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LONDON IN THE GOOD OLD TIMES.* "If it were given to the reader,"-observes Mr. Thoms, in the preface to his new edition of “Stow's Survey of London,”-“ if it were given to the reader to wield for a brief space the staff of Prospero, with power to conjure up a vision of London, as it existed in some former period, there can be little doubt but that he would so employ bis art that the London of Shakspeare should stand revealed before him, Happily, although Prospero's staff is broken, the conjuration and the mighty magic necessary to call up this busy pageant were lodged in the untiring pen of honest John Stow.
" Fortunate, indeed, was it for the London of that age that one, born and bred within her walls, undertook, as a labour of love, a survey which has enabled after generations
"" To view the manners of the town,
Peruse the traders, gaze upon the buildings,'” and acquire a knowledge of Queen Elizabeth's capital more intimate than we possess of the same city at any other period, or of any other city in any age of the world. How well, how faithfully, this worthy citizen performed the task his patriotism selected, one glance at his most quaint and most picturesque of narratives will serve to show.”
This, though savouring somewhat strongly of the eulogistic style in which editors and biographers feel called upon to indulge when speaking of the talents and good qualities of the literary lion whom they may be showing up, contains no more than the truth.
“ Stow's Survey” furnishes us with views of London and London life in the good old times, not only of Queen Bess, but of ages long before her, which exhibit all the truthfulness of the Daguerrotype.
How admirable is the following picture of a festival day at old St. Paul's, incidentally introduced by Stow in his account of the monuments in that cathedral :
“ Some have noted, that in digging the foundation of this new work, (namely of a chapel on the South side of Paule's church,) there were found more than a hundred scalps of oxen or kine, in the year 1316 ; which thing (say they) confirmed greatly the opinion of those which have reported, that of old time there had been a temple of Jupiter, and that there was a daily sacrifice of beasts.
* A Survey of London, written in the year 1598. By John Stow. A new Edition, edited by W. J. Thoms, Esq., F.S.A., Secretary of the Camden Society. Large 8vo. Whittaker & Co. YOL. XCVI.
“ Othersome, both wise and learned, have thought the buck's head, borne before the procession of Paule's on St. Paul's day, to signify the like. But true it is, I have read an ancient deed to this effect:
“ Sir William Baud, knight, the 3d of Edward I., in the year 1274, on Candlemas day, granted to Harvy de Borham, dean of Powle's, and to the chapter there, that in consideration of twenty-two acres of ground or land, by them granted, within their manor of Westley in Essex, to be enclosed into his park of Curingham, he would for ever, upon the feast day of the Conversion of St. Paul in winter, give unto them a good doe, seasonable and sweet, and upon the feast of the commemoration of St. Paul in summer, a good buck, and offer the same upon the high altar; the same to be spent amongst the canons residents. The doe to be brought by one man at the hour of procession, and through the procession to the high altar, and the bringer to have nothing : the buck to be brought by all his men in like manner, and they to have paid unto them by the chamberlain of the church twelve pence only, and no more to be required. This grant he made, and for performance bound the lands of him and his heirs to be distrained on; if the lands should be evicted, that yet he and his heirs should accomplish the gift. Witnesses : Richard Tilberie, William de Wockendon, Richard de Harlowe, knights, Peter of Stanforde, Thomas of Waldon, and some others.
“Sir Walter Baude, son to William, confirmed this gift, in the 30th of the said king, and the witnesses thereunto were Nicholas de Wokendon, Richard de Rokeley, Thomas de Mandevile, John de Rocliford, knights, Richard de Broniford, William de Markes, William de Fulham, and other. Thus much for the grant.
“Now what I have heard by report, and have partly seen, it followeth. On the feast day of the commemoration of St. Paul, the buck being brought up to the steps of the high altar in Paul's church, at the hour of procession, the dean and chapter being apparalled in copes and vestments, with garlands of roses on their heads, they sent the body of the buck to baking, and had the head fixed on a pole, borne before the cross in their procession, until they issued out of the west door, where the keeper that brought it blowed the death of the buck, and then the horners that were about the city presently answered him in like manner ; for the which pains they had each one of the dean and chapter, four pence in money, and their dinner, and the keeper that brought it, was allowed during his abode there, for that service, meat, drink, and lodging, at the dean and chapter's charges, and five shillings in money at his going away, together with a loaf of bread, having the picture of St. Paul upon it, &c.
“There was belonging to the church of St. Paul, for both the days, two special suits of vestments, the one embroidered with bucks, the other with does, both given by the said Bauds (as I have heard). Thus much for the matter."
What a contrast to this crowded scene of the priests in their gorgeous copes and vestments, with their garlands of roses upon their heads--the buck's head borne before the cross—the horner blowing the death of the stag, and the horners of the city answering him,-a spectacle which would have furnished the brilliant pencil of Stothard with a companion to his delightful picture of "The Canterbury Pilgrims,"—is to be found in this little rural picture, this Morland-like sketch of Goodman's Fields—yes, gentle reader, Goodman's Fields !
“Near adjoining to this abbey (an abbey of nuns of the order of St. Clare, called the Minories), on the south side thereof, was sometime a farm belonging to the said nunnery; at the which farm I myself, in my youth, have fetched many a halfpenny worth of milk, and never had less than three ale pints for a halfpenny in the summer, nor less than one ale quart for a halfpenny in the winter, always hot from the kine, as the same was milked and strained. One Trolop, and afterwards Goodınan, were farmers there, and had thirty or forty kine to the pail. Goodman's son, being heir to his father's purchase, let out the ground first for grazing of horses, and then for garden-plots, and lived like a gentleman thereby.”
How strangely, yet how graphically, does old Stow mix up in the following description of the church of St. Andrew Undershaft, the history of the Maypole which gave its name to the church-that name which smacks of the olden sports of merry England with the mistaken zeal of Sir Stephen, the curate, whose tirades caused its destruction, and the melancholy fate of the poor bailiff of Romford, whose untimely death was owing to the same fanatic :
“At the north-west corner of this ward, in the said high street, standeth the fair and beautiful parish church of St. Andrew the Apostle; with an addition to be known from other churches of that name, of the knape or undershaft; and so called St. Andrew Undershaft, because that of old time, every year on May-day in the morning, it was used, that an high or long shaft, or May-pole, was set up there, in the midst of the street, before the south side of the said church ; which shaft, when it was set on end and fixed in the ground, was higher than the church steeple. Geffrey Chaucer, writing of a vain boaster, hath these words meaning of the said shaft :
“ Right well aloft, and high ye beare your heade,
The weather cocke, with flying, as ye would kill,
That all the streete may heare your body cloke.' “This shaft was not raised at any time since evil May-day (so called of an insurrection made by apprentices and other young persons against aliens in the year 1517); but the said shaft was laid along over the doors, and under the pentices of one row of houses and alley gate, called of the shaft Shaft alley (being of the possessions of Rochester bridge), in the ward of Lime street. It was ihere, I say, hung on iron hooks many years, till the third of King Edward VI., that one Sir Stephen, curate of St. Katherine Christ's church, preaching at Paule's cross, said there that this shaft was made an idol, by naming the church of St. Andrew with the addition of under that shaft :' he persuaded there. fore that the names of churches might be altered ; also that the names of days in the week might be changed; the fish days to be kept any days except Friday and Saturday, and the lent any time, save only betwixt Shrovetide and Easter. I have ofttimes seen this man, forsaking the pulpit of his said parish church, preach out of a high elmtree in the midst of the churchyard, and then entering the church, forsaking the altar, to have sung his high mass in English upon a tomb of the dead towards the north. I heard his sermon at Paule's cross, and I saw the effect that followed; for in the afternoon of that present Sunday, the neighbours and tenants to the said bridge, over whose doors the said shaft had lain, after they had well 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; and they of the alley divided among thein so inuch as had lain over their alley gate. Thus was this idol (as he termed it) mangled, and after burned.
" Soon after was there a commotion of the commons in Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, and other shires; by means whereof, straight orders being taken for the suppression of rumours, divers persons were apprehended and executed by martial law; amongst the which the bailiff of Romfort, in Essex, was one, a man very well beloved : he was early in the morning of Mary Magdalen's day, then kept holiday, brought by the sheriffs of London and the knight-marshal to the well within Aldgate, there to be executed upon a gibbet set up that morning, where, being on the ladder, he had words to this effect: • Good people, I am come hither to die, but know not for what offence, except for words by me spoken yesternight to Sir Stephen, curate and preacher of this parish, which were these : He asked me, "What news in the country ?' I answered, • Heavy news.' "Why?' quoth he. It is said,' quoth I, 'that many men be up in Essex, but thanks be to God, all is in good quiet about us :' and this was all, as God be my judge,' &c. Upon these words of the prisoner, Sir Stephen, to avoid reproach of the people, left the city, and was never heard of since amongst them to my knowledge. I heard the words of the prisoner, for he was executed upon the pavement of my door where I then kept house."
What a contrast does this melancholy incident present, in which the power of the law is vindicated, and summary justice inflicted upon a poor brawler, to the following elaborate description of the rights which belonged to a proud baron-in his character of Castellan and Banner-bearer to the lordly citizens of London,
“ The said Robert, and his heirs, ought to be, and are chief bannerers of London, in fee of the chastilairie, which he and his ancestors had by Castle Baynard, in the said city. In time of war the said Robert, and his heirs, ought to serve the city in manner as followeth : that is, the said Robert ought to come, he being the twentieth man of armas on horseback, covered with cloth, or armour, unto the great west door of St. Paul, with his banner displayed before him of his arms; and when he is come to the said door, mounted and apparelled, as before is said, the mayor with his aldermen and sheriffs armed in their arms, shall come out of the said church of St. Paul, unto the said door, with a banner in his hand, all on foot, which banner shall be gules, with the image of St. Paul, gold, the face, hands, feet and sword, of silver; and as soon as the said Robert shall see the mayor, aldermen,
and sheriffs, come on foot out of the church, armed with such a banner, he shall alight from his horse, and salute the mayor, and say to him,- Sir mayor, I am come to do my service, which I owe to the city. And the mayor and aldermen shall answer,- We give to you, as our bannerer of fee in this city, this banner of this city to bear, and govern to the honour and profit of the city to our power.' And the said Robert and his heirs shall receive the banner in his hands, and shall go on foot out of the gate with the banner in his hands; and the mayor, aldermen, and sheriffs, shall follow to the door, and shall bring a horse to the said Robert worth twenty pounds, which horse shall be saddled with a saddle of the arms of the said Robert, and shall be covered with sandals of the said arms. Also they shall present to him twenty pounds sterling money, and deliver it to the chamberlain of the said Robert for his expenses that day. Then the said Robert shall mount upon the horse which the mayor presented to him, with the banner in his hand, and as soon as he is up, he shall say to the mayor, that he cause a marshal to be chosen for the host, one of the city ; which marshal being chosen, the said Robert shall command the mayor and burgesses of the city to warn the commoners to assemble together, and they shall all go under the banner of St. Paul, and the said Robert shall bear it himself unto Aldgate, and there the said Robert and mayor shall deliver the said banner of St. Paul from thence, to whom they shall assent or think good. And if they must make any issue forth of the city, then the said Robert ought to choose two forth of every ward, the most sage personages, to foresee to the safe keeping of the city after they be gone forth. And this counsel shall be taken in the priory of the Trinity near unto Aldgate. And before every town or castle which the host of London besiege, if the siege continue a whole year, the said Robert shall have for every siege of the commonalty of London an hundred shillings for his travail, and no more. These be the rights that the said Robert hath in the time of war.-Rights belonging to Robert Fitzwalter, and to his heirs in the city of London, in the time of peace, are these; that is to say, the said Robert hath a soken or ward in the city, that is, a wall of the canonry of St. Paul, as a man goeth down the street before the brewhouse of St. Paul unto the Thames, and so to the side of the mill, which is in the water that cometh down from the Fleet bridge, and goeth so by London walls, betwixt the Friers preachers and Ludgate, and so returneth back by the house of the said Friars unto the said wall of the said canonry of St. Paul, that is, all the parish of St. Andrew, which is in the gift of his ancestors by the said seigniority. And so the said Robert hath appendant unto the said soken all these things underwritten,- that he ought to have a sokeman, and to place what sokeman he will, so he be of the sokemanry, or the same ward ; and if any of the sokemanry be impleaded in the Guildhall of any thing that toucheth not the body of the mayor that for the time is, or that toucheth the body of no sheriff, it is not lawful for the sokeman of the sokemanry of the said Robert Fitzwalter to demand a court of the said Robert, and the mayor, and his citizens of London, ought to grant him to have a court, and in his court he ought to bring his judgments, as it is assented and agreed upon in this Guildhall, that shall be given them. If any, therefore,