Old and New London: Volume 2. Originally published by Cassell, Petter & Galpin, London, 1878.
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In this section
LEADENHALL STREET AND THE OLD EAST INDIA HOUSE.
The Old East India House—Façade of the Old Building—The Ground Floor—Distinguished Servants of the Company—The Real Commencement of our Trade with India—Injustice of the Stuarts towards the East India Company—Dissensions—The Company's Court of Directors rendered subordinate to the Government—Abolition of the Company's Trading Powers—The General Court of Proprietors—The Board of Control—"John Company's" Establishment—Despatches and Letters from India—Charles Lamb as Clerk in the Old East India HouseThe Government of the Indian Army transferred to the Crown—The Present Council of India—Peter Anthony Motteux's "India House"—Lime Street—Colonel Turner.
"It does not appear to be ascertained where the East India Company first transacted their business," says an historian of the great Company, "but the tradition of the house is, that it was in the great room of the "Nag's Head Inn," opposite Bishop'sgate Church, where there is now a Quakers' Meeting House. The maps of London constructed soon after the Great Fire place the India House in Leadenhall Street, on a part of its present site. It is probably the house, of which a unique plate is preserved in the British Museum, surmounted by a huge, square-built mariner, and two thick dolphins. In the indenture of conveyance of the dead stock of the Company, dated 22nd July, 1702, we find that Sir William Craven, of Kensington, in the year 1701, leased to the Company his large house in Leadenhall Street, and a tenement in Lime Street, for twenty-one years, at £100 a year. Upon the site of this house what is called the old East India House was built in 1726; and several portions of this old house long remained, although the subsequent front, and great part of the house, were added in 1799, by Mr. Jupp.
The façade of the old building was 200 feet in length, and was of stone. The portico was composed of six large Ionic fluted columns on a raised basement, and it gave an air of much magnificence to the whole, although the closeness of the street made it somewhat gloomy. The pediment was an emblematic sculpture by Bacon, representing the commerce of the East protected by the King of Great Britain, who stood in the centre of a number of figures, holding a shield stretched over them. On the apex of the pediment rose a statue of Britannia. Asia, seated on a dromedary, was at the left corner, and Europe, on horseback, at the right.
"The ground floor," says a writer in "Knight's London," describing the old India House in 1843, "is chiefly occupied by Court and Committee Rooms, and by the Directors' private rooms. The Court of Directors occupy what is usually termed the 'Court Room,' while that in which the Court of Proprietors assemble is called the 'General Court Room.' The Court Room is said to be an exact cube of thirty feet; it is splendidly ornamented by gilding and by large looking-glasses; and the effect of its too great height is much diminished by the position of the windows near the ceiling. Six large pictures hang from the cornice, representing the three Presidencies, the Cape, St. Helena, and Tellicherry. A fine piece of sculpture, in white marble, is fixed over the chimney; Britannia is seated on a globe by the sea-shore, receiving homage from three female figures, intended for Asia, Africa, and India. Asia offers spices with her right hand, and with her left leads a camel; India presents a large box of jewels, which she holds half open; and Africa rests her hand upon the head of a lion. The Thames, as a river-god, stands upon the shore, a labourer appears cording a large bale of merchandise, and ships are sailing in the distance. The whole is supported by two caryatid figures, intended for Brahmins, but really fine old European-looking philosophers.
"The General Court Room, which until the abolition of the trade was the old sale-room, is close to the Court Room. Its east side is occupied by rows of seats which rise from the floor near the middle of the room towards the ceiling, backed by a gallery where the public are admitted. On the floor are the seats for the chairman, secretary, and clerks. Against the west wall, in niches, are six statues of persons who have distinguished themselves in the Company's service; Lord Clive, Warren Hastings, and the Marquis Cornwallis occupy those on the left, and Sir Eyre Coote, General Lawrance, and Sir George Pococke those on the right. It is understood that the statue of the Marquis Wellesley will be placed in the vacant space in the middle. The Finance and Home Committee Room is the best room in the house, with the exception of the Court Rooms, and is decorated with some good pictures. One wall is entirely occupied by a representation of the grant of the Dewannee to the Company in 1765, the foundation of all the British Power in India; portraits of Warren Hastings and of the Marquis Cornwallis stand beside the fireplace; and the remaining walls are occupied by other pictures, among which may be noticed the portrait of Mirza Abul Hassan, the Persian Envoy, who excited a good deal of attention in London in the year 1809. The upper part of the house contains the principal offices and the library and museum. In the former is, perhaps, the most splendid collection of Oriental MSS. in Europe, and, in addition, a copy of almost every printed work relating to Asia."
Our trade with India may date its real commencement from the last day of the sixteenth century, when 215 London merchant adventurers, elated by the capture of a Portuguese ship laden with Indian gold, pearls, spices, silks, and ivory, obtained a charter to trade with Hindostan for fifteen years. King James, with some reluctance (being, no doubt, tampered with by courtiers), renewed the charter, in 1609, "for ever," providing that it might be recalled on three years' notice from the Crown. In 1612, after twelve voyages had been made to the East Indies, the whole capital subscribed, amounting to £429,000, was united, and the management taken out of the hands of the original twenty-four managers. The Company suffered at first from the ordinary rapacity and injustice of the Stuarts. In 1623 (James I.), just as a fleet was starting for India, the Duke of Buckingham (then High Admiral) refused to allow it to sail till the Company had paid up a disputed Admiralty claim of £10,000, and £10,000 claimed by the king. In 1635, Charles I., breaking the charter, allowed a Captain Weddell, for some heavy bribe, to trade to India for five years. In 1640, the same unjust king compelled the Company (on bonds never entirely paid) to sell him their whole stock of Indian pepper in their warehouses, which he instantly re-sold at a lower price, at an eventual loss of £50,000. In 1655 the Republican Government, nobly antagonistic to royal monopolies, from which the people had so long groaned, under both the Tudors and the Stuarts, threw the trade to India entirely open, but the Company was reinstated in its power two years afterwards. In 1661, Charles II. (no doubt for a pretty handsome consideration) granted the Company a fresh charter, with the new and great privilege of making peace or war. Now the Company's wings began to grow in earnest. In 1653, Madras was made a presidency; in 1662, Bombay was ceded to England by the Portuguese, who gave it to Charles as part of the dower of poor ill-starred Catherine of Braganza; and in 1692 Calcutta was purchased by the ambitious traders, who now began to feel their power, and the possibilities of their new colony. From 1690 to 1693 there were great disputes as to whether the king or Parliament had the right of granting trade charters; and on William III. granting the Company (rich enough now to excite jealousy) a new charter for twenty-one years, an angry inquiry was instituted by the Tories, who discovered that the Company had distributed £90,000 among the chief officers of state. A prorogation of Parliament dropped the curtain on these shameful disclosures.
In 1698 the old Company was dissolved, and a new Company (which had outbid the old in bribes) was founded, rivalled, in 1700, by the old Company, which had obtained a partial resumption of its powers. In 1708, however, the two Companies, which had only injured each other, were united, and called "The United Company of Merchants of England, trading to the East Indies," a title which it retained till its trading privileges were abolished, in 1834. On the renewal of the charter in 1781 (George III.), the Government made important changes in the charter, and required all despatches to be submitted to them before they were forwarded to India. The Government was already jealous of the imperial power of a Company which had the possibility of conquering 176 millions of people. In 1784 the blow indeed came, with the establishment of the Board of Control, "by which, in everything but patronage and trade," says a well-informed writer on the subject, "the Company's Court of Directors was rendered subordinate to the Government" of the time being. In 1794 private merchants were allowed to export goods in the Company's ships, another big slice out of the cake. By the year 1833 the private trading had begun to exceed, in value of goods, those carried by the Company. In 1833 an Act was passed to enable the Company to retain power until 1854, but abolishing the China monopoly, and all trading. This was cutting off the legs of the Company, and, in fact, preparing it for death. Their warehouses and most of their property were then sold, and the dividend was to be 10½ per cent., chargeable on the revenues of India, and redeemable by Parliament after the year 1874. The amount of dividend guaranteed by the Act was £630,000, being 10½ per cent. on a nominal capital of £6,000,000. The real capital of the Company was estimated, in 1832, at upwards of £21,000,000, including cash, goods, and buildings, and £1,294,768 as the estimated value of the East India House and the Company's warehouses, the prime cost of the latter having been £1,100,000. The Company was henceforth to be entitled the East India Company, and its accounts were to be annually laid before Parliament. The old privileges of the Company were now limited.
The General Court of Proprietors was formerly composed of the owners of India stock. After 1693 no one who had less than £1,000 stock could vote. Later still, the qualification was lowered to £500, and the greatest holders had no more. By the last law (that of 1773) the possession of £1,000 only gave one vote; £3,000, two; £6,000, three; and £10,000 the greatest number allowed—namely, four. The Court of Proprietors elected the Court of Directors, framed bye-laws, declared the dividends, and controlled grants of money above £600, and additions to salary above £200. Latterly the functions of this general court were entirely deliberative, and the vote was by ballot. In 1843 there were 1,880 members of the Court of Proprietors. The meetings in old times were very stormy, and even riotous; the debates virulent. In 1763, Clive, as unscrupulous as he was brave, laid out £100,000 in India stock, to introduce nominees of his own, who would vote at his pleasure. The directors were then appointed annually; latterly they were elected for four years, six retiring yearly, and the chairman and deputy-chairman, who communicated with the Government, did the greater part of the work.
The Board of Control, established by the Act of 1784, was nominated by the Crown, and (after 1793) consisted of an unlimited number of members, all of whom, except two, were to be of the Privy Council, including the two principal Secretaries of State and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Three only of the commissioners were paid, and all changed with the Ministry. They had supreme power to keep or send despatches; had access to all books, accounts, papers, and documents in the East India House, orders, or secret despatches; and communicated with the Secret Committee.
In old times "John Company" employed nearly 4,000 men in its warehouses, and, before the trade with India closed, kept more than 400 clerks to transact the business of this greatest company that the world had ever seen. The military department superintended the recruiting and storing of the Indian army. There was a shipping department, a master-attendant's office, an auditor's office, an examiner's office, an accountant's office, a transfer office, and a treasury. The buying office governed the fourteen warehouses, and so worked the home market, having often in store some fifty million pounds weight of tea, 1,200,000 Ibs. being sometimes sold in one day, at the annual tea sales. The tea and indigo sales were bear-garden scenes.
The despatches and letters from India poured ceaselessly into the India House. From 1793 to 1813 they made 9,094 large folio volumes; while from 1813 to 1829, the number increased to 14,414 folios. In a debate on East India matters, in 1822, Canning mentioned, in eulogy of the Company's clever and careful clerks, that he had known one military despatch accompanied by 119 papers, and containing altogether 13,511 pages. These were the men who had heard of Clive and Warren Hastings, and remembered that Macaulay had spoken of Indian writers as fallen from their high estate, because then (1840) they could only expect, at forty-five, to return to England with £1,000 a year pension and £30,000 of savings. They never forgot, we may be sure, that India yielded £17,000,000 in taxes.
It must never be forgotten, in describing the old East India House, that that most delightful of all our humourists, Charles Lamb, was a patient, humble, and plodding clerk at its desks for thirty years. "My printed works," he used to say, with his quaint stutter, "were my recreations; my real works may be found on the shelves in Leadenhall Street, filling some hundred folios." His half painful feelings of pleasure on at last regaining his freedom, he has himself beautifully described; and in one of the best of his essays he has sketched the most fantastic of his fellow-clerks. James Mill, the learned author of the "History of India," and worthy Hoole, the heavy translator of "Tasso," were also clerks in the India House.
In 1858, in consequence of the break-up occasioned by the mutiny, and the disappearance of the Company's black army, the government of the vast Indian empire was transferred to the Crown; the Board of Control was abolished, and a Council of State for India was instituted. The Queen was proclaimed in all the great Indian cities, as the successor to poor old dead-and-gone "John Company," November 1, 1858. The East India House, in Leadenhall Street, was sold with the furniture in 1861, and pulled down in 1862. The handsome pile of the East India Chambers now occupies its site, and the museum was transfered to Whitehall.
The Council of India now consists of fifteen members, at £1,200 a year each, payable, together with the salary of the Secretary of State, out of the revenue of India. The old twenty-four directors received £300 a year each, and £500 for their "chairs." At first eight of the council were appointed by the Queen, and seven by the Court of East India Directors, from their own body, In future, vacancies in the Council will be filled up by the Secretary of State for India.
At the "Two Fans," in Leadenhall Street, Peter Anthony Motteux, a clever but rather unprincipled dramatic writer of the beginning of the eighteenth century, kept an India house, for the sale of Japan wares, fans, tea, pictures, arrack, rich brocades, Dutch silks, Flanders lace and linens. Such houses were then often used by fashionables as places of assignation. Motteux was a Protestant refugee from Rouen. He wrote or translated seventeen plays, including some of Moliere's; produced a tragedy called Beauty in Distress; translated "Don Quixote" and "Rabelais," and was eventually found murdered on his birthday, 1717–18, in a notorious house in Star Court, Butcher Row, Temple Bar. Steele inserts a letter in the Spectator, No. 288, professedly written by Motteux, and calling attention to his shop.
The following fragment of a song of Motteux's,
taken from The Mock Doctor, a translation of Le
Medecin malgré lui, has always seemed to us full of
spirit and French gaiety:—
"Man is for woman made,
And woman made for man;
As the spur is for the jade,
As the scabbard for the blade,
As for liquor is the can,
So man's for woman made,
And woman made for man."
Lime Street, Leadenhall Street, is supposed to have got its name from lime having been once upon a time sold there. It was a street rendered famous, in the time of Pepys, by the great robbery committed by an old rascally Cavalier colonel on his friend Tryan, a rich merchant. Under date of the 8th of January, 1663–4, that omnivorous news-collector, Pepys, records:— "Upon the Change, a great talk there was of one Mr. Tryan, an old man, a merchant in Lime Street, robbed last night (his man and maid being gone out after he was a-bed), and gagged and robbed of £1,050 in money, and about £4,000 in jewels, which he had in his house as security for money. It is believed that his man is guilty of confederacy, by their ready going to his secret till, in his desk, wherein the key of his cash-chest lay." On the 10th, which was Sunday, Pepys goes on: "All our discourse tonight was about Mr. Tryan's late being robbed; and that Colonel Turner (a mad, swearing, confident fellow, well known by all, and by me), one much indebted to this man for his very livelihood, was the man that either did or plotted it; and the money and things are found in his hand, and he and his wife now in Newgate for it; of which we are all glad, so very a known rogue he was." On the next day it is added, "The general talk of the town still is of Colonel Turner, about the robbery; who, it is thought, will be hanged." And so he was. When the old Cavalier was on the ladder he related all his exploits in the wars, and, before he was turned off he kissed his hand to some ladies at a window near.
LEADENHALL STREET (continued).
The Old Market—St. Catherine Cree Church—Laud's Folly at the Consecration—The Lion and the Flower Sermons—St. Mary Axe—A Roman Pavement—House of the De Veres—St. Andrew Undershaft—Sawing up the Maypole—Stow's Monument.
The original Leadenhall Market was a mansion which belonged to Sir Hugh Neville, in 1309, and was converted into a granary, and probably a market for the City, by Sir Simon Eyre, a draper, and Lord Mayor of London in 1445. It appears to have been a large building roofed with lead, and at that time thought, we presume, grand and remarkable.
There was a large chapel on the east side of old Leadenhall Market, dedicated to the Holy Trinity, by Sir Simon Eyre. To this chapel were attached, for daily service of the market people, master, five secular priests, six clerks, two choristers, and three schoolmasters, for whose support Eyre left 3,000 marks. In the reign of Edward IV. a fraternity of sixty priests was established in this chapel. During a scarcity in 1512 (Henry VIII.) a great store of corn was laid up in the Leadenhall granary, and the mayor used to attend the market at four a.m. In the year 1534 it was proposed to make Leadenhall a merchants' Bourse, but the plan dropped through. At Henry VIII.'s death, in 1547, the Bishop of Winchester, the king's almoner, gave alms publicly to the poor at Leadenhall for twelve consecutive days. In Strype's time Leadenhall (now celebrated for its poultry) was a market for meat and fish, a market for raw hides, a wool market, and an herb market.
"The use of Leadenhall, in my youth," says Strype, "was thus:—In a part of the north quadrant, on the east side of the north gate, were the common beams for weighing of wool and other wares, as had been accustomed; on the west side the gate was the scales to weigh meal; the other three sides were reserved (for the most part) to the making and resting of the pageants shewed at Midsummer in the watch. The remnant of the sides and quadrants were employed for the stowage of woolsacks, but not closed up; the lofts above were partly used by the painters in working for the decking of pageants and other devices, for beautifying of the watch and watchmen. The residue of the lofts were letten out to merchants, the woolwinders and packers therein to wind and pack their wools."
Leadenhall Market, says Pennant, "is the wonder of foreigners, who do not duly consider the carnivorous nation to which it belongs." When Don Pedro de Ronquillo, the Spanish ambassador, visited Leadenhall, he told Charles II. with admiration that he believed there was more meat sold in that market than in all the kingdom of Spain in a whole year. In 1730 Leadenhall Market was partly rebuilt, and in 1814 the leather-market was restored, the chapel and other old buildings being removed.
The engraving on page 186 shows an old house formerly standing in Leadenhall Street. The door at the side appears to have been the entrance to an old Jewish synagogue.
St. Catherine Cree (or Christ Church) is the memorable building where Archbishop Laud performed some of those dangerous ceremonials that ultimately contributed to bring him to the scaffold. Between the years 1280 and 1303 this church was built as a chapel for the parish of St. Catherine, in the churchyard of the priory of the Holy Trinity, Christ Church, founded by Matilda, wife of Henry I., who united the parishes of St. Mary Magdalen, St. Michael, St. Catherine, and the Trinity. Of the church of St. Michael (at the angle formed by the junction of Leadenhall and Fenchurch Streets) the crypt existed at the date of Mr. Godwin's writing in 1839, with pointed arched groining and clustered columns, the shafts of which were said to be sunk about fourteen feet deep in the earth.
Henry VIII., at the dissolution, gave the priory and the church to Lord Audley, who bequeathed it to Magdalen College, Cambridge. In Stow's time the high street had been so often raised by pavements round St. Catherine's, that those who entered had to descend seven steps. In the year 1628 the church, all but the tower was pulled down, and the present building commenced. The new building was consecrated by Archbishop Laud, then Bishop of London, Jan. 16, 1630–31. Rushworth gives the following account of the opening:—
"St. Catherine Cree Church being lately repaired, was suspended from all divine service, sermons, and sacraments, till it was consecrated. Wherefore Dr. Laud, Lord Bishop of London, on the 16th January, being the Lord's Day, came thither in the morning to consecrate the same. Now, because great exceptions were taken at the formality thereof, we will briefly relate the manner of the consecration. At the bishop's approach to the west door of the church, some that were prepared for it cried with a loud voice, 'Open, open, ye everlasting doors, that the King of Glory may come in.' And presently the doors were opened, and the bishop, with three doctors, and many other principal men, went in, and immediately falling down upon his knees, with his eyes lifted up, and his arms spread abroad, uttered these words: 'This place is holy, this ground is holy; in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, I pronounce it holy.' Then he took up some of the dust, and threw it up into the air several times in his going up towards the church. When they approached near to the rail and communion-table, the bishop bowed towards it several times, and returning they went round the church in procession, saying the Hundredth Psalm, after that the Nineteenth Psalm, and then said a form of prayer, 'Lord Jesus Christ,' &c.; and concluding, 'We consecrate this church, and separate it unto Thee, as holy ground, not to be profaned any more to common use.' After this, the bishop being near the communion-table, and taking a written book in his hand, pronounced curses upon those that should afterwards profane that holy place, by musters of soldiers, or keeping profane law-courts, or carrying burdens through it; and at the end of every curse he bowed towards the east, and said, 'Let all the people say, Amen.' When the curses were ended, he pronounced a number of blessings upon all those that had any hand in framing and building of that sacred church, and those that had given, or should hereafter give, chalices, plate, ornaments, or utensils; and at the end of every blessing he bowed towards the east, saying, 'Let all the people say, Amen.'
"After this followed the sermon, which being ended, the bishop consecrated and administered the sacrament in manner following:—As he approached the communion-table he made several lowly bowings, and coming up to the side of the table where the bread and wine were covered, he bowed seven times; and then, after the reading of many prayers, he came near the bread, and gently lifted up the corner of the napkin wherein the bread were laid; and when he beheld the bread, he laid it down again, flew back a step or two, bowed three several times towards it. Then he drew near again, and opened the napkin and bowed as before. Then he laid his hand on the cup, which was full of wine, with a cover upon it, which he let go again, went back, and bowed thrice towards it; then he came near again, and lifting up the cover of the cup, looked into it, and seeing the wine, he let fall the cover again, retired back, and bowed as before. Then he received the sacrament, and gave it to some principal men; after which, many prayers being said, the solemnity of the consecration ended."
In the Middle Ages morality plays were acted in the churchyard of St. Catherine Cree. In an old parish book, quoted by Malcolm, under the date 1565, there is an entry of certain players, who for licence to play their interludes in the churchyard paid the sum of 27s. 8d.
The most interesting ceremonial to be withnessed in this church is the annual "flower sermon" on Whit-Monday, which is largely attended: the congregation all wear flowers, and a large bouquet is placed on the pulpit before the preacher.
It is generally thought by good authorities that this church was restored under the direction of Inigo Jones. The building displays a strange mixture of Gothic and Greek architecture, yet is still not without a certain picturesqueness. The east window is square-headed; Corinthian columns support a clerestory, and the groined ceiling is coarse and ugly. The chief monument in the church is one to the memory of Sir Nicholas Throgmorton, chief butler of England, a chamberlain, and an ambassador to France from Queen Elizabeth. The tomb, of marble or alabaster, "now (1839)," says Mr. Godwin, "painted stone-colour, is canopied, and has a recumbent effigy." There is also a small tablet, supported by two figures of monks (beginning of seventeenth century). At the west end is an indifferent bas-relief by the elder Bacon. There is also a man more illustrious than these said to be buried here, and that is the great Holbein. The great painter is said to have died in the parish of St. Andrew Undershaft, and Strype gives this as the place of his interment, adding that the Earl of Arundel had wished to erect a monument to his memory, but was unable to discover the exact spot of his grave. The close of Holbein's career, however, is wrapped in obscurity. Walpole observes that "the spot of his interment is as uncertain as that of his death;" and he might have added, that there is quite as much doubt about the time.
St. Mary Axe, so called originally from a shop
with the sign of an axe, is a street which runs from
Lime Street into Camomile Street, on the line
of the old Roman wall, and so named (like Wormwood Street) from the rough herbs that grew among
the old Roman stones. The church of St. Mary,
long since vanished, was, says Stow, after the union
of the parish with that of St. Andrew Undershaft,
turned into a warehouse. The Smiths, in one of the
best of the "Rejected Addresses," in imitation of
Crabbe, play very wittily on the name of St. Mary
"Jews from St. Mary Axe, for jobs so wary,
That for old clothes they'd even axe St. Mary."
Near this spot stood, in the reign of Henry V., the London residence of the De Veres, Earls of Oxford. Richard, Earl of Oxford, fought at Agincourt, and died in France, 1417, two years after that great victory.
In Leadenhall Street, opposite the East India House, in 1803, was found the most magnificent Roman tessellated pavement yet discovered in London. It lay at only nine and a half feet below the street, but a third side had been cut away for a sewer. It appeared to have been the floor of a room more than twenty feet square. In the centre was Bacchus upon a tiger, encircled with three borders (inflexions of serpents, cornucopiæ, and squares diagonally concave), with drinking-cups and plants at the angles. Surrounding the whole was a square border of a bandeau of oak, and lozenge figures and true-lover's knots, and a fivefeet outer margin of plain red tiles. The pavement was broken in taking up, but the pieces were preserved in the library of the East India Company. A fragment of an urn and a jawbone were found beneath one corner. "In this beautiful specimen of Roman Mosaic," says Mr. Fisher, who published a coloured print of it, "the drawing, colouring, and shadows are all effected by about twenty separate tints, composed of tessellæ of different materials, the major part of which are baked earths; but the more brilliant colours of green and purple, which form the drapery, are of glass. These tessellæ are of different sizes and figures, adapted to the situations they occupy in the design." In connection with this interesting discovery, it may be mentioned that another fine Roman pavement, twenty-eight feet square, was found in 1854 in Old Broad Street, on taking down the Excise Office. It lay about fifteen feet lower than the foundations of Gresham House, on the site of which the Excise Office was built. "It is," says a description of it inserted by Mr. Timbs, in his "Curiosities," "a geometrical pattern of broad blue lines, forming intersections of octagon and lozenge compartments. The octagon figures are bordered with a cable pattern, shaded with grey, and interlaced with a square border shaded with red and yellow. In the centres, within a ring, are expanded flowers, shaded in red, yellow, and grey, the double row of leaves radiating from a figure called a true-love knot, alternately with a figure something like the tigerlily. Between the octagon figures are square compartments bearing various devices. In the centre of the pavement is Ariadne or a Bacchante, reclining on the back of a panther, but only the fore-paws, one of the hind-paws, and the tail, remain. Over the head of the figure floats a light drapery, forming an arch. Another square contains a two-handled vase. On the demi-octagons, at the sides of the pattern, are lunettes; one contains a fan ornament; another, a bowl crowned with flowers. The lozenge intersections are variously embellished with leaves, shells, true-love knots, chequers, and an ornament shaped like a dice-box. At the corners of the pattern are true-love knots. Surrounding this pattern is a broad cable-like border, broad bands of blue and white alternating, then a floral scroll, and beyond this an edge of demi-lozenges, in alternate blue and white. An outer border composed of plain red tessellæ, surrounds the whole. The ground of the pavement is white, and the other colours are a scale of full red, yellow, and a bluish grey. This pavement is of late workmanship. Various Roman and mediæval articles were turned up in the same excavation; among these were a silver denarius of Hadrian, several copper coins of Constantine, and a small copper coin bearing, on the reverse, the figures of Romulus and Remus suckled by the traditionary wolf; several Roman and mediæval tiles and fragments of pottery; a small glass of a fine blue colour, and coins and tradesmen's tokens were also found.
Perhaps of all the old churches of London there is scarcely one so interesting as St. Andrew Undershaft, Leadenhall Street, nearly opposite the site of the old East India House, the very name itself suggesting some curious and almost forgotten tradition. Stow is peculiarly interesting about this church, which he says derived its singular name from "a high or long shaft or Maypole higher than the church steeple" (hence under shaft), which used, early in the morning of May Day, the great spring festival of merry England, to be set up and hung with flowers opposite the south door of St. Andrew's.
This ancient Maypole must have been the very centre of those joyous and innocent May Day revelries sung of by Herrick:—
"Come, my Corinna; and comming, marke
How each field turns a street, each street a parke
Made green and trimm'd with trees; see how
Devotion gives each house a bough,
Or branch; each porch, each doore, ere this,
An arke, a tabernacle is,
Made up of white-thorn neatly interwove;
As if here were those cooler shades of love.
Can such delights be in the street
And open fields, and we not see't?
Come, we'll abroad, and let's obey
The proclamation made for May,
And sin no more, as we have done, by staying;
But, my Corinna, come, let's go a Maying."
The venerable St. Andrew's Maypole was never raised after that fatal "Evil May Day," in the reign of Henry VIII., which we have mentioned in our chapter on Cheapside. It remained dry-rotting on its friendly hooks in Shaft Alley till the third year of Edward VI., when the Reforming preachers, growing unusually hot and zealous in the sunshine of royal favour, and, as a natural consequence, considerably intolerant, one Sir Stephen, a curate of the neighbouring St. Katherine's Christ Church, Leadenhall Street, preached against the good old Maypole, and called it an "Idol," advising all men to alter the Popish names of churches and the names of the days of the week, to eat fish any day but Friday and Saturday, and to keep Lent any time but between Shrovetide and Easter. The same eccentric reformer used to preach out of a high elm-tree in his churchyard, and sing high mass in English from a tomb, far from the altar. The sermon denouncing the Maypole was preached at Paul's Cross, when Stow himself was present; and that same afternoon the good old historian says he saw the Shaft Alley people, "after they had dined, to make themselves strong, gathered more help, and with great labour, raising the shaft from the hooks whereon it had rested two-and-thirty years, they sawed it in pieces, every man taking for his share so much as had lain over his door and stall, the length of his house." Thus was the "idol" mangled and burned. Not long after there was a Romish riot in Essex, and the bailiff of Romford was hung just by the well at Aldgate, on the pavement in front of Stow's own house. While on the ladder this poor perplexed bailiff said he did not know why he was to be hung, unless it was for telling Sir Stephen (the enemy of the Maypole) that there was heavy news in the country, and many men were up in Essex. After this man's death Sir Stephen stole out of London, to avoid popular reproach, and was never afterwards heard of by good old Stow. And this is the whole story of St. Andrew's Maypole and the foolish curate of Catherine Cree.
Many eminent citizens were buried in this church. Among them we may name John Kirby, the great Elizabeth merchant tailor, and Stow himself, Stephen Jennings, Mayor of London, another worthy merchant tailor, who, in 1520, rebuilt half the church, but sought a grave in the Grey Friars (Christ's Hospital). An old chronicler mentions "at the lower end of the north ile" of this church "a faire wainscot press full of good books, the works of many learned and reverend divines," for chance readers; and there still is a desk with seven curious old books (mostly black letter), which formerly were chained to open cages. The present church, rebuilt 1520–1532, consists of a nave and two aisles, with a ribbed and flattened perpendicular roof, painted and gilt, with flowers and emblazoned shields. The chancel has also paintings of the heavenly choir, landscapes, and buildings. St. Andrew's boasts much stained glass, particularly a large painted window at the east end, containing whole-length portraits of Edward VI., Elizabeth, James, Charles I., and Charles II. This church was pewed soon after 1520. It contains many valuable brasses, tables, and monuments, as might be expected in a celebrated City church lucky enough to escape the Great Fire. The most special and memorable of these is the terra-cotta monument to worthy, indefatigable, honest old Stow. The monument to Stow was erected at the expense of his widow, and the effigy was formerly painted to resemble life. The worthy old chronicler is represented sitting at a table, as he must have spent half his existence, with a book before him (an old parish register, no doubt), and he holds a pen in his hand, as was his custom. The figure is squat and stiff, but the portrait is no doubt exact. There was formerly, says Cunningham, a railing before the tomb. That Stow was a tailor, born about 1525, in the parish of St. Michael, Cornhill, we have stated in a previous chapter. That he lived near Aldgate Pump we have also noted. He seems to have written his laborious "Chronicles," "Annals," and "Survey" amidst care and poverty. He was a friend of Camden, and a protégé of Archbishop Parker, yet all he could obtain from James I. was a license to beg. He died a twelvemonth after this effusion of royal favour, and was buried at St. Andrew's in 1605. In 1732 his body was removed, says Maitland, "to make way for another." His collection for the "Chronicles of England," in sixty quarto volumes, are now in the British Museum. Wonderful chiffonnier of topographical facts! Peter Anthony Motteux, the clever translator of "Don Quixote," already mentioned by us, was buried here, but there is no monument to his memory.