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A ROMANCE OF THE DAYS OF BLUFF KING HAL.
BY JOHN TILLOTSON,
Stone," etc., etc.
THEN from their long slambers the seen it reduced to so many thousand square
Ephesian sleepers woke up to life acres of charred timber and calcined stone, and gazed again on their beautiful city, famous but they saw the fable of the phenix realised; for the image which fell down from Jupiter, a new city sprung from the embers of the old. what strange changes they must, even in a Would any one of those good citizens, think burried glance, have noticed! They had slept you, recognise the city now? I trow not. for nearly two hundred years, and two cen- But if one of the subjects of Carolus Secundus turies are franght with changes in the history could, having seen something of the new city, of a city. Two hundred years ago, this Lon- make out by a few landmarks the general don city of ours was just emerging from the bearing of modern London, still the citizen who smouldering ruins of its former self. The did homage to bluff King Hal would be altogood citizens who had tossed their caps in gether out of his reckoning. London in the the air
, broached the barrel, and set the bon- days of Henry the Eighth bore scarcely any fires ablaze to welcome King Charles, had seen resemblance at all to the London of the reign their grand old city a prey to the flames, of Queen Victoria.
Fields surrounded London, on all sides | than a team of pack-horses is like an express pasture and arable land; the Strand had train. It was lined on either side with shops ; gardens on each side; on the south, a fringe it had a gate, with a portcullis and a drawof noblemen's houses, with gardens running bridge. Generally on the top of the gatedown to the Thames; on the north were fields houses were a few traitors' heads ventilating, which surrounded the Haynıarket. This was and being pecked at by kites and crows. the case in many parts of Holborn, where the Sometimes there was a more miscellaneous Bishop of Ely had a wonderfully fine orchard. assortment of human butcher work—always From East Smithfield to Tower Hill the space enough to teach the people how wrong it was was unocon pied. Finsbury Fields were really to be disloyal, and what bad people came to such, and several windmills stood in them. who did not honour and obey the king. Moorfields lay open towards Hoxton, and those The Archbishop of Canterbury had his called Goodman's afforded pasturage for cattle. palace at Lambeth, as he still has, but it In the rear of Houndsditch lay many fields was far quieter than this now; there were and unoccupied spaces. Drury Lane was a no steamboats impatiently puffing to be pleasant, shadowy, retired spot, where lovers off from the pier, and no boatmen, but the courted, ladies lost their hearts, and travellers prelate's own, lounging on the wet steps, and sometimes lost their purses ; rogues, undis- touting for hire. At Kennington there was mayed by the smell of hemp, stealing “trash,” a royal palace, and the remains of another in according to the poet. At the top of the Bermond's Eye, both at that date venerable. Strand was the cross built by Edward the The city itself was approached from Southking, first of that name, on the spot where wark by the Bridge Gate; besides this gate his wife’s body rested on its way to burial, there were several others, and though they and called by him the dear Queen-Chere have been pulled down, yet the streets which Reine Cross. There were a few houses there- mark their sites still retain their names : thus abouts, and a church dedicated to St. Martin, Cripplegate, Aldgate, Aldersgate, Bishopsgate, and standing in the fields; there was an Moorgate, Newgate, and Ludgate. Stow and hospital also dedicated to St. James, and a later writers name a considerable number of famous conduit. From Chere Reine Cross a gates on the river side, namely, Dowgate, country lane led off on the one side to St. Botolphgate, Billingsgate, Walfgate, but Giles's Fields, and a broad road on the other they appear to have been only wharves or led on to Westininster, where the king had his places for the landing of goods. None of palace, and where the old minster invited to these at any time were of note except Billingsrepose and prayer.
gate, as being associated with the fish market, Although divided from the city by the and Dow-or properly Dwr-Gate or Water silent highway, the borough of Southwark-Gate, on account of the ferry from Watling the South Work of the Danes-was in its Street which crossed the river at this point. way famons. There was abundance of uncul- Temple Bar was not originally a city gate, for tivated land where lean kine grazed; there the wall of London (5,485 yards in circumferwas a church dedicated to St. George the ence) passed along the eastern side of the Martyr, there were two or three places of Fleet Ditch, leaving Fleet Street in the out amusements, places for bear-baiting, which ward of Farringdon, together with the premerry disport was generally well attended ; cincts of Whitefriars and King John's palace there was a fair held pretty often in High Bridewell. Street, Borough, and there was the Marshalsea Narrow, dark, and close were many of the prison which the Wat Tyler rioters pulled | London streets ; the plague lurked in the illdown, but the authorities built up again. ventilated and ill-kept city. What we conThere was the old church of St. Mary Over sider the essentials of health, Light and Air, the Ferry, sometimes called Our Lady's chapel, were not particularly sought after by our foreand there was the ho
Bishop of fathers, but they held firmly to their faith in Winchester hard by the bridge. As for this muscular exertion, and the lads were all bridge, it was no more like our London bridge trained to handle the quarterstaff, waking up the echoes of a summer's eve with their clatter, that Master Stuckey was glad to take back and to pull a long bow at the Newington the complimentary inch and a half, and to sugBatts or in the fields beyond Moorgate. People gest that they should drink some hot ale with rose early, ate heartily, and went to bed by sugar in it at the Boar’s Head. Six foot four times. Altogether their lives were very dif- and a half, straight as an arrow,
broad ferent sort of lives from ours. The law looked shouldered, full chested, sinewy limbs, dark after them rather more sharply than we should skin, dark hair, dark eyes, quick-tempered care for; dictated even as to what sort of but good-humoured, a friend to stick by and clothing a tradesman, his wife, children, and a foe to fear. 'prentices should wear; would allow of nothing There was a difference of opinion as to that savoured of the breaking down of class whether Nick Sherring looked best in his distinction ; dealt summarily with offenders work-a-day dress or his Sunday gear. It is by setting them in the pillory, nailing their most probable that he looked well both ways, ears to it, and slicing off the said ears to save but as we have to introduce him on a holiday, the trouble of pulling the nails out again. In we must present him in his holiday attire. those days there were no poor's rates, the It was the Eve of St. John, a high day with charitable doles given at the religious houses the citizens of London, for that was the time and in the church aisles on Sundays did this when the marching watch was set, and there business. In every parish there was a church- was a grand procession through the streets house to which belonged spits, polls, and other and very much rejoicing. Nick was dressed articles for dressing provisions. Here, on oc- for the occasion. He wore a fustian coat-a casions, the householders met and were merry, full frock-a strong leather belt round his and gave their charity; the young people waist, fastened with a steel clasp; gaskins of came there too, and had dancing, bowling, black velvet, scarlet hose, short boots over the shooting at butts, and other amusements. In instep, and a bonnet of kersey cloth. He fact, say what you may in disparagement of bore his quarterstaff over his shoulder, and the old times, it had its advantages over ours, thus equipped might have been seen an hour and London was a right pleasant place, as before sunset lounging at the door of the Nick Sherring often said.
smithy in East Cheap, gazing at the motley And who could be a better judge than crowd that hurried along the way hieing to honest Nick, born and reared as he had been the different streets through which the pageant within the city walls ? He surely ought to was to pass, and bent on getting eligible have known; indeed, there are few who places. would have questioned any of Nick's state- It was a pleasant night, I promise you, ments, for he always argued with a quarter- and Nick felt quite at his ease. The place staff, an ugly instrument of controversy when itself was picturesque, which East Cheap is wielded by a strong hand. Nick was by trade not now. The wooden houses, with projecta blacksmith, and any one whose business or ing stories and innumerable gables, the twisted pleasure had taken him down the East Cheap chimneys and carved timbers, the sign-boards must have seen him hard at work in the swinging from iron frame-work, the old church smithy, shoeing a horse with a sort of affectionate tower rising high up in the blue sky above interest that was quite charming, or hammer- the houses, with the sunlight full upon it, the ing away with good-will on the glowing iron, glimpse of the ancient fortress, built by the smiting on the anvil with a force that made Conqueror, and before whose outer walls men him look like one of the Cyclops—with two and boys were busy kindling a huge bonfire; good-looking eyes-forging thunderbolts for the throng of holiday people in their best of Zeus. Nick, without any stockings, stood six finery and best of humours-red, green, blue, foot four and a half, “six foot and a half, yellow—with a priest’s black gown or brown putting it roundly,” Master Stuckey, a robe here, and a soldier’s glittering helmet mercers 'prentice at the sign of the Cardinal's there-made up a picture that it would have Hat in Fleet Street, had once ventured to re- been pleasant to put upon canvas.
There mark, but Nick gave it to him so roundly was so much colour, so much life, and the the way.
unsic from the belfry was so pleasant, though could only relieve his feelings by a shont for just a trifle too loud if you stopped close to clubs and 'prentices that wuke up every echo, the church to listen, that Nick might well be and brought forth a clond of swallows from pardoned for the enjoyment he found in it. the eaves to find out what was the matter.
Tables were being ranged before several of Then Nick accosted a lawyer, calling him the houses, spread with fair white cloths, and my lord, and inquiring gravely about some glittering with brilliant pewter. Hundreds law case in which he saia the plaintiff's name of lamps suspended from cunningly wrought he never knew, and had forgotten the defeniron branches were wreathed with green birch, dant’s. The man of law bid him get out for an long fennel, orpin, St. John's wort, white idle dog, who would wear a rope necklace one julies, and such like, together with garlands of of these days, to which Nick retorted bravely; beautiful flowers hanging in festoons across and so first with one and then with another
he amused himself and those about him till Music sounded from almost every house, the time came when he thought fit to leave flaunting wassailers, gay revellers, mummers, the smithy and betake himself to the Stock's and midstrels all vying with each others in Market. While he was securing the door and the novelty or richness of their attire, swept giviug it a sound kick to ascertain that it was by in one unceasing stream; whilst the old safely fastened, a body of the City Carabineers or the infirm, prevented from joining in the came marching down the street, and Nick, crowd, sat at their open casements and called who knew most of them and was liked by all, to each other across the way, telling of the fell into step with them, and waved his bravery of their young days.
bonnet as an affectionate adieu to an upper From the door of the smithy Nick watched | window, from whence the pretty face of the crowd, accosting some, making merry with Mistress Margery looked out, and it was said others, offering imaginary articles for disposal, tbat on that face Nick had already cast sweet anon bursting forth into some quaint old glances. ballad, or shouting out lustily for 'prentices Up the Cheap, the crowds giving way for and clubs. He would nod familiarly to un- the Carabineers, and into Gracechurch Street, known passers-by, and set them wondering a noble and a worshipful place at any time who he could be. He would gaze with well- for the wealth of its traders and goodly dis. feigned astonishment and something of terror play of merchandise, now especially attractive, at the roof or upper window of an opposite all wreathed with flowers and hung with house, and a score of fellows would stop to lanterns that, at the going down of the sun, gaze with wonder also, and ask each other will be ablaze with light. Some of the honses what it meant. He would gravely announce are clothed with tapestry, and balconies are to the crowd of sight-seers whenever any one hung with cloth of gold; the orpin, St. John's of the civic officials in their parti-coloured wort, and white lilies figure conspicuously, liveries chanced to pass, the name of some and many curious devices in honour of the high and distinguished nobleman. Thus Baptist's day are everywhere displayed. The when one of the city marshals came trotting street is filled with sight-seers. Some on ap the Cheap, Nick announced him to the horseback, some on foot, nobility from West. crowd as Earl of Surrey.
minster and the Strand, mobility from Lambeth “What lack ye, my master,” cried Nick, and the Borough ; Babel seems to have re“wbat lack ye; ay, your reverence ?” to a turned or Bedlam broken loose from the barefooted friar. “A fiue fat rectory for hubbub that is made by the people. Vendors you, in a pleasant neighbourhood, seven miles of all sorts of meats and every kiod of liqnor from the Standard. Plenty of venison and are proclaiming the excellent qualities of old canary. What lack ye, what lack ye? what they have for sale ; there is a quack Cheap, cheap, cheap! ”
doctor selling nostrums to cure all sorts of The friar grumbled anything but a bless- sickness—elixirs to insure long life, love ing, and so passed on, whereat Nick affected to potions to cure the heartache. There is & be suddenly overcome with penitence, and bear dancing to the music of a pipe and tabor.
There are half-a-dozen mountebanks exhibiting of the City 'prentices were amusing ineir astounding tricks— tricks that make a coun- leisure with the noble exercise of the quartertryman say, “They be hand and glove with staff. Leaning over the barriers, Nick watched Old Horuey, I'll be sworn;" and a Londoner | the sport, commenting on what was being to respond, “Oh, this is nothing to what we done. can do; don't see this sort of thing at Clover- “Hammer away, lads; bravely done, a good
stroke and a bold. Foul play, StudelyIn the Stock's Market, occupying the space shame !--you handle your staff like a yard where the Bank of England, Royal Exchange, measure. Good again-your pate was not and Mansion House now stand, a very dense broken for nothing last Shrovetide, Dolly, we crowd had assembled. The market itself was live and learn—steady, boys—too much built in the year 1282, by Henry Wallis, action—nay, never get angry over it—" Mayor, and appointed to be a market for Angry, Master Sherry,” says one of the fish and flesh. Hard by the market-house, lads with a face as red as a forge fire-"is it on the occasion to which we refer, a raised not enough to make one angry when he ”platform had been erected, protected from the the "he" was Studely—“hits me like that,” weather by a canvas covering, gaily striped “No-not-angry, Dolly—playfully tap him with white and scarlet. The platform and on the sconce, lad-crack-well done!” canopy were fully decorated with the plants “Why not show us how? " quoth Master appropriate to the day, and there was a goodly Studely, with a sneer on his lip just smo.. display of flags and ensigns. The platform thered, and withal a rather rueful face for had been erected for the accommodation of Dolly's reminder. the wives and daughters of the civic officers, “With good heart," was Sherring's answer, as well as the convenience of any distinguished as he leapt the barrier and stood amongst visitors who might grace the show with their them-towering above them all--a galleon presence. But amongst the bonquet of female among cock-boats. beauty thus brought together, she who was “Now, who'll play with me?" the fairest of the fair, and whose nobility of Play with him! It looked like earnest expression might well compare with the work to come within reach of his cudgel. proudest daughter of England, was Alice “ Against all comers, I take the field,” said Keble, daughter of Sir Henry Keble, one of Nick; "on horseback or on foot, with blunted the principal men in the city. Her figure lances or à outrance~0 yez, Oyez!” was exquisitely symmetrical, her features There was a laugh when he had finished his regular and noble, her complexion of the proclamation, and then a movement in the fairest and clearest hue, the brilliant expression crowd outside, then a tall, broad-shouldered of her eyes and the sharply defined eyebrows man stepped forward, and, as Sherring had added to the loveliness of her appearance. done before him, leapt the barrier, and stood She wore a simple but elegant head-dress of within the enclosure, his hand on his hip, goldsmith's work; her waist, according to the and a broad smile on his open face. He was fashion of the time, was made long and slen- habited in a full frock of the finest scarlet der, encircled by a jewelled chain; the sleeves cloth, with the royal initial on his back and of her dress were tight at the shoulder, a rich breast, a flat cap with parti-coloured ribbons border of fur displaying an undersleeve puffed, on his head, and had large rosettes on his slashed, and otherwise decorated; her dress, shoes. open in the front, displayed below it a beauti- “ I'll accept thy challenge, good Knight of fully embroidered petticoat.
the Chepe,” he said, advancing, “if any one And every cavalier lifted his bopnet whilst of these worshipful gentlemen will for the riding by, and sturdy Nick followed their nonce lend me his quarterstaff.” example in honour of Mistress Keble. At Half-a-dozen were at his disposal ; he length, parting company with his carabineer selected the largest and heaviest. friends, Nick made his way to an enclosure out “Hammer away, then,” said Nick; "per. of the way of the crowd, within which a few form thy devoir like good knight and true.”