« ElőzőTovább »
Brook Street, Woodstock Street, Silver Street, Great George Street, Pedley Street, South Molton Row, Paradise Row, and Lancashire Court. This simple fact, contrasted with the present state of the West-end, will abundantly serve to shew how materially the metropolis must have increased in extent during the last century; and yet long before the period in question, it was described as a maiestical citie, which, for hugenesse, concourse, nauigation, trade, and populosity, very hardly might giue place to anie other in Europe." It is curious to observe how materially the progress of London was influenced, from time to time, by the interference of the legislature. The question as to how far the growth of such a capital actually militated against the interests of the nation as a political state, occasioned a controversy that commenced about the reign of Elizabeth, and perhaps even now we would be justified in calling it a moot point, of which it can only be said, adhuc sub judice lis est. Some maintained that the heart could never become too big for the body, while others rather compared the capital of a realm to the head of the human frame, which indicated weakness and distemper, if it exceeded the relative proportions of the other members.
In the days of Queen Bess, the village of Holborn or Oldbourn, was first joined to London properly so called, and a great part of High Holborn was not then in existence. St Giles's also was at that time the site of a village, but it was not considered even contiguous to London; and as for Westminster, it was merely a small town on the southwest and south sides of St James's Park. There were gardens upon each side of the Strand, while the Haymarket had a hedge on one side and a ragged thicket of underwood on the other. The bills of mortality were first printed in 1606, and it appears from them, that there was very little increase in the city during the twentysix following years; for, in 1606 and 1607, there died between six and seven thousand annually, a number
which rose only to eight and nine thousand in 1632 and 1633. This of course was the natural consequence of the general outcry against the encroachments of brick and mortar then so prevalent, that the legislature passed a law in the thirty-eighth year of the reign of Elizabeth, prohibiting the erection of any further buildings within the precincts of the city. The act, it is true, was merely probationary, as it was to expire at the close of the next session of Parliament; but its effects were not so transitory as its nominal duration, for it discouraged the builders, and materially obstructed the future progress of the city.
During the whole of King James's reign, no houses were erected without the Royal license, and the people therefore, as they increased, gradually emigrated to other parts of the world. Thus, the restriction upon London was, in fact, one of the indirect causes to which we may ascribe the plantation of New England, Virginia, Maryland, and the Bermudas, all of which originated at the time of its operation. Nevertheless, as the population could not be draughted off to the Trans-Atlantic settlements in the full proportion of its increase, the want of houses began to be so severely felt, that the people petitioned to take off a restraint so inconvenient to the public. His Majesty acceded to their desire, and the increase of London, accordingly, within the next seven-andtwenty years, so much surpassed that of any former period, as to produce from twelve to thirteen thousand burials in 1656 and 1657, although rebellion and civil wars had occurred within the interval. sooner, however, did these results become manifest, than the former clamour against the builders was renewed; and Oliver Cromwell, glad of the opportunity of a popular impost, laid a tax on the new foundations, from which, as appears by the records of the Exchequer, not more than L.20,000 were derived, clear of all the charges incidental to its collection. At the same time it necessarily retarded the growth of the me
Charing Cross, he (Harrison) looking as cheerful as any man could in that condition.” He also gravely informs us that Sir Henry Vane, when about to be beheaded on Tower Hill, urgently requested the executioner to take off his head so as not to hurt a seton which happened to be uncicatrized in his neck!
tropolis, and the people, for want of houses, again emigrated as before, and began to plant the flourishing colony of Jamaica.
The burials after the Restoration, we find, amounted to near 23,000 yearly, so that the city, under all circumstances, seems to have increased one-third.
The interference of Parliament for the prevention of architectural improvements at a time when they were so much needed, can hardly be wondered at, when we reflect that the same enlightened legislators imposed a tax upon imported paintings, to be levied at so much per foot, a piece of Vandalism which goes far towards accounting for the backwardness of the fine arts in England even at this day.
"Such assemblies, you might swear,
We are the contemporaries of a street-building generation, but the grand maxim of the nineteenth century, in their management of masonry, as in almost every thing else, as far as we can discover, appears to lie in that troublesome line of Macbeth's soliloquy, ending with, "twere well it were done quickly." It is notorious that many of the leases of new dwelling-houses contain a clause against dancing, lest the premises should suffer from a mazurka, tremble at a gallopade, or fall prostrate under the inflictions of "the parson's farewell," or "the wind that shakes the barley." The system of building, or rather "running up" a house first, and afterwards providing it with a false exterior, meant to deceive the eye with the semblance of carved stone, is in itself an absolute abomination. Besides, Greek architecture, so magnificent when on a large scale, becomes perfectly ridiculous when applied to a private street-mansion, or a haberdasher's warehouse. St Paul's Church, Covent-Garden, is an instance of the
unhappy effect produced by a combination of a similar kind; great in all its parts, with its original littleness, it very nearly approximates to the character of a barn. Inigo Jones doubtless desired to erect an edifice of stately Roman aspect, but he was cramped in his design, and, therefore, only aspired to make a firstrate barn; so far unquestionably the great architect has succeeded. Then, looking to those details of London architecture, which appear more peculiarly connected with the dignity of the nation, what can we say of it, but that the King of Great Britain is worse lodged than the chief magistrate of Glaris or Zug, while the debates of the most powerful assembly in the world are carried on in a building, (or, a return to Westminster Hall,) which will bear no comparison with the Stadthouse at Amsterdam! The city, however, as a whole, presents a combination of magnitude and grandeur, which we should in vain look for elsewhere, although with all its immensity it has not yet realized the quaint prediction of James the First,-that London would shortly be England, and England would be London.
In these our times, with an amount of human habitations hardly short of two hundred thousand, it certainly requires some exertion of fancy to conceive what it must have been under the dynasty of the Plantagenets, surrounded as it was with spacious forests, in which, according to an ancient chronicle, “ were woody groves of wild beasts; in the cover whereof did lurk store of bucks and does, wild boars and bulls, and other outlandish animals beyond count." The same authority gives an elaborate account of the royal justs in Smithfield, after the successes of the Black Prince," there beynge present thereat three kynges, that is to say, the Kyng of Engelond, the Kyng of Fraunce, and the Kyng of Scotlond, and manye other grete
* This old English dance must have been a remarkably graceful performance. It was a prime favourite in the Court of Charles II. The figure is as follows: "Meet all, and take each other's woman,-four slips to the left hand; back all, and four slips to the right: men rise once; women rise once; rise all four times, and turn each other's woman. This being repeated, the first woman changes with the second man, while the last changes with his own. Then change with the last woman; your woman changes with the last man; set all, and turn single.'
lordys of diverses regyons, with a fayre and gentil ladye ledynge every lordys brydell," a fact certainly little creditable to the gallantry of our peerage of the old regime. At the same time, it is but an act of justice to John Bull senior to add, that his chronicler (politely speaking) is not absolutely particular to a shade," as he gravely assures us in another part of his diary, that there were about those days "grete and stronge batailes of sparwes in Engelond in diverses places, wherof the bodyes were founden in ye feldes dede withoughte noumbre." He also eulogized the ladies of London as so preeminent for a cardinal feminine virtue much admired in all ages, that they might be " paralleled with the Sabine women," to none of whom King Solomon's jewel of gold in a swine's snout can be supposed to have applied.
The metropolis, as we have already hinted, presents certain features of peculiar interest just at that unpopular dreamy hour when stars begin to pale their ineffectual fires," and the drowsy twilight of the doubtful day brightens apace into the fulness of morning, "blushing like an Eastern bride." Then it is that the extremes of society first meet under circumstances well calculated to indicate the moral width between their several conditions. The gilded chariot bowls along from square to square with its delicate patrimonial possess or, bearing him homeward in celerity and silence, worn with lassitude, and heated with wine quaffed at his third rout, after having deserted the oft-seen ballet, or withdrawn in pettish disgust at the utterance of a false harmony in the opera. A cabriolet hurries past him still more rapidly, bearing a fashionable physician, on the fret at having been summoned prematurely from the comforts of a second sleep in a voluptuous chamber, on an experimental visit to
“Raise the weak head, and stay the parting sigh,
Or with new life relume the swimming eye."
At the corners of streets of traffic, and more especially
"Where famed St Giles's ancient limits spread,"
the matutinal huckster may be seen
and passing milk-maidens, peripatetic under the yoke of their double pail. Their professional cry is singular and sufficiently unintelligible, although perhaps not so much so as that of the Dublin milk-venders in the days of Swift; it used to run thus,
"Mugs, jugs, and porringers,
Up in the garret and down in the cellar." They are in general a hale, comely, well-favoured race, notwithstanding
the assertion of the author of Trivia to the contrary.*
The most revolting spectacle to any one of sensibility which usually presents itself about this hour, is the painful progress of the jaded, foundered, and terrified droves of cattle that one necessarily must see not unfrequently struggling on to the appointed slaughter-house, perhaps after three days during which they have been running
“Their course of suffering in the public way."
On such occasions we have often wished ourselves "far from the sight of city, spire, or sound of minster clock." One feels most for the sheep and lambs, when the softened fancy recurs to the streams and hedgerows, and pleasant pastures, from whence the woolly exiles have been ejected; and yet the emotion of pity is not wholly unaccompanied by admiration at the sagacity of the canine disciplinarians that bay them remorselessly forward, and sternly refuse the stragglers permission to make a reconnoissance on the road. They are highly respectable members of society these same sheep-dogs, and we wish we could say as much for "the curs of low degree," that just at the same hour begin to prowl up and down St Giles's, and to and fro in it, seeking what they may devour, with the fear of the Alderman of Cripplegate Within before their eyes. The feline kind, however, have reason to think themselves in more danger at the first round of the watering cart, for we have often rescued an unsuspicious tortoise-shell from the felonious designs of a skin-dealer, who was about to lay violent hands on unoffending puss, while she was watching the process of making bread through the crevices of a Scotch grating.+
Another animal sui generis, occasionally visible about the same cockcrowing season, is the parliamentary reporter, shuffling to roost, and a more slovenly-looking operative from sun
rise to sunset is rarely to be seen. There has probably been a double debate, and between three and five o'clock he has written "a column bould.” No one can well mistake him. The features are often Irish, the gait jaunty or resolutely brisk, but neither "buxom, blithe, nor debonnair," complexion wan, expression pensive, and the entire propriety of the toilette disarranged and degagée. The stuff that he has perpetrated is happily no longer present to his memory, and neither placeman's sophistry nor patriot's rant will be likely in any way to interfere with his repose. Intense fatigue, whether intellectual or manual, however, is not the best security for sound slumber at any hour, more particularly in the morning.
Even at this hour the swart Savoyard (filius nullius) issues forth on his diurnal pilgrimage, "remote, unfriended, melancholy, slow," to excruciate on his superannuated hurdy"the gurdy that sublime melody, hundred and seventh psalm," or the plaintive sweetness of " Isabel," perhaps speculating on a breakfast for himself and Pug somewhere between Knightsbridge and Old Brentford. Poor fellow! Could he procure a few bones of mutton, how hard would it be for his hungry comprehension to understand the displeasure which similar objects occasioned to Attila on the plains of Champagne !
Then the too frequent preparations for a Newgate execution but enough. of such details; it is the muse of Mr Crabbe that alone could do them justice. We would say to the great city, in the benedictory spirit of the patriot of Venice,-esto perpetua! Notwithstanding thy manifold "honest knaveries," peace be within thy walls, and plenty pervade thy palaces, that thou mayst ever approve thyself, oh queen of capitals,
"Like Samson's riddle in the sacred
"On doors the sallow milk-maid chalks her gains: Oh! how unlike the milk-maid of the plains!"
They say that no town in Europe is without a Scotchman for an inhabitant. This trade in London is generally professed by North Britons, and it is always a cause of alarm to a stranger if he notices the enormous column of black smoke which is emitted from their premises at the first dawn of the morning.
THE HOUSE OF ORANGE.
THE origin of the illustrious family was German, and the name Nassau. They mount to the highest German antiquity, and the highest European rank, for they boast of having given an Emperor Adolphus Nassau to Germany, at the close of the twelfth century. There is surer ground for the possession of the provinces of Gueldres and Zutphen, by their ancestor, Count Otho of Nassau, in the fourteenth century; and his descendants either preserved or increased his possessions, until they stood among the most prominent of the great northern barons, and were deemed to be entitled to the first honours of the general Flemish government. In the commencement of the sixteenth century, on the return of the Archduke Philip to Spain, Engilbert, second Earl of Nassau, was appointed by him Governor-General of the Netherlands; and from this period commenced the new fortunes of the family, which, after trying them by every difficulty that could develope courage and talent, ended by placing them upon the native throne.
king obstinacy for firmness, and severity for justice, personal resentment for the rights of his empire, and personal prejudice for the honour of his religion.
The governorship of the Netherlands had made Henry of Nassau familiar with the interests of the empire, and his gratitude to the Archduke may have bound him to the cause of Charles. The young Emperor acknowledged, in the event, that to this powerful and zealous friend he was largely indebted for the crown; and, as a proof of his gratitude, Henry was selected to place the diadem of the Cæsars on his head at the coronation. But his fortunes were not yet complete. On the conclusion of the peace, he was deputed by Charles to do the stipulated homage to France for the counties of Flanders and Artois. The French king, struck with his accomplishments, or anxious to conciliate so distinguished a noble, offered him the hand of Claudia, sister of Philibert Chelon, the Prince of Orange. By this marriage, the principality of Orange came into the family; Philibert dying childless, and his territories descending to his nephew, Prince Reveus, the son of Henry and Claudia.
Engilbert died without children, but he left a brother, John, to whom, or rather to his able and gallant sons, he bequeathed his territories. the death of John, Henry of Nassau, The fortunes of the second brothe elder son, inherited the family ther, William, were still more mepossessions in the Netherlands. Wil- morable. He distinguished himself liam, the younger, became master of by his early and intrepid adoption those in Germany. Both brothers of Protestantism, when this adopwere favourites of fortune. The suc- tion menaced him with the power of cession to the crown of Germany the most profligate and formidable was the grand prize of the time. It tyranny that ever crushed the huwas contended for by the two lead- man mind; and from him was deing spirits of the age, Charles the Fifth scended a son, who was to fight the and Francis the First, two men of battle of religious truth with a gegreat abilities, great ambition, and nius and courage worthy of the sharing between them all the re- highest name, and the most illustrisources of Europe. The contest was ous cause. That son was the great made still more striking by the com- William of Nassau, born in 1533, at plete contrast of their characters: Dillemberg, in the county of Nassau, Francis, a Frenchman, when France and, by the testament of Prince Rewas the land of chivalry, and made veus, who died without children, by nature to be the representative of Prince of Chalons and Orange. his nation; daring, brilliant, and devoted to military fame; but rash, fickle, and voluptuous:-Charles, the German, in all the leading features of his mind, brave, calm, and per severing; but charged with mista
The accession of Philip II. to the Spanish throne threw the Netherlands into universal alarm. It threat ened them with all the pressures of a foreign government, and that government wielded by a tyrant with