John Stow’s (c. 1525-1605) A Survey of London, was first published in 1598, followed by a second edition following in 1603.
A SVRVAY OF LONDON.
Conteyning the Originall, Antiquity,
Increase, Moderne estate, and description of that
City, written in the yeare 1598, by Iohn Stow Citizen of London.
Since by the same Author increased,
with diuers rare notes of Antiquity, and
published in the yeare, 1603.
Also an Apologie (or defence) against the
opinion of some men, concerning that Citie,
the greatnesse thereof.
VVith an Appendix, contayning in Latine
Libellum de situ & nobilitate Londini: Written by
William Fitzstephen, in the raigne of Henry the second.
Imprinted by Iohn Windet, Printer to the honorable Citie of London.
HENRY B. WHEATLEY
Stow’s Survey of London, from its first publication in 1598, has taken rank as the first authority on the history of London, but this very fame has been the cause of some injury to the unity of the work, owing to the additions of successive editors, whose words have often been quoted as if they were written by the original author, although often referring to occurrences long after Stow’s death.
What the reader of to-day wants, is the original work as it left the hands of the veteran antiquary, or as nearly as the change of spelling allows, because this gives him a vivid picture of Elizabethan London—the city in which Shakespeare lived and worked among a multitude of the men and women of those “spacious days,” respecting whom we are all eager to learn something more. The Survey is a masterpiece of topographical literature written by a Londoner of ripe experience, who was interested in everything that occurred around him.
Stow founded his work upon documents of great value collected by himself, and also upon the splendid series of manuscripts belonging to the city of London, to which he had access as “fee’d chronicler” of the corporation.
The great charm of the book to the general reader is to be found in the personal touches by which we are informed of changes and incidents which occurred in Stow’s own experience. Of this special feature several instances have been singled out, such as the boy fetching milk from the farm attached to the abbey of the minoresses, for which he paid one halfpenny for three pints; and the staking out by the tyrannical Thomas Cromwell of part of the gardens of Stow’s father and others in Throgmorton Street to be added to his own garden, which after his execution came into the possession of the Drapers’ Company, and are now covered by Throgmorton Avenue. Stow, in his description of the monuments of St. Paul’s, alluding to the burial places of Sir Philip Sidney, Sir Francis Walsingham and Sir Christopher Hatton, says of[viii] the latter “under a most sumptuous monument where merry poet writ thus—
“Philip and Francis have no tombe,
For great Christopher takes all the roome.”
Henry Holland, in his Monumenta Sepulchralia Sancti Pauli, 1614, tells us that there is “no doubt but the merry poet was the merry old man Stow himself.”
During the whole of his life Stow was indefatigable in his work, but he kept the best wine for the last. The first edition of the Survey of London was published in 1598, when he was past seventy years of age, but there can be no doubt that the whole of his previous life was a preparation for his great work. He always lived in London, and he was interested in every particular connected with his native city. Nothing of value in its history ever escaped him, and what he did not personally know, he often obtained information of from older men than himself. Some of his informants could tell what their fathers saw, so that their reminiscences often take us back to a long past time. It is this mixture of the personal remembrances of old men with his own memory of what he had seen, and his careful examination of places himself, in corroboration of tradition, which give such special value to his book.
Stow was always in search of information at first hand, and other authors were glad to avail themselves of his wide experience. Sir George Buck, when writing the History of Richard III., availed himself of Stow’s information that he had talked to old men who remembered that maligned king as “a comely prince.” Stow’s arrangement of his materials is admirable, and many modern topographers might imitate him with advantage. He himself acknowledged that the model for his Survey was his friend William Lambarde’s excellent Perambulation of Kent, 1576. Some of his explanations of the names of places, being grounded on historical evidence, are often of great value, but others are little better than crude guesses. This is not to the discredit of an author writing in the sixteenth century, but some modern writers, who ought to have a better knowledge of the origin of place names, have been unwise enough to quote these as possible etymologies. Mr. C. L. Kingsford, in his excellent edition of the Survey, has corrected most of these from trustworthy old documents. Stow improved his book in the second edition, published in 1603, two years before his death, but he[ix] omitted some passages in the first edition which are of interest to us, and which are noted in this edition.
Although it is chiefly the Survey which keeps Stow’s memory green in popular esteem, his other literary productions were highly appreciated by many distinguished contemporaries. He found a valuable patron in Archbishop Parker, for whom he edited some old chronicles. Among his many friends must be named Camden, Lambarde, Savile, Dr. Dee, Robert Glover, Somerset Herald, and Fleetwood the Recorder, who hung in his study a portrait of Stow inscribed, “Johannes Stowe, Antiquarius Angliæ.” The “antiquary” was very proud of this honour, and he told Massingham, who records the incident in his diary, that he thought himself “worthy of that title for his pains.”
Stow was born about the year 1525, and came of a good London stock, his grandfather and father were tallow chandlers, and supplied the church of St. Michael, Cornhill, with lamp oil and candles. Thomas Stow, the grandfather, died in 1527, and directed his body “to be buried in the little green churchyard of St. Michael, Cornhill, nigh the wall as may be by my father and mother.”
We have no particulars as to John Stow’s schooling, and Mr. Kingsford points out that his remarks in the “chapter of Schools and other houses of Learning,” respecting his seeing the scholars of divers grammar schools repair to the churchyard of St. Bartholomew, Smithfield, to a scholastic battle of disputation “hardly suggests that he took part in their exercises.”
The general opinion seems to be that he was self-taught, but it is strange that the son of a fairly well-to-do citizen should not have been a scholar at one of these free grammar schools. He did not follow his father’s business as a tallow chandler, but set up for himself as a tailor, in a house by the well within Aldgate, over which in later times a structure was erected widely known as Aldgate pump. Tailors have very generally had to put up with threadbare jokes on their trade, and Stow was no exception to the rule. Aubrey reports that Sir Henry Spelman said to Sir William Dugdale, “We are beholding to Mr. Speed and Stow for stitching up for us our English history,” and Aubrey adds, “It seems they were both tailors.” Stow was admitted to the freedom of the Merchant Taylors’ Company, on 25th November 1547, but was never called to the livery or any office in the company. At the same[x] time he seems to have been highly esteemed, and was helpful to the company. He became a pensioner about 1578, and received four pounds a year until mid-summer 1600; this is sometimes called his “fee” and sometimes his “pension.” At the latter date, when he had fallen upon evil days, his pension was increased to ten pounds a year. This information is given by Mr. C. M. Clode, under the heading of “the loving brother of this mysterie, John Stowe,” in his Memorials of the Fraternity, 1875.
Stow’s first literary work is one that does him great credit, namely, the 1561 edition of Chaucer’s works, and subsequently he helped his “loving friend” Speght with notes from “divers records and monuments,” which that friend used in his edition of Chaucer published in 1597. He then turned to the publication of the results of his historical studies. In 1565, he brought out A Summarie of Englyshe Chronicles, which was frequently reprinted, also The Summarie abridged, first in 1566, and often reprinted. The Chronicles of England were published in 1580 and not reprinted. The Annals of England appeared first in 1592, other editions issued by Stow himself in 1601 and 1605. Editions continued by Edmond Howes were published in 1615 and 1631.
The Annals are much of a compilation, but Stow has made them interesting by the frequent insertion of his own opinions and remarks. The bibliography of these works is somewhat complicated, but Mr. Kingsford has set forth the dates and distinctive characters of the different books with much clearness.
Stow early fell into a discord with the chronicler Grafton, and the two belaboured one another in print, sometimes having resort to bad puns. Grafton sneered at the “Memories of superstitious foundations, fables foolishly stowed together,” and Stow replied by alluding to “empty townes and unfruitfull grafts of Momus’ offspring.”
Stow’s life was a stormy one, and he had much to endure, both publicly and in his own family, but his friends helped him through many of his difficulties. His younger brother Thomas was ungrateful, and a thorn in his side for many years.
In the early part of 1569 he was brought before the Lord Mayor for having in his possession a copy of the manifesto of the Spanish Ambassador on behalf of the Duke of Alva, but he seems to have been able to clear himself. The same matter[xi] was brought before the master and wardens of the Merchant Taylors’ Company. Mr. Clode remarks respecting this occurrence: “It is curious to note from the depositions of the several examinants how very shy of knowing much about the matter they appear to have been. The knowledge or memory of the nine taylors examined was too frequently failing them to bring guilt home to any brother of the craft.”
The trouble about the Alva manifesto drew the attention of the Queen’s Council to Stow’s library, and the Bishop of London (Grindal) was directed to have his house searched, and in reply the Bishop enclosed to Cecil a catalogue of “Stowe the taylour his unlawfull bookes,” amongst these are “a great store of folishe fabulous bokes of old prynt as of Sir Degory, Sir Tryamore,” etc., “old fantastical popish books printed in the old type.” Thomas Stapleton’s translation of Bede’s Ecclesiastical History is among the objectionable books. Nothing, however, came of all this pother.
Stow appears to have been fairly well off for some years of his life, when he spent a considerable amount of money on the extensive collection of manuscripts which he gathered together. This library was well known to and much appreciated by his fellow antiquaries. Many of the important documents are now in the British Museum and other public libraries.
He gave up his business in order to devote himself uninterruptedly to his antiquarian labours. Although these labours were much appreciated they were not profitable, and in consequence his means were very limited in his later years. His poverty was brought under the notice of James I., who acknowledged his claims, but instead of giving substantial aid the king granted letters patent, dated 8th March 1604, authorising John Stow and his deputies to collect money—the “voluntary contribution and kind gratuities” of the king’s subjects. This authority brought little money to the chronicler’s wasted coffers, and it was indeed a pitiful reward for the well-directed labours of a life-time.
Stow did not long survive this remarkable instance of royal favour. He died on the 6th April 1605, and was buried in the Church of St. Andrew Undershaft, Leadenhall Street, where his widow erected a terra cotta monument to his memory, this, which shows the man as he lived, is one of the most interesting monuments in the city of a past London worthy.
Edmond Howes, his literary executor, and continuator of his[xii] Annals, has left a vivid picture of the old chronicler, which completes this short notice of one of the most distinguished “Lovers of London.”
“He was tall of stature, lean of body and face, his eyes small and crystalline, of a pleasant and cheerful countenance; his sight and memory very good; very sober, mild, and courteous to any that required his instructions; and retained the true use of all his senses unto the day of his death, being of an excellent memory. He always protested never to have written anything either for malice, fear, or favour, nor to seek his own particular gain or vain-glory; and that his only pains and care was to write truth. He could never ride, but travelled on foot unto divers cathedral churches, and other chief places of the land to search records. He was very careless of scoffers, back-biters, and detractors. He lived peacefully, and died of the stone colic, being four-score years of age.”
Stow is greatly to be commended for printing as an appendix to his Survey, William Fitzstephen’s Descriptio Londoniæ, which originally formed an introduction to the same writer’s Life of Becket. It is a remarkable relic, and unique in its interest as a vivid description of London in the twelfth century. The author is carried away by his enthusiasm, and probably exaggerates the beauties of the city. But he is not blind to evils, for he wisely says, “The city is delightful indeed, if it has a good governor,” and we know that it did not always have that. The account of the sports of the citizens is particularly valuable, especially the early notice of the use of skates on the Moorfields during the winter time. We may be proud as Englishmen that no other city in Europe possesses so early a description of a mediæval town. It should be noted incidentally that “King Henry the Third” mentioned at the close of Fitzstephen’s account is not the king usually known by that name; but Henry the second son of Henry II. This prince was crowned during his father’s life-time; but died in 1182, seven years before his father. Matthew Paris also speaks of him as Henry III.
An enlarged edition of the Survey was prepared by Anthony Munday after Stow’s death, and published in 1618. In 1633, four months after Munday’s death, another edition, in folio, appeared “completely finished by the study of A. M., H. D., and others.” John Strype took the matter in hand in the next century and made a new book of the Survey in two volumes,[xiii] folio, 1720. The sixth edition, enlarged by John Strype, “brought down to the present time by careful hands,” was published in the same form in 1754-5. Strype died in 1737. This edition of Stow is an excellent history of London, but most persons will agree with Thomas Hearne in his criticism, “Stow should have been simply reprinted as a venerable original, and the additions given in a different character.”
It was not until 1842 that Stow’s edition of 1603 was reprinted, when it was edited by Mr. W. J. Thoms, founder and first editor of Notes and Queries. Mr. C. L. Kingsford produced a critical edition of Stow’s second edition (1603) which is of great value. It was published by the Clarendon Press, Oxford, in 1908. The editor gives an account of Stow’s collections and MSS., tracing their present location.
HENRY B. WHEATLEY.
John Stow, ‘Epistle dedicatory’, in A Survey of London. Sourced From the Text of 1603, ed. C L Kingsford (Oxford, 1908)
TO THE RIGHT Honorable, Robert Lee
Lord Mayor of the City of London, to the Comminalty, and Citizens of the same: Iohn Stow Citizen, wisheth long health and felicitie.
Since the first publishing of the perambulation of Kent, by that learned Gentleman William Lambert Esquier, I haue heard of sundry other able persons to haue (according to the desire of that author) assayed to do somewhat for the particular Shires and Counties where they were borne, or dwelt, of which none that I know (sauing Iohn Norden, for the Counties of Middlesex, and Hertford) haue vouchsafed their labor to the common good in that behalfe. And therefore concurring with the first, in the same desire to haue drawn together such speciall descriptions of each place, as might not onely make vp an whole body of the English Chorographie amongst our selues: but also might giue occasion, and courage to M. Camden to increase and beautify his singular work of the whole, to the view of the learned that be abroad.
I haue attempted the discouery of London, my natiue soyle and Countrey, at the desire and perswasion of some my good friends, as well because I haue seene sundry antiquities my selfe touching that place, as also for that through search of Records to other purposes, diuers written helpes are come to my hands, which few others haue fortuned to meet withall, it is a seruice that most agreeth with my professed trauels. It is a dutie, that I willingly owe to my natiue mother and Countrey. And an office that of right I holde my selfe bound in loue to bestow vpon the politike body & members of the same: what London hath beene of auncient time, men may here see, as what it is now euery man doth beholde: I knowe that the argument, beeing of the chiefe and principall citie of the land, required the pen of some excellent Artisen, but fearing that none would attempt & finish it, as few haue assaied any, I chose rather (amongst other my Labours) to handle it after my playne manner, then to leave it vnperformed. Touching the Dedication I am not doubtfull where to seeke my Patrone, since you be a politique estate of the Citty, as the walles and buildinges be the materiall partes of the same. To you therefore, doe I addresse this my whole labour, as wel that by your authority I may bee protected, as warranted by your owne skill and vnderstanding of that which I haue written. I confesse that I lacked my desire to the accomplishment of some special parts, which some other of better abilitie promised to performe, but as I then professed, haue since out of mine olde Store-house added to this worke many rare notes of antiquitie, as may appeare to the reader, which I do afford in all dutie, and recommend to your view, my labours to your consideration, and my selfe to your seruice, during life, in this or any other. [OLD ENGLISH KEPT]
THE AUTHOR TO THE READER
Because amongst others mine authors, I have oftentimes alleged Fitz-Stephens as one more choice than other, namely, for the ancient estate of this city, more than four hundred years since: and also the said author being rare, I have in this place thought good by impression to impart the same to my loving friends, the learned antiquaries, as the author wrote it in the Latin tongue; and first to note in effect what Master Bale, in commendation of the said author, writeth:
“William Stephanides, or Fitzstephen, a monk of Canterbury, born of worshipful parents in the city of London, well brought up at the first under good masters, did more and more increase in honest conditions and learning; for ever in his young years there appeared in him a certain light of a gentleman-like disposition, which promised many good things, afterwards by him performed. Such time as other spent in brawls and idle talk, he employed in wholesome exercises for the honour of his country, following therein the example of Plato, and was very studious both in humanity and divinity.”
The city of London, his birth-place, the most noble of all other cities of this land, and the prince’s seat, situated in the south part of this island, he loved above all the other, so that at length he wrote most elegantly in Latin of the site and rights of the same. Leland, in divers of his books, commendeth him for an excellent writer. He lived in the reign of King Stephen, wrote in the reign of Henry II., and deceased in the year of Christ 1191, in the reign of Richard I.
|Dedication letter to London Mayor|
|The Author to the Reader|
|The Antiquity of London|
|The Wall about the City of London|
|Of the Ancient and Present Rivers, Brooks, Bourns, Pools, Wells, and Conduits of Fresh Water serving the City|
|The Town Ditch without the Wall of the City|
|Bridges of this City|
|Gates in the Wall of this City|
|Of Towers and Castles|
|Of Schools and other Houses of Learning|
|Houses of Students of the Common Law|
|Of Orders and Customs of the Citizens|
|Of Charitable Alms in Old Times given|
|Sports and Pastimes of Old Time used in this City|
|Watches in London|
|Honour of Citizens, and Worthiness of Men in the same|
|The City of London divided into Parts|
|Tower Street Ward|
|Lime Street Ward|
|Broad Street Ward|
|Langborne Ward and Fennie About|
|Bridge Ward Within|
|Candlewike Street Ward|
|Cordwainer Street Ward|
|Coleman Street Ward|
|[xx]Bassings hall Ward|
|Faringdon Ward Infra, or Within|
|Bread Street Ward|
|Queen hithe Ward|
|Castle Baynard Ward|
|The Ward of Faringdon Extra, or Without|
|Bridge Ward Without (the 26th in number), consisting of the Borough of Southwark, in the County of Surrey|
|The Suburbs without the Walls of the City, briefly touched, as also|
|without the Liberties, more at large described|
|Liberties of the Duchy of Lancaster|
|The City of Westminster, with the Antiquities, Bounds, and Liberties thereof|
|Spiritual or Ecclesiastical Government|
|Hospitals in this City and Suburbs|
|Of Leprous People and Lazar Houses|
|Temporal Government of this City|
|Aldermen and Sheriffs of London|
|Officers belonging to the Lord Mayor’s House|
|Sheriffs of London; their Officers|
|Mayor and Sheriffs’ Livery|
|Companies of London placed at the Mayor’s Feast|
|Liveries worn by Citizens at Triumphs|
|An Apology, or Defence, against the Opinion of some Men, which think that the Greatness of that City standeth not with the Profit and Security of this Realm|
|The Singularities of the City of London|
|Fitzstephen’s Description of London|
FITZSTEPHEN’S DESCRIPTION OF LONDON
William Fitzstephen in the year of 1190 CE
Amongst the noble and celebrated cities of the world, that of London, the capital of the kingdom of England, is one of the most renowned, possessing above all others abundant wealth, extensive commerce, great grandeur and magnificence. It is happy in the salubrity of its climate, in the profession of the Christian religion, in the strength of its fortresses, the nature of its situation, the honour of its citizens, and the chastity of its matrons; in its sports too it is most pleasant, and in the production of illustrious men most fortunate. All which things I wish separately to consider.
OF THE MILDNESS OF THE CLIMATE
“Men’s minds are soft’ned by a temp’rate clime,”
not so however that they are addicted to licentiousness, but so that they are not savage and brutal, but rather kind and generous.
OF THE RELIGION
There is in St. Paul’s church an episcopal see: it was formerly metropolitan, and, it is thought, will be so again, should the citizens return to the island: unless perhaps the archiepiscopal title of St. Thomas, and his bodily presence there, should always retain that dignity at Canterbury, where it now is. But as St. Thomas has ennobled both these cities, London by his birth, and Canterbury by his death, each of them, with respect to the saint, has much to allege against the other, and with justice too. As regards divine worship, there are also in London and in the suburbs thirteen larger conventual churches, besides one hundred and thirty-six lesser parochial ones.
OF THE STRENGTH OF THE CITY
On the east stands the Palatine tower, a fortress of great size and strength, the court and walls of which are erected upon a very deep foundation, the mortar used in the building being tempered with the blood of beasts. On the west are two castles strongly fortified; the wall of the city is high and thick, with seven double gates, having on the north side towers placed at proper intervals. London formerly had walls and towers in like manner on the south, but that most excellent river the Thames, which abounds with fish, and in which the tide ebbs and flows, runs on that side, and has in a long space of time washed down, undermined, and subverted the walls in that part. On the west also, higher up on the bank of the river, the royal palace rears its head, an incomparable structure, furnished with a breastwork and bastions, situated in a populous suburb, at a distance of two miles from the city.
OF THE GARDENS
Adjoining to the houses on all sides lie the gardens of those citizens that dwell in the suburbs, which are well furnished with trees, spacious and beautiful.
OF THE PASTURE AND TILLAGE LANDS
On the north side too are fields for pasture, and a delightful plain of meadow land, interspersed with flowing streams, on which stand mills, whose clack is very pleasing to the ear. Close by lies an immense forest, in which are densely wooded thickets, the coverts of game, stags, fallow-deer, boars, and wild bulls. The tillage lands of the city are not barren gravelly soils, but like the fertile plains of Asia, which produce abundant crops, and fill the barns of their cultivators with
“Ceres’ plenteous sheaf.”
OF THE SPRINGS
There are also round London, on the northern side, in the suburbs, excellent springs; the water of which is sweet, clear, and salubrious,
“’Mid glistening pebbles gliding playfully:”
amongst which, Holywell, Clerkenwell, and St. Clement’s well, are of most note, and most frequently visited, as well by the scholars from the schools, as by the youth of the city when they go out to take the air in the summer evenings. The city is delightful indeed, when it has a good governor.
OF THE HONOUR OF THE CITIZENS
This city is ennobled by her men, graced by her arms, and peopled by a multitude of inhabitants; so that in the wars under King Stephen there went out to a muster, of armed horsemen, esteemed fit for war, twenty thousand, and of infantry sixty thousand. The citizens of London are respected and noted above all other citizens for the elegance of their manners, dress, table, and discourse.
OF THE MATRONS
The matrons of the city are perfect Sabines.
OF THE SCHOOLS
The three principal churches possess, by privilege and ancient dignity, celebrated schools; yet often, by the favour of some person of note, or of some learned men eminently distinguished for their philosophy, other schools are permitted upon sufferance. On festival days the masters assemble their pupils at those churches where the feast of the patron saint is solemnised; and there the scholars dispute, some in the demonstrative way, and others logically; some again recite enthymemes, while others use the more perfect syllogism. Some, to show their abilities, engage in such disputation as is practised among persons contending for victory alone; others dispute upon a truth, which is the grace of perfection. The sophisters, who argue upon feigned topics, are deemed clever according to their fluency of speech and command of language. Others endeavour to impose by false conclusions. Sometimes certain orators in their rhetorical harangues employ all the powers of persuasion, taking care to observe the precepts of the art, and to omit nothing apposite to the subject. The boys of the different schools wrangle with each other in verse, and contend about the principles of grammar or the rules of the perfect and future tenses. There are some who in epigrams, rhymes, and verses, use that trivial raillery so much practised amongst the ancients, freely attacking their companions with Fescennine licence, but suppressing the names, discharging their scoffs and sarcasms against them, touching with Socratic wit the failings of their schoolfellows, or perhaps of greater personages, or biting them more keenly with a Theonine tooth. The audience,
“well disposed to laugh,
With curling nose double the quivering peals.”
OF THE MANNER IN WHICH THE AFFAIRS OF THE CITY ARE DISPOSED
The artizans of the several crafts, the vendors of the various commodities, and the labourers of every kind, have each their separate station, which they take every morning. There is also in London, on the bank of the river, amongst the wine-shops which are kept in ships and cellars, a public eating-house: there every day, according to the season, may be found viands of all kinds, roast, fried, and boiled, fish large and small, coarser meat for the poor, and more delicate for the rich, such as venison, fowls, and small birds. If friends, wearied with their journey, should unexpectedly come to a citizen’s house, and, being hungry, should not like to wait till fresh meat be bought and cooked:
“The canisters with bread are heap’d on high;
The attendants water for their hands supply:”—Dryden.
Meanwhile some run to the river side, and there every thing that they could wish for is instantly procured. However great the number of soldiers or strangers that enters or leaves the city at any hour of the day or night, they may turn in there if they please, and refresh themselves according to their inclination; so that the former have no occasion to fast too long, or the latter to leave the city without dining. Those who wish to indulge themselves would not desire a sturgeon, or the bird of Africa, or the godwit of Ionia, when the delicacies that are to be found there are set before them. This indeed is the public cookery, and is very convenient to the city, and a distinguishing mark of civilisation. Hence we read in Plato’s Gorgias, “Juxta medicinam esse coquorum officium, simulantium et adulationem quartæ particulæ civilitatis.” There is, without one of the gates, immediately in the suburb, a certain smooth field in name and in reality. There every Friday, unless it be one of the more solemn festivals, is a noted show of well-bred horses exposed for sale. The earls, barons, and knights, who are at the time resident in the city, as well as most of the citizens, flock thither either to look on or buy. It is pleasant to see the nags, with their sleek and shining coats, smoothly ambling along, raising and setting down alternately, as it were, their feet on either side: in one part are horses better adapted to esquires; these, whose pace is rougher but yet expeditious, lift up and set down, as it were, the two opposite fore and hind feet together; in another the young blood colts, not yet accustomed to the bridle,
“Which upright walk on pasterns firm and straight,
Their motions easy, prancing in their gait.”—Dryden.
in a third are the horses for burden, strong and stout-limbed; and in a fourth, the more valuable chargers, of an elegant shape and noble height, with nimbly moving ears, erect necks, and plump haunches. In the movements of these the purchasers observe first their easy pace, and then their gallop, which is when the fore-feet are raised from the ground and set down together, and the hind ones in like manner, alternately. When a race is to be run by such horses as these, and perhaps by others, which in like manner, according to their breed, are strong for carriage, and vigorous for the course, the people raise a shout, and order the common horses to be withdrawn to another part of the field. The jockeys, who are boys expert in the management of horses, which they regulate by means of curb-bridles, sometimes by threes, and sometimes by twos, according as the match is made, prepare themselves for the contest. Their chief aim is to prevent a competitor getting before them. The horses, too, after their manner, are eager for the race; their limbs tremble, and, impatient of delay, they cannot stand still; upon the signal being given, they stretch out their limbs, hurry over the course, and are borne along with unremitting speed. The riders, inspired with the love of praise and the hope of victory, clap spurs to their flying horses, lashing them with their whips, and inciting them by their shouts. You would think with Heraclitus, that all things were in motion, and that Zeno’s opinion was altogether erroneous, when he said, that there was no such thing as motion, and that it was impossible to reach the goal. In another quarter, apart from the rest, stand the goods of the peasants, implements of husbandry, swine with their long sides, cows with distended udders,
“Oxen of bulk immense, and woolly flocks.”
There, too, stand the mares fitted for the plough, the dray, and the cart, of which some are big with foal, others have their frolicsome colts running close by their sides. To this city, from every nation under heaven, merchants bring their commodities by sea,
“Arabia’s gold, Sabæa’s spice and incense,
Scythia’s keen weapons, and the oil of palms
From Babylon’s rich soil, Nile’s precious gems,
Norway’s warm peltries, Russia’s costly sables,
Sera’s rich vestures, and the wines of Gaul,
Hither are sent.”
According to the evidence of chroniclers London is more ancient than Rome: for, as both derive their origin from the same Trojan ancestors, this was founded by Brutus before that by Romulus and Remus. Hence it is that, even to this day, both cities use the same ancient laws and ordinances. This, like Rome, is divided into wards; it has annual sheriffs instead of consuls; it has an order of senators and inferior magistrates, and also sewers and aqueducts in its streets; each class of suits, whether of the deliberative, demonstrative, or judicial kind, has its appropriate place and proper court; on stated days it has its assemblies. I think that there is no city in which more approved customs are observed—in attending churches, honouring God’s ordinances, keeping festivals, giving alms, receiving strangers, confirming espousals, contracting marriages, celebrating weddings, preparing entertainments, welcoming guests, and also in the arrangement of the funeral ceremonies and the burial of the dead. The only inconveniences of London are, the immoderate drinking of foolish persons, and the frequent fires. Moreover, almost all the bishops, abbots, and great men of England, are, in a manner, citizens and freemen of London; as they have magnificent houses there, to which they resort, spending large sums of money, whenever they are summoned thither to councils and assemblies by the king or their metropolitan, or are compelled to go there by their own business.
OF THE SPORTS
Let us now proceed to the sports of the city; since it is expedient that a city be not only an object of utility and importance, but also a source of pleasure and diversion. Hence even in the seals of the chief pontiffs, up to the time of Pope Leo, there was engraved on one side of the Bull the figure of St. Peter as a fisherman, and above him a key stretched out to him, as it were, from heaven by the hand of God, and around him this verse—
“For me thou left’st thy ship, receive the key.”
On the obverse side was represented a city, with this inscription, Golden Rome. It was also said in praise of Augustus Cæsar and the city of Rome,
“All night it rains, the shows return with day,
Cæsar, thou bear’st with Jove alternate sway.”
London, instead of theatrical shows and scenic entertainments, has dramatic performances of a more sacred kind, either representations of the miracles which holy confessors have wrought, or of the passions and sufferings in which the constancy of martyrs was signally displayed. Moreover, to begin with the sports of the boys (for we have all been boys), annually on the day which is called Shrovetide, the boys of the respective schools bring each a fighting cock to their master, and the whole of that forenoon is spent by the boys in seeing their cocks fight in the school-room. After dinner, all the young men of the city go out into the fields to play at the well-known game of foot-ball. The scholars belonging to the several schools have each their ball; and the city tradesmen, according to their respective crafts, have theirs. The more aged men, the fathers of the players, and the wealthy citizens, come on horseback to see the contests of the young men, with whom, after their manner, they participate, their natural heat seeming to be aroused by the sight of so much agility, and by their participation in the amusements of unrestrained youth. Every Sunday in Lent, after dinner, a company of young men enter the fields, mounted on warlike horses—
“On coursers always foremost in the race;”
“Each steed’s well-train’d to gallop in a ring.”
The lay-sons of the citizens rush out of the gates in crowds, equipped with lances and shields, the younger sort with pikes from which the iron head has been taken off, and there they get up sham fights, and exercise themselves in military combat. When the king happens to be near the city, most of the courtiers attend, and the young men who form the households of the earls and barons, and have not yet attained the honour of knighthood, resort thither for the purpose of trying their skill. The hope of victory animates every one. The spirited horses neigh, their limbs tremble, they champ their bits, and, impatient of delay, cannot endure standing still. When at length
“The charger’s hoof seizes upon the course,”
the young riders having been divided into companies, some pursue those that go before without being able to overtake them, whilst others throw their companions out of their course, and gallop beyond them. In the Easter holidays they play at a game resembling a naval engagement. A target is firmly fastened to the trunk of a tree which is fixed in the middle of the river, and in the prow of a boat driven along by oars and the current stands a young man who is to strike the target with his lance; if, in hitting it, he break his lance, and keep his position unmoved, he gains his point, and attains his desire: but if his lance be not shivered by the blow, he is tumbled into the river, and his boat passes by, driven along by its own motion. Two boats, however, are placed there, one on each side of the target, and in them a number of young men to take up the striker, when he first emerges from the stream, or when
“A second time he rises from the wave.”
On the bridge, and in balconies on the banks of the river, stand the spectators,
“well disposed to laugh.”
During the holydays in summer the young men exercise themselves in the sports of leaping, archery, wrestling, stone-throwing, slinging javelins beyond a mark, and also fighting with bucklers. Cytherea leads the dances of the maidens, who merrily trip along the ground beneath the uprisen moon. Almost on every holyday in winter, before dinner, foaming boars, and huge-tusked hogs, intended for bacon, fight for their lives, or fat bulls or immense boars are baited with dogs. When that great marsh which washes the walls of the city on the north side is frozen over, the young men go out in crowds to divert themselves upon the ice. Some, having increased their velocity by a run, placing their feet apart, and turning their bodies sideways, slide a great way: others make a seat of large pieces of ice like mill-stones, and a great number of them running before, and holding each other by the hand, draw one of their companions who is seated on the ice: if at any time they slip in moving so swiftly, all fall down headlong together. Others are more expert in their sports upon the ice; for fitting to, and binding under their feet the shinbones of some animal, and taking in their hands poles shod with iron, which at times they strike against the ice, they are carried along with as great rapidity as a bird flying or a bolt discharged from a cross-bow. Sometimes two of the skaters having placed themselves a great distance apart by mutual agreement, come together from opposite sides; they meet, raise their poles, and strike each other; either one or both of them fall, not without some bodily hurt: even after their fall they are carried along to a great distance from each other by the velocity of the motion; and whatever part of their heads comes in contact with the ice is laid bare to the very skull. Very frequently the leg or arm of the falling party, if he chance to light upon either of them, is broken. But youth is an age eager for glory and desirous of victory, and so young men engage in counterfeit battles, that they may conduct themselves more valiantly in real ones. Most of the citizens amuse themselves in sporting with merlins, hawks, and other birds of a like kind, and also with dogs that hunt in the woods. The citizens have the right of hunting in Middlesex, Hertfordshire, all the Chilterns, and Kent, as far as the river Cray. The Londoners, then called Trinovantes, repulsed Caius Julius Cæsar, a man who delighted to mark his path with blood. Whence Lucan says,
“Britain he sought, but turn’d his back dismay’d.”
The city of London has produced some men, who have subdued many kingdoms, and even the Roman empire; and very many others, whose virtue has exalted them to the skies, as was promised to Brutus by the oracle of Apollo:
“Brutus, there lies beyond the Gallic bounds
An island which the western sea surrounds:
To reach this happy shore thy sails employ:
There fate decrees to raise a second Troy,
And found an empire in thy royal line
Which time shall ne’er destroy, nor bounds confine.”
Since the planting of the Christian religion there, London has given birth to the noble emperor Constantine, who gave the city of Rome and all the insignia of the empire to God and St. Peter, and Pope Sylvester, whose stirrup he held, and chose rather to be called defender of the holy Roman church, than emperor: and that the peace of our lord the Pope might not, by reason of his presence, be disturbed by the turmoils consequent on secular business, he withdrew from the city which he had bestowed upon our lord the Pope, and built for himself the city of Byzantium. London also in modern times has produced illustrious and august princes, the empress Matilda, King Henry the Third, and St. Thomas, the archbishop and glorious martyr of Christ, than whom no man was more guileless or more devoted to all good men throughout the whole Roman world.
GO NEXT PAGE