by lottery. In his petition he described himself, with modesty and pathos, as an old man of eighty-five, anxious to free himself from debts which now oppressed him, although he, with his brethren, had expended upwards of £350,000 in promoting the fine arts. Sixty years before he had begun to benefit engraving by establishing a school of English engravers. At that time the whole print commerce of England consisted in importing a few foreign prints (chiefly French) "to supply the cabinets of the curious." In time he effected a total change in this branch of commerce, "very few prints being now imported, while the foreign market is principally supplied with prints from England." By degrees, the large sums received from the Continent for English plates encouraged him to attempt also an English school of pictorial painting, the want of such a school having been long a source of opprobrium among foreign writers on England. The Shakespeare Gallery was sufficient to convince the world that English genius only needed encouragement to obtain a facility, versatility, and independence of thought unknown to the Italian, Flemish, or French schools. That Gallery he had long hoped to have left to a generous public, but the recent Vandalic revolution in France had cut up his revenue by the roots, Flanders, Holland, and Germany being his chief marts. At the same time he acknowledged he had not been provident, his natural enthusiasm for promoting the fine arts having led him after each success to fly at once to some new artist with the whole gains of his former undertaking. He had too late seen his error, having increased his stock of copper-plates to such a heap that all the print-sellers in Europe (especially in these unfavourable times) could not purchase them. He therefore prayed for permission to create a lottery, the House having the assurance of the even tenor of a long life "that it would be fairly and honourably conducted."
The worthy man obtained leave for his lottery, and died December 11, a few days after the last tickets were sold. He was buried with civic state in the Church of St. Olave, Jewry, the Lord Mayor, aldermen, and several artists attending. Boydell was very generous and charitable. He gave pictures to adorn the City Council Chamber, the Court Room of the Stationers' Company, and the dining-room of the Sessions House. He was also a generous benefactor to the Humane Society and the Literary Fund, and was for many years the President of both Societies. The Shakespeare Gallery finally fell by lottery to Mr. Tassie, the well-known medallist, who thrived to a good old age upon the profits of poor Boydell's too generous expenditure. This enterprising man was elected Alderman of Cheap Ward in 1782, Sheriff in 1785, and Lord Mayor in 1790. His death was occasioned by a cold, caught at the Old Bailey Sessions. His nephew, Josiah Boydell, engraved for him for forty years.
It was the regular custom of Mr. Alderman Boydell (says "Rainy Day" Smith), who was a very early riser, to repair at five o'clock immediately to the pump in Ironmonger Lane. There, after placing his wig upon the ball at the top, he used to sluice his head with its water. This well known and highly respected character was one of the last men who wore a three-cornered hat, commonly called the "Egham, Staines, and Windsor."