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Under the dominion of the Romans, London soon assumed a very different appearance, and acquired the importance for which its situation so well fitted it. Civilization, which followed the footsteps of their legions, and marked the extent of their conquests, spread even amongst the savage and illiterate Britons. London became the residence of the Prefect, and to it, as to the capital, soon flocked all classes and degrees. After the lapse of so many centuries, it is scarcely possible to give any idea of the topography of London at that early period; but the testimony of ancient historians—the discovery of antiquities, and the investigations of ingenious men, have combined to throw some little light upon the subject. It is certain, that during the time of the Roman occupation of England, fortifications were raised to aid the national strength of the position, and London was surrounded by lofty walls, through ports or gates, in which the only entrances were afforded. The original number of these gates is a matter of some doubt, but judging from the Roman roads which are known to have passed through London, we may conclude that there were not less than four. The centre of the town, or point of intersection of these ways, seems to have been near the east end of the present Cannon Street, where was placed that piece of antiquity now called London Stone. Here five Roman ways met, the Watling Street from the south-east and north-west, the Hermine Street from the south-west and north, and a Vicinal Way from the north-east. The first of these, the famous Watling Street, entered the city from the south by a ferry over the Thames at Dow-gate (or Water-gate, as the origin of the name imports), and after proceeding to London Stone, turned off to the north-west, and passed towards Holborn by a gate, formerly called Chamberlain's-gate, and afterwards New-gate. The Hermine Street joined the Watling Street on the Southwark bank, and proceeded with it to Lordon Stone, whence it took a northerly direction, and passed out of the city at Cripple-gate. The Vicinal Way led from London Stone to Ald-gate. If this be correct, the four original gates of the city were Dow-gate, New-gate, Cripple-gate, and Ald-gate. Along the wall, at proper intervals, were towers of defence, and a little to the west of Cripple-gate, without the wall, was a high barbican or watch-tower, from whence there was a view of the whole town, and also into Kent, Essex, and Surrey.
Thus fortified and protected, London continued to increase in size and importance during all the time of the government of the Romans; but that people were at length obliged to call home their legions to defend themselves, and England was then for many years torn by internal divisions and hostile invasion. For four centuries we learn little of London, except that it was alternately desolated and destroyed by Britons, Saxons, and Danes; nor was it until the reign of the immortal Alfred, that it again emerged from obscurity. Under the influence of his salutary regulations, it increased so rapidly in wealth and magnitude, that during the reign of Canute we find the portion of a tax allotted to be paid by London alone, is one-sixth of the sum to be levied upon the whole kingdom.
The peaceful times of Edward the Confessor appear to have been very favorable to London, which then acquired importance and stability by the settlement of its privileges upon so firm and plain a basis, that after kings, in their confirmatory charters, merely refer to them “ as they were in King Edward's days.” Domestic tranquillity encouraged the inhabitants to turn their attention to commerce, and London became a mart to which the merchants of many kingdoms made resort for the purposes of trade, so that when William the Conqueror assumed the government, he found his capital a populous and thriving city. Lud-gate and Alders-gate had been added to the gates before mentioned-a wooden bridge had been thrown across the Thames, and many houses erected without the walls. Along Flete or Fleet Street, these new erections extended nearly as far as the present Temple Bar. Some idea may be formed of the size of the metropolis, at that period, from the fact that at the time of the great fire in 1666, there were, at the least, sixty churches of Saxon origin. Most of them were in the heart of the city, and were consequently destroyed; but there are some few yet remaining to attest the fact. A church dedicated to St. Paul, is said to have been built in the seventh century; that edifice was destroyed by fire in the year 961, and a structure of greater elegance erected on its site. The nobles had residences and gardens, occupying large spaces in various parts of the town, and the wealthier citizens began to have their places of retirement in the suburbs at the village of Holeburne (now Holborn), or on the moor which lay beyond the wall on the north. From the Tower to Lud-gate a long row of houses extended on the bank of the river (the wall by the water-side having gone almost entirely to decay), but how far to the north the buildings had spread is somewhat difficult to determine. There can be no doubt that they reached as far as the West Chepe or market, but only the south side was built upon, and that merely with hovels or sheds in which goods might be exposed to sale. London seems always to have spread to the west-the first chepe or market was the East Chepe, but as the town increased we hear of the West Chepe, now termed Cheapside. That street anciently extended from St. Paul's to Aldgate; the Poultry was merely the space occupied by poulterers, and Cornbill, which formerly reached from the Poultry to Aldgate, was the place set apart for the sale of corn. That part extending from Birchin Lane to Grace-church Street, and back to Lombard Street, was the Grass Market; and the church of All Hallows, Lombard Street, from its vicinity to it, was termed “ The Grass Church.” To the north of this long line of markets, were some houses of the nobility thinly scattered, and between them and the chepe there appears to have been a good deal of uninclosed ground, which was used by the citizens for their amusements. It was here, according to the expressions of an historian in the time of Henry II. that “ the sportful youths were exercised in leaping, dancing, archery, wrestling, casting the stone, in hurling darts beyond a mark, and in fighting with shields. The maidens also assembled for the dance, and the earth was pressed by their nimble feet even after the moon had risen." There also were practised the sports of bull and bear-baiting, and running at the quintain. But this space of ground soon became covered with crowded streets, and then all these amusements were transferred to the Smooth-field by Aldersgate (now Smithfield), which was long celebrated for the tournaments and jousts which took place there.
No precise account can be given of the exact number of churches in London, in the time of the Saxons, the number, sixty, which we have before cited, is most probably much too small
. Fitzstephen, who wrote in the reign of Henry II., states, that there were in his time one hundred and twenty-two parish churches, and thirteen convents, but how many of these had been erected subsequently to the conquest, cannot now be determined. Amongst the monastic institutions, we ought not to omit mention of the splendid establishment called “ St. Martin's le Grand." This erection is said to have owed its origin to Wythred, King of Kent, A.D. 700, but its chief importance was derived from the additions made to it by two brothers named Ingilricus and Girardus in the year 1056. Many subsequent princes, among whom we may mention William the Conqueror, distinguished it with their favour. It was erected into a separate jurisdiction independent of the city--its possessions and privileges were enlarged, and the dangerous right of sanctuary was conferred upon it. In clearing the ground some years since, for the erection of the New Post Office, various remains of this ancient building were discovered, and many accounts were then published concerning it, which must be fresh in the memory of the public.
In the ancient street called Aldermanbury, the citizens had their Guildhall, and near to it stood a royal palace, said to have been built by King Adelstan, or, as we usually term him, King Athelstan. The buildings now erected upon the site of this palace are at present called Addle Street, but its ancient name was King Adel Street. There was also at that time another royal palace near the site of the present St. Bride's Church, in Fleet Street, but the mere existence of these buildings is all that can be learned.
The information to be obtained upon these subjects is at best but very imperfect for all that the most industrious can do is merely to preserve "some remnants of history which have casually escaped the shipwreck of time.”
“ Jon. OLDBUCK, Jun.”
A HYMN TO VENUS.
Delicious cup,-where virgin lips have met,
Those lips which, pouting, own'd their sweet employ;
Amidst the blisses of that boundless joy.
To woman's fondest hour, and faintest sigh;
Possess'd a tender heart, a beaming eye.
O'er all but love (for once I knew its bliss),
One sweet return shall light an hour like this.
Which calls remembrance back to other days,
Was in the poet's theme to woman's praise.
G. C. C.
THE FEUDAL SYSTEM.
“ A base and rotten policy.”
Amongst barbarous and illiterate nations, the form of government is necessarily simple, and not fettered with any of that complicated machinery by which legislation is now rendered an intricate and difficult science. The great objects of the law were at that time not to prevent fraud, but to restrain rapine--not to unravel the intricate web of cunning, but to subvert the open danger of violence; the chicanery and duplicity of more civilized beings, are unknown to the rude wanderers of the desart; force is the only means they take to accomplish their ends, and therefore against force only their laws must be directed. In such a state of society the strong are a terror to the weak; but at present, if oppression exist at all, it is the rich
and the reason seems to be, not that mankind are less inclined to tyrannize than formerly, but that they are restrained by the increased power of the law. At that time, the law dared not interfere with the powerful baron, nor would he employ the dilatory means it presented to crush the humble serf ; but now it can cope equally with the inhabitant of the palace, or the poor tenant of the hovel. The quarrels between thane and thane, were then thought of too important a nature to be decided by mere men; an earthly adjudication was insufficient to determine
the poor ;
between them, and therefore, as is said by a learned apologist of warfare, “ they appealed to the highest tribunal that can be, namely, the trial by war, wherein the Great Judge and Sovereign of the world, the Lord of Hosts, seems in a more especial manner than in other cases, to decide the controversy."
Thus it was with the quarrels of the nobles; but the case was far different when a poor peasant happened to draw down upon him the indignation of any of these powerful chieftains. Their vengeance came upon the devoted victim, like the eagle upon its unprotected prey—" at one fell swoop” they avenged their insulted dignity, and oftentimes committed unprovoked outrages, which no one could or dared resent. To render themselves in some degree secure against this oppression, the lower classes of the community, giving up a part of their freedom, attached themselves to the service of some thane or lord, who, in return, granted them protection. In time of war, the vassal fought the battles of the thane, and performed duties for him in peace; and on the other hand, to commit any outrage upon the vassal, was to insult the lord, and draw down the weight of his vengeance. Mutual defence became thus the great bond of society; and these associations for co-operation and assistance, so simple and obvious in their origin, iinproved at length into that regular and methodical arrangement which we denominate the feudal system. In England, its progress was slow and almost imperceptible, until the arrival of William the Conqueror : some have doubted whether the distinction of feuds existed at all amongst the Saxons; however that may have been, there can be no doubt that William established amongst us this " law of nations in the western world," with all its rigour and severity.
The grand, fundamental, and operative principle of this system is, that all the lands in the kingdom belonged originally to the king; from whom, or from those to whom he granted them, every one has derived that part which he holds, and for which he is bound to perform certain duties, and render certain services. The Norman barons received large grants of land upon these feudal conditions, the king reserving to himself the dominion and ultimate property, and (upon the breach of these conditions) the right to resume the possession. These barons, who were vassals
the king with respect to the property thus held, divided the estates granted to them, and apportioned each part to some other person, to hold upon the like services to be performed to the baron, as he was bound to perform for the whole to the king; thus becoming lord toward these his vassals, of that property of which he himself was but vassal to the king. It was in this division of feuds that the great superiority of the system consisted ; for the services to be performed being chiefly military, the whole kingdom became one warlike establishment, which could at any time be set in motion at the wili of the sovereign, or ultimate lord.
These feuds, fees, or rewards, as the original of the word signifies, were held, at first, entirely at the will of the lord; but