Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

pitchers. Of cutlery, 16,000 knives and forks, and 612 pairs of carvers. Damask table-cloths 1,250 yards; 150 dozen of damask napkins; and 75 dozen for waiters, knivecloths, &c.

There was a challenge made by the king's champion, supported by the lord high constable and the deputy earl marshal—they being mounted on horse, prancing in the midst of the hall among the tables, and before all the guests sitting!

Royal orders were issued in 1274 to the sheriffs of eight different counties to furnish the following provisions for the coronation of Edward I., viz., 440 oxen, 743 swine, 360 sheep, and 22,560 fowls.

In 1307, Edward II. ordered the seneschal of Gascony and constable of Bordeaux to furnish 1,000 pipes of good wine for the occasion of his coronation.

The fêtes at the coronation of Henry VIII. and Catharine of Arragon; subsequently of Anne Boleyne; of Mary, Henry's daughter, the first female that swayed the English sceptre; and of Elizabeth-were magnificent, as well as many others of the English sovereigns that might be mentioned.

In this connexion the following curious document from the Close Rolls of the Tower of London, though not relating to a coronation, may not be uninteresting :

KING John's CHRISTMAS DINNER IN 1213. “The king to Reginald de Cornhill. We command you immediately, on sight of these letters, that you send to Windsor twenty hogsheads of wine, costly, good, and new, both Gascony wines and French wine, and four hogsheads of best wine for our own drinking (ad os nostrum) both two .of white wine and two of red wine, and that it be sent without delay, that it may be received before the day of the Nativity. And we require for our use, against that day, 200 head of pork, and 1,000 hens, and 500lbs. of wax, and 50lbs. of pepper, and 2lbs. of saffron, and 100lbs. of almonds, good and new, and two dozen napkins, and 50 ells of delicate cloth of Rancian, and of spiceries to make salsas (probably this word rather signifies pickles) as much as ye shall judge necessary, and that all these be sent thither by Saturday or Sunday nearest Christmas. And ye shall send thither 15,000 herrings and other fish, and other victual, as Ph. de Langeburgh shall tell you. And all these ye shall buy at the accustomed market, as you may deserve our thanks, and according to custom, you shall give in your accounts at the exchequer. Concerning pheasants (fascianis) or partridges, and other birds, which you shall seek for our use, you shall have them from the manor."

Other precepts, for contributions to the same banquet, order “ 500 hens

and 20 swine,” from the sheriff of Bucks; “200 head of pork and 1,000 hens,” from one Matthew Mantell; “ 10,000 salt eels” from the sheriff of Canterbury, with pheasants, partridges, &c. &c., in similar profusion.

At the coronation of Edward II., 1307, the price of a seat was a farthing ; at his son's, Edward III., it was a half penny; at those of James I. and Charles I., a shilling was given ; it advanced to a half crown at those of Charles II. and James II. ; at Queen Anne's it was a crown; at George II.'s a half guinea ; at those of George III. and George IV., the front seats in the gallery at Westminster Abbey were let at ten guineas* each, and those in commodious houses along the line at no less prices; in ordinary houses from five

guineas to one. One little house, after paying for the scaffolding, cleared £700, and some large houses upwards of £1,000. I understood that tickets for the Abbey, at the coronation of William IV., had been sold for fifteen, twenty, twenty-five, and some for thirty guineas !

There is a custom at the coronation of the kings of England to challenge any other pretensions to the throne, which is done by the king's champion. This takes place at the banquet in the evening. At the coronation of George IV. the banquet was held at Westminster Hall, and this notable ceremony was as follows :

At the north door entered the champion, mounted and in full armour “of a dazzling brightness,” the trappings of his horse no less rich, with a plume of twenty-seven ostrich feathers waving on the head of his steed, and one of sixteen on his own; supported on his right and left by two esquires also mounted and in half armour; preceded by a herald and attended by four pages richly apparelled; two trumpeters, with the champion's arms on their banners; a sergeanttrumpeter with his name on his shoulder; two sergeants at arms with maces. While the king and all his guests were at table, this champion and his troop were ushered into the hall, being announced at the door with three blasts by the trumpeters, and passed up, with the prancing and tramping of horses' feet (the horses being three), between the long lines of tables, under the blazing chandeliers above their heads, and the herald with a loud voice proclaimed the champion's challenge, in the following words :

“ If any person of what degree soever, high or low, shall deny or gainsay our sovereign lord, King George the IV., of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, son and next kin to our sovereign lord King George the III. deceased, to be right heir to the imperial crown of this united kingdom, or that he ought to enjoy the

* A guinea is twenty-one shillings, or about five dollars.

same—here is his champion, who saith that he lieth and is a false traitor-being ready in person to combat with him, and in this quarrel will adventure his life against him on what day soever he shall be appointed.”

Whereupon the champion threw down his gauntlet. This was done three times : at the entrance, at the middle of the hall, and at the foot of the steps of the throne. At the end of which the king drank the health of the champion in a gold cup with a cover; sent it filled to the champion, who also drank the health of the king, exclaiming with a loud voice, “ Long live his majesty, George the IV. ;" and then backing his way out-an awkward movement for such a troop in that place, but a subject may not turn his back upon the prince-he retired from the hall, bearing away the gold cup as a fee.

It was not a little unexpected and startling in the champion of George III. to find, when in the performance of this ceremony he threw down his gauntlet, that it was actually and instantly taken up! An old woman, in service there, and looking on, but, as it would seem, not rightly interpreting the meaning of the affair, as she saw the glove thrown down, thinking it a pity that it should be trampled under foot of the horses, and lost or spoiled, sprang forward and snatching it up, appropriated it to herself! By the terms of the chainpion's challenge, he was bound" to adventure his life in a quarrel against” this old woman! It is not recorded what was the result of the meeting.

William IV. and Queen Adelaide were crowned on the 8th of September, 1831.

TOPOGRAPHY AND GENERAL VIEW OF LONDON.

WHEN I have read of a notable town or place, without expectation of being able to visit it, I have wished it so described that I might see it; but too often have been disappointed. I do not presume to promise to do this of London; but assuming, that some of my countrymen may possibly look into these pages, who will never think of crossing the Atlantic, I will try to give them a little sketch of the topographical features of that great metropolis, and of the relative situation of some of its most notable parts.

It is understood, that London is situated on the River Thames, about sixty miles from the sea on the east-or from the waters of that channel, which separates Great Britain from the continent of Europe. The rivers of so small an island as this are not expected to compare with

those of a continent in magnitude; but the Thames is beau-
tiful, and the depth of its channel, as made by a full tide, is
sufficient to float the largest merchant ships to London.
The sinuous course of the Thames is a great physical
beauty, through the entire vale that is marked by its line.
Having passed Windsor and Richmond, and much classic
ground, it comes into London at Old Chelsea from the west,
bending towards the north, and ontinues in this direction
for two miles or more, till it has passed the notable point
of Whitehall in Westminster on the north bank; a little
beyond which it turns towards the east, and pursues nearly
that direction through the heart of the metropolis, till the
bulk of the town is passed, for a distance of about four
miles; and then bends suddenly to the south about two
miles, as if to salute Greenwich Hospital, after passing
which it wheels again to the north, creating a tongue of
land called the Isle of Dogs—which is made an island by
means of an artificial channel, or channels, constituting the
West India Docks. Running by Blackwall, the extreme
point of London harbour, natural and artificial, the Thames
finds itself at large again, and continues to play its gambols
by seeking the greatest distance to the sea-passing in the
meantime Woolwich and Gravesend, the former a great
naval and military depot, and the latter a port of entry and
embarcation. The following lines by Sir John Denham, in
praise of this notable river, were marked by Dr. Johnson
as one of the purest specimens of poetry ever written. If
they did not commend themselves to all who love the
melodies of the muses, Johnson's recommendation might
possibly have been set down to such a feeling of his, as that
which so characteristically betrayed itself, when, being on
an eminence commanding great beauties of nature in Scot-
land, he was asked which prospect before him he liked best,
he petulantly replied—“The Road to London.” An English-
man may be pardoned if he feels that what graces London
must be a grace. Certainly no one will deny that these
lines are a beauty.

“O! could I flow like thee, and make thy stream
My great example, as it is my theme :
Though deep, yet clear; though gentle, yet not dull;

Strong without rage; without o'erflowing, full."
The Thames, in passing through London, divides it, not
into so nearly equal parts as the Seine does Paris, but yet
sufficiently so to make one feel, who is frequently traversing
the town, that the very heart of it is cut by the line. By far
the greater portion of the metropolis, however, is on the
north side of the river, as much, I should think, as three to
one. It is understood, that unless we are speaking particu:
larly of the City of London, we use London and the metrop-

[ocr errors]

olis as synonymous terms, intending by either of them to comprehend that vast concentration of human beings, lying for the most part within a circle described by a radius of four miles around St. Paul's.

Maitland, in his history of London, 1739, says, in its growth "it has ingulfed one city, one borough, and 43 villages.” But London since then has been immensely extended on all sides, and swallowed up other villages, and entirely covered large districts before vacant, such for example as the parishes of Mary-le-bone and St. Panchras, on which now stand some of the best and most substantial parts of the metropolis. That vast portion of London called the “West End” is of modern growth. The Earl of Burlington, whose house is in the heart of that district, was asked, “why he built his house in Piccadilly, so far out of town ?" His answer was, “ Because I was determined to have no building beyond me.” It is now in the very heart of the metropolis. Westminster and Chelsea on the west are swallowed up in London, or in what is commonly called the metropolis; also Stepney and Hackney on the east; Islington on the north; all the districts in the neighbourhood of the new and principal docks; Walworth, Camberwell, Kennington, on the south; and many other places that might be named in all directions, which used to be entirely separate. “The extent of the metropolis from east to west, or from Poplar to Knightsbridge, is seven miles and a half; its breadth from north to south, or from Islington to Newington Butts, is nearly five miles; with a zigzag circumference of almost thirty miles.” The square miles within these limits are about thirty-six; and after deducting the superficies of the river, of streets, squares, parks, gardens, and all vacant places, it is estimated, that nearly half this ground is covered with houses-probably not less than fifteen square miles.

The city of London proper comprehends only a small district (I have seen no exact measurement of it), somewhat less than two miles, as I should judge, from west to east, and less than one mile in breadth, on the north bank of the Thames, and nearly in the midst of the metropolis. The old walls of the city not being in existence, the boundaries are not obvious to strangers. The only relics of them I have ever seen are Temple Bar, a gate still standing on the west, stretching across one of the greatest thoroughfares of the metropolis, a very ugly thing to look at, and cramping the passage, as well as obstructing the prospect; another is à very perfect gate at St. John's Square, near Smithfield; and a third, a piece of the old wall, still standing near the tower. The latter is very interesting, and is not commonly known, being out of sight of the public. I was shown it by a friend, with whom I was dining one day. It is the

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »