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THE TOWER IN DANGER.
winds to places above sixteen miles distant, to the great admiration of beholders !
Nothwithstanding the great losses by the fire, the devouring pestilence in the city the year preceding, and the chargeable war with the Dutch at that time depending, yet by the king's grace, the wisdom of the Parliament then sitting at Westminster, the diligence and activity of the lord mayor, aldermen, and commoners of the city, (who were likewise themselves the most considerable losers by the fatal accident) it was in the space of four or five years well nigh rebuilt. Divers churches, the stately Guildhall, many halls of companies, and other public edifices; all infinitely more uniform, more solid, and more magnificent than before ; so that no city in Europe (scarcely in the universe) can stand in competition with it in many particulars.*
The fire of London ending at the east end of Tower-street, the extent of which came just to the dock on the west side of the Tower, there was nothing between the Tower-walls and it but the breadth of the dock, and a great many old timber houses which were built
the banks of the dock, and in the outward bulwark of the Tower and Tower-ditch (which then was very foul) to the very wall of the Tower itself. Which old houses, if the fire had taken hold of, the Tower itself, and all the buildings within it, had in all probability been destroyed. But such was the lieutenant's care of the great charge committed to him, that to prevent future damage, a few weeks after, he caused all these old houses which stood between the Tower-dock and the Tower-wall, to be pulled down: and not only them, but all those which were built upon or near the Tower-ditch, from the bulwark-gate along both the Tower-hills, and so to the Iron-gate; and caused strong rails of oak to be set up upon the wharf where those houses stood which were about four hundred : so that by these means, not only the White-tower but the whole outward Tower-wall and the ditch round about the same, are all visible to passengers, and afford a very fine prospect.
During the whole continuance of this unparalleled calamity, the king himself, roused from his pleasures, commiserated the care of the distressed, and acted like a true father of his people. In a manuscript from the secretary's office, we find these words, “All own the immediate hand of God, and bless the goodness and tender care of the king, who made the round of the fire usually twice every day, and, for many hours together, on horse
Seymour's Survey, i, 70.
back and on foot; gave orders for pursuing the work, by commands, threatenings, desires, example, and good store of money, which he himself distributed to the workers, out of an hundred pound bag which he carried with him for that purpose. At the same time, his royal highness, the Duke of York also, and many of the nobility, were as diligent as possible ; they commended and encouraged the forward, assisted the miserable sufferers, and gave a most generous example to all, by the vigorous opposition they made against the devouring flames.
The king and the duke, with the guards, were almost all the day on horseback, seeing to all that could be done, either for quenching the fire, or for carrying off persons or goods to the fields. The king was never observed to be so much struck with anything in his whole life.
In the dreadful fire of London, the king and the duke did their utmost in person to extinguish it; and after it had been once mastered, and broke out again in the Temple, the duke watching there all night, put an effectual stop to it by blowing up houses.
Afterward, when the multitudes of poor people were forced to lodge in the fields, or crowd themselves into poor huts and booths built with deal boards, his majesty was frequent in consulting all ways to relieve these wretches, as well by proclamations, as by his orders to the justices of the peace, to send provisions into Moorfields and other places ; and moreover he sent them out of the Tower the warlike provisions which were there deposited for the seamen and soldiers, to keep them from starving in this extremity.
At the same time he proclaimed a fast throughout England and Wales ; and ordered that the distressed condition of the sufferers should be recommended to the charity of all well-disposed persons, upon that day, to be afterwards distributed by the hands of the lord mayor of London. Lastly, to shew his special care for the city's restoration, in council, wherein he first prohibited the hasty building any houses till care should be taken for its reedification, so as might best secure it from the like fatal accident; for the encouragement of others, he promised to rebuild his Custom-house, and to enlarge it, for the benefit of the merchants and trade; which he performed at his own particular charge, and at the expense of ten thousand younds.
At the news of the fire of London all the good subjects of Ireland were seized with the utmost consternation upon that de
BILLS SUBMITTED TO PARLIAMENT.
plorable accident in compassion to the sufferers, the lordsieutenant (the Duke of Ormond) set on foot a subscription for their relief, which rose to a higher value than could be expected in so distressed a country, where there was not money to circulate for the common necessities of the people, or to pay the public taxes : therefore, the subscription was made in beeves, thirty thousand of which were sent to London.*
Extract from the Speech of Sir Edward Turner, Speaker of
the Honourable House of Commons, at the Prorogation of the Parliament, February, 8, 1667.
We must for ever with humility acknowledge the justice of God in punishing the whole nation in the late conflagration in London. We know they were not the greatest sinners on whom the tower of Siloam fell; and doubtless all our sins did contribute to the filling up that measure, which being full, drew down the wrath of God upon our city; but it very much reviveth us to behold the miraculous blessing of God upon your Majesty's endeavours for the preservation of that part of the city which is left. We hope God will direct your royal heart, and this fortunate island, in a few days to lay a foundation-stone in the re-building of that royal city; the beauty and praise whereof shall fill the whole earth. For the encouragement of this noble work we have prepared several bills; one for the establishing a judicatory for the speedy determining all actions and causes of action that may arise between landlords and tenants upon this sad accident. Though I persuade myself no Englishman would be exempted from making some offering 10 carry on the pions undertaking, yet the exemplary charity of your majesty's twelve reverend judges is fit with honour to be mentioned before your majesty : they are willing to spend all their sand that doth not run out in your majesty's immediate service, in dispensing justice in their several courts to your people, in hearing and determining the controversies that may arise upon old agreements, , and making new rules between owners and tenants, for their mutual agreement in this glorious action. We have likewise prepared a bill for the regularity of the new buildings, that they may be raised with more conveniency, beauty, and security than they had before : some streets we have ordered to be opened and enlarged, and many obstructions to be removed ; but all with
* Carte Ormd. i. 329.
your majesty's approbation. This, we conceive, cannot be done with justice, unless a compensation be given to those that shall be losers ; we have, therefore laid an imposition of twelve pence upon every chaldron, and every ton of coals that shall be brought into the port of London for ten years, the better to enable the Lord Mayor and aldermen to recompense those persons whose ground shall be taken from them.
Rome was not built in a day: nor can we in the close of this session finish the rules for the dividing the parishes, re-building of the churches, and the ornamental parts of the city, that we intended; these things must rest till another session : but we know your majesty in the meantime will take them into your princely consideration, and make it your care that the houses of God, and your royal chamber, be decently and conveniently restored.
The fire of London had exercised the wits and inventions of many heads, and especially put several ingenious persons on contriving and setting up offices for insuring of houses from fire; since which many of those offices are framed.
All persons were indefatigably industrious in the great work of re-building; and when all provisions were made for the city's resurrection, the famous Sir Jonas Moore first of all produced the beautiful Fleet-street, according to the appointed model ; and from that beginning the city grew so hastily toward a general perfection, that within the compass of a few years it far transcended its former splendour.
In the meantime, Gresham College was converted into an exchange, and in the apartments the public business of the city was transacted, instead of Guildhall.
To the same place, Alderman Backwell, a noted banker, removed from Lombard-street. Alderman Meynell, and divers other bankers of Lombard-street were preserved in their estates, and settled in and about Broad-street.
The Royal Society being driven out from Gresham College, Henry Howard, brother to the Duke of Norfolk, late Earl Marshal of England, invited that noble body to hold their meetings at Arundel House, where he assigned them very convenient rooms, and, on New Year's day, being himself a member of that society, he very generously presented them and their successors with a fair library of books; being the whole Norfolkian library, with permission of changing such books as were not proper for their collection.
SITUATION OF OFFICES DURING REBUILDING.
Sir Robert Viner, a very great banker, providentially removed all his concerns twenty-four hours before the furious fire entered Lombard-street, and settled in the African-house, which was then kept near the middle of Broad-street, till such time as he built that noble structure in Lombard-street, now used for the General Post Office, which was purchased by King Charles the Second for that purpose. The neatly wrought conduit in the Stocks market-place, at the west end of Lombard-street (the spot on which the Lord Mayor's Mansion House is since erected) whereon was placed a large statue of King Charles the Second on horseback, trampling upon an enemy, was set up at the sole cost and charges of that worthy citizen and alderman, Sir Robert Viner, knight and baronet.*
The excise office was kept in Southampton-fields, near Southampton (now Bedford House.)
The General Post Office was moved to the Two Black Pillars, in Bridges-street, Covent Garden.
The affairs of the Custom House were transacted in Mark-lane, at a house called Lord Bayning's, till the Custom House was rebuilt in a much more magnificent, uniform, and commodious manner, by King Charles the Second, which cost him £10,000.
The office for hearth money was kept near Billeter-lane, in Leadenhall-street.
The king's great wardrobe, together with the fair dwelling houses of the master and officers, near Puddle Wharf, being consumed, that office has since been kept in York Housebuildings.
The buildings of Doctor's Commons, in the Parish of St. Bennet, Paul's Wharf, near St. Paul's, being entirely consumed
* Of this clumsy piece of sculpture we have the following account from Maitland's Survey, page 1,049 :—“It is impossible to quit this place without taking notice of the equestrian statue raised here in honour of Charles II. ; a thing in itself so exceedingly ridiculous and absurd, that it is in no one's power to look upon it without reflecting on the tastes of those who set it up. But when we enquire into the history of it, the farce improves upon our hands, and what was before contemptible, grows entertaining. This statue was originally made for John Sobieski, King of Poland, but, by some accident was left upon the workman's hands." About the same time the city was loyal enough to pay their devoirs to King Charles immediately upon his restoration; and finding this statue ready made to their hands, resolved to do it in the cheapest way, and convert the Polander into a Briton, and the Turk underneath into Oliver Cromwell, to make their compliment complete: and the turban upon the last mentioned figure is an undeniable proof of the truth of the story.