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Title: South London
Author: Besant, Walter, 1836-1901
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "South London" ***

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SOUTH LONDON



WALTER BESANT'S LONDON BOOKS.

UNIFORM EDITION. Demy 8vo. cloth, 5_s._ net each.


LONDON.

With 125 Illustrations.

    'What the late J. R. Green has done for England Sir Walter Besant
    has here attempted, with conspicuous success, for Cockaigne. The
    Author of "A Short History of the English People" and the historian
    of the London citizen share together the true secret of popularity.
    Both have placed before the people of to-day a series of vivid and
    indelible pictures of the people of the past.... No one who loves
    his London but will love it the better for reading this book. He who
    loves it not has before him a clear duty and a manifest
    pleasure.'--_Graphic._

    'Sir Walter Besant knows and loves his London thoroughly, and his
    beautifully illustrated book will call up in the minds of those who
    bow to the spell a thousand delights of memory and expectation. He
    contrives not merely to call back the old London, but to make the
    London of the present more living than before.'--_Spectator._


WESTMINSTER.

With 131 Illustrations.

    'Sir Walter Besant has told the story of the old city (London) and
    its corporate life in a way which has never been surpassed--not even
    equalled. The past of the mother of municipal life he has made to
    live and breathe in a manner which reduces all other records of
    London to the mere dryasdust category. But we like his "Westminster"
    even better.... There is nothing but admiration to be expressed as
    well for the plan as for the execution.'--_Daily Chronicle._

    'Sir Walter Besant has here given us a worthy companion to his
    charming book on "London."... From beginning to end the narrative
    never flags, the illustrations never fail, and one rises from its
    reading with fuller ideas of the historic interest of the place and
    a greater veneration for the ancient Abbey and all its relics of the
    past.'--_Guardian._


SOUTH LONDON.

With 120 Illustrations.

    'To all Londoners who realise the absorbing fascination of the great
    world they live in we cordially recommend it as a worthy sequel to
    the author's previous volumes. It is written by an enthusiast who is
    also an accomplished writer, by a student who is a close observer of
    life; and it passes before the reader's imagination a series of
    indelible pictures which clothe our prosaic and monotonous South
    London with the romance which is its due.'--_Literature._


EAST LONDON.

With 55 Illustrations by PHIL MAY, RAVEN HILL, and JOSEPH PENNELL.

    'Sir Walter Besant knows London as no one has known it since Charles
    Dickens.... He has given a lifetime to the acquisition of his
    knowledge of the great city. He was grey before he attempted to
    write his monumental works on "London," "Westminster," and "South
    London"--books which have earned him his title as the historian of
    London--and he has postponed his book on "East London" until his
    sixty-fifth year.... Crammed with antiquarian lore mingled with
    human interest and saturated with genuine sympathy for the people is
    this study of "East London."... A thoroughly masterly
    book.'--_Literary World._

Crown 8vo. cloth, 3_s._ 6_d._


FIFTY YEARS AGO.

With 144 Plates and Woodcuts.

    'A series of entertaining chapters, to which the droll illustrations
    of George Cruikshank and the inimitable portraits by Daniel Maclise
    lend additional effect.... The book is full of movement and colour,
    and presents a vivid and interesting picture of the great reign of
    Queen Victoria.'--_Speaker._

Small 8vo. cloth (in the ST. MARTIN'S LIBRARY), gilt top, 2_s._ net
each; feather, gilt edges, 3_s._ net each.

    LONDON.                    WESTMINSTER.
    SIR RICHARD WHITTINGTON.   JERUSALEM.
    GASPARD DE COLIGNY.

London: CHATTO & WINDUS, 111 St. Martin's Lane, W.C.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: F. S. Walker, R.E.

S^t. Saviour's, Southwark.]



SOUTH LONDON

BY

WALTER BESANT

AUTHOR OF
'LONDON' 'WESTMINSTER' 'EAST LONDON' ETC.

[Illustration]

A NEW EDITION
WITH AN ETCHING BY FRANCIS S. WALKER, R.E.
AND 119 ILLUSTRATIONS

LONDON
CHATTO & WINDUS
1912



PREFACE


In sending forth this book on 'SOUTH LONDON,' the successor to my two
preceding books on 'LONDON' and 'WESTMINSTER,' I have to explain in this
case, as before, that it is not a history, or a chronicle, or a
consecutive account of the Borough and her suburbs that I offer, but, as
in the other two books, chapters taken here and there from the mass of
material which lies ready to hand, and especially chapters which
illustrate the most important part of History, namely, the condition,
the manners, the customs of the people dwelling in this place, now, like
Westminster, a part of London: yet, until two or three hundred years
ago, an ancient marsh kept from the overflowing tide by an Embankment,
joined to the Dover road by a Causeway, settled and inhabited by two or
three Houses of Religious: by half a dozen Palaces of Bishops, Abbots,
and great Lords: by a colony of fishermen living on the Embankment from
time immemorial, since the Embankment itself was built: and by a street
of Inns and shops.

I hope that 'SOUTH LONDON' will be received with favour equal to that
bestowed upon its predecessors. The chief difficulty in writing it has
been that of selection from the great treasures which have accumulated
about this strange spot. The contents of this volume do not form a tenth
part of what might be written on the same plan, and still without
including the History Proper of the Borough. I am like the showman in
the 'Cries of London'--I pull the strings, and the children peep. Lo!
Allectus goes forth to fight and die on Clapham Common: William's men
burn the fishermen's cottages: little King Richard, that lovely boy,
rides out, all in white and gold, from his Palace at Kennington--saw one
ever so gallant a lad? The Bastard of Falconbridge bombards the city:
Sir John Fastolfe's man is pressed into Jack Cade's army: the Minters
make their last Sanctuary opposite St. George's: the Debtors languish in
the King's Bench. There are many pictures in the box--but how many more
there are for which no room could be found!

I must acknowledge my obligations, first, to the Editor of the _Pall
Mall Magazine_, where half of these chapters first had the honour of
appearing, for the wealth of illustration of which he thought them
worthy: and next to the artist, Mr. Percy Wadham, who has so faithfully
and so cunningly carried out the task committed to him.

  WALTER BESANT.

    UNITED UNIVERSITY CLUB:
        _September 1898_.



CONTENTS


CHAPTER                                                             PAGE

     I. THE FIRST SETTLEMENTS                                          1

    II. EARLY HISTORY                                                 25

   III. A FORGOTTEN MONASTERY                                         47

    IV. THE ROYAL HOUSES OF SOUTH LONDON                              69

     V. PAGEANTS AND RIDINGS                                         124

    VI. A FORGOTTEN WORTHY                                           134

   VII. THE BOMBARDMENT OF LONDON                                    153

  VIII. THE PILGRIMS                                                 157

    IX. THE LADY FAIR                                                179

     X. ST. MARY OVERIES                                             191

    XI. THE SHOW FOLK                                                206

   XII. BELOW BRIDGE                                                 229

  XIII. THE LATER SANCTUARY                                          241

   XIV. IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY                                    248

    XV. THE DEBTORS' PRISON                                          272

   XVI. THE PLEASURE GARDENS                                         282

  XVII. SOUTH LONDON OF TO-DAY                                       301



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


ST. SAVIOUR'S, SOUTHWARK                                  _Frontispiece_
_Etched by F. S. Walker, R.E._

                                                                    PAGE

VIEW FROM SOUTHWARK MARSH IN PREHISTORIC TIMES                         3

CAUSEWAY ACROSS SOUTHWARK MARSH                                        7

FISHERS' HUTS AT THE MOUTH OF THE FLEET                                9

BARKING CREEK                                                         11

RELICS OF THE STONE AGE                                               15

A RELIC OF THE STONE AGE                                              17

RELICS OF THE BRONZE AGE                                              19

MERCHANTS CROSSING SOUTHWARK MARSH                                    27

LONDON BRIDGE, A.D. 1000                                              29

A DANISH HOUSE                                                        31

SHIPS, BAYEUX TAPESTRY                                                33

A VIKING SHIP                                                         34

SKETCH MAP                                                            37

DIAGRAM                                                               40

THE GOKSTAD SHIP                                                      41

SHIPS OF WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR                                        43

BAYEUX TAPESTRY                                                       45

THE MONASTERY OF BERMONDSEY                                           51

BERMONDSEY ABBEY                                                      52

GATEWAY OF BERMONDSEY ABBEY                                           53

ST. OLAVE, SOUTHWARK                                                  61

'LE LOKE'                                                             63

REMAINS OF THE PALACE OF THE BISHOP OF WINCHESTER, FROM THE SOUTH     67

THE LONG BARN                                                         70

SKETCH MAP                                                            71

GATEWAY IN THE HALL, ELTHAM PALACE                                    75

THE ANCIENT ROYAL PALACE AT GREENWICH                                 77

SEAL OF THE BLACK PRINCE                                              83
_From Allen's History of Lambeth_

THE HIGH STREET, SOUTHWARK, AS IT APPEARED MDXLIII                    85

REMAINS OF ELTHAM PALACE, 1796                                        91

KING JOHN'S PALACE, KENT                                              93
_From a Drawing by J. Hassell, 1804_

REMAINS OF ELTHAM PALACE                                              95

THE MOAT BRIDGE, ELTHAM PALACE                                        97

GREENWICH, 1662                                                       99
_From a Drawing by Jonas Moore_

GREENWICH HOSPITAL                                                   101
_From a Drawing by Schnebbelie_

LAMBETH PALACE                                                       109

BONNER HALL, LAMBETH                                                 111

RESIDENCE OF GUY FAWKES, LAMBETH                                     113
_From 'La Belle Assemblée,' November 1822_

BISHOP'S WALK, LAMBETH                                               114

INTERIOR OF THE HALL, LAMBETH PALACE                                 115
_From an Engraving dated 1804_

LAMBETH PALACE, FROM THE RIVER                                       116

LOLLARDS' TOWER, LAMBETH PALACE                                      117

DOORWAY IN THE LOLLARDS' TOWER                                       119

LOLLARDS' PRISON                                                     121

WHITE HART INN, SOUTHWARK                                            137

SURREY END OF LONDON BRIDGE, FROM HIGH STREET, SOUTHWARK             139

THE SITE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF'S HOUSE IN TOOLEY STREET                143

HOUSES IN HIGH STREET, SOUTHWARK, 1550                               149

OLD HALL, KING'S HEAD, AYLESBURY                                     158

OLD HALL, AYLESBURY                                                  159

CANTERBURY PILGRIMS                                                  160

15TH CENTURY GOLDSMITH                                               165

RICH MERCHANT AND HIS WIFE, 14TH CENTURY                             165

14TH CENTURY CRAFTSMAN                                               168

14TH CENTURY MERCHANT                                                168

14TH CENTURY CRAFTSMAN                                               168

PEDLAR                                                               175
_From the Stained Window in Lambeth Church_

MINSTRELS, A.D. 1480                                                 177

BOOTH, SOUTHWARK FAIR                                                181

GREENWICH PARK ON WHITSUN MONDAY                                     187
_From an Engraving by Rawle, 1802_

A SEAL OF ST. MARY OVERIES                                           192

SEALS OF ST. MARY OVERIES                                            193

NORTH-EAST VIEW OF ST. SAVIOUR'S, SOUTHWARK, 1800                    194

CRYPT OF ST. MARY OVERIES                                            195

GATEWAY OF ST. MARY'S PRIORY, SOUTHWARK, 1811                        197
_From a Drawing by Whichelo_

REMAINS OF THE OLD PRIORY, ST. MARY OVERIES                          199

TOMB OF BISHOP ANDREWS, ST. MARY OVERIES                             201

A CORNER IN ST. SAVIOUR'S, SOUTHWARK                                 203

ST. SAVIOUR'S, SOUTHWARK, 1790                                       204

WINCHESTER PALACE                                                    207

THE GLOBE THEATRE                                                    209
_From the Crace Collection_

BEAR GARDEN                                                          213

THE BEAR GARDEN AND HOPE THEATRE, 1616                               221

INTERIOR OF THE OLD SWAN THEATRE                                     223

A FÊTE AT HORSELYDOWN IN 1590                                        231
_From the Painting by G. Hoffnagel, at Hatfield_

THE OLD ELEPHANT AND CASTLE, 1814                                    233

VIEW NEAR THE STORE-HOUSE, DEPTFORD                                  235
_From an Engraving by John Boydell, 1750_

GEORGE HOTEL, BOROUGH                                                239

MINT STREET, BOROUGH                                                 245

OLD HOUSE, STONEY STREET, SOUTHWARK                                  249

ST. THOMAS'S HOSPITAL                                                250
_From an old Print_

SOME ANCIENT HOUSES IN THE LONG WALK, BERMONDSEY                     251

JAMAICA HOUSE, BERMONDSEY                                            252

QUEEN ELIZABETH'S FREE GRAMMAR SCHOOL                                253

ANCIENT BUILDINGS, HIGH STREET, BOROUGH                              254
_From a Drawing by T. Higham, 1820_

THE FALCON TAVERN, BANKSIDE                                          255

AN OLD MILL, BANKSIDE                                                256

JOHN BUNYAN'S MEETING HOUSE, BANKSIDE                                257

THE OLD TOWN HALL, SOUTHWARK                                         258

OLD HOUSES IN EWER STREET                                            259

COURTYARD OF THE DOG AND BEAR INN                                    261

THE WHITE BEAR TAVERN, SOUTHWARK                                     263

ALLEN ROPEWALK, SOUTHWARK                                            265

A SOUTH LONDON SLUM                                                  267

THE OLD TABARD INN, SOUTHWARK                                        268

ST. GEORGE, SOUTHWARK: NORTH-WEST VIEW                               269
_From an Engraving by B. Cole_

REMAINS OF THE MARSHALSEA: N.E. VIEW. A, CHAPEL; B, PALACE COURT     273
_From 'The Gentleman's Magazine,' September 1803_

KING'S BENCH PRISON                                                  275

ANOTHER VIEW OF THE KING'S BENCH PRISON                              277

VAUXHALL GARDENS                                                     283
_From the Engraving by J. S. Müller_

VAUXHALL JUBILEE ADMISSION TICKET                                    285

THE DOG AND DUCK, BETHLEM                                            289

A DOORWAY, CURLEW STREET, BERMONDSEY                                 301

IN SNOW'S FIELDS, BERMONDSEY                                         302

THE TEMPLE FROM THE SURREY BANK                                      303

HOLY TRINITY, ROTHERHITHE                                            305

CZAR PETER'S HOUSE, DEPTFORD                                         307

ALLEYN'S ALMSHOUSES, 1840                                            309

DULWICH COLLEGE, 1780                                                311

FROM THE TOWER OF ST. SAVIOUR'S                                      313

RED CROSS GARDENS, SOUTHWARK                                         315

ST. SAVIOUR'S DOCK                                                   317

BELOW CHERRY GARDEN PIER                                             319

THE GEORGE INN                                                       321

LITTLE DORRIT'S WINDOW IN THE MARSHALSEA                             321

ALCOVE FROM OLD LONDON BRIDGE, NOW AT GUY'S                          323

THE ENTRANCE GATES TO GUY'S                                          325

A FORMER ENTRANCE TO ST. THOMAS'S HOSPITAL                           327



SOUTH LONDON



CHAPTER I

THE FIRST SETTLEMENTS


I propose to call the series of chapters which are to follow by the
general name of 'South London.' Like their predecessors on 'London' and
'Westminster,' they will not attempt, or pretend, to present a
continuous history of this region--or, indeed, a history at all: they
will endeavour to do for this part of London what their predecessors
have already attempted for the Cities of London and Westminster: that is
to say, they will present such episodes and incidents, with such
characters, as may serve to illustrate the life of the place; the
manners and customs of the people; the characteristics of the Borough
and its outlying suburbs. So far as history means the march of armies
and the clash of armour, we shall here find little history. So far,
also, as history means the growth of our liberties, the struggles by
which they were won; the apparent decay, or defeat, from time to time,
of the spirit of freedom, with its inevitable recovery: the reader and
the student may be referred to the pages of a Stubbs or a Freeman--not
to my humbler page. Great is the work, and worthy to be held in the
highest honour, of those who trace out the irresistible march of
national freedom: I cannot join their company; I must be contented with
the lowlier, yet somewhat useful, task of showing how the people, my
forefathers, lived, and what they thought, and how they sang and
feasted and made love and grew old and died.

My South London extends from Battersea in the west to Greenwich in the
east, and from the river on the north to the first rising ground on the
south. This rising ground, a gentle ascent, the beginning of the Surrey
hills, can still be observed on the high roads of the south--Clapham,
Brixton, Camberwell. It now occupies the place of what was formerly a
low cliff, from ten to thirty or forty feet high, overhanging the broad
level, and corresponding to those cliffs on the other side of the river,
which closed in on either side of Walbrook and made the foundation of
London possible. If we draw a straight line from the mouth of the Wandle
on the west to the mouth of the Ravensbourne on the east, we shall,
roughly speaking, indicate the southern boundary of our district;
unless, as we may very well do, we include Greenwich as well. The whole
of this region constitutes the Great South Marsh: there is no rising
ground, or hillock, or encroaching cliff over the whole of this flat
expanse. Before the river was embanked it was one unbroken marsh: for
eight miles in length by a varying breadth of about two or two and a
half miles, the tidal stream twice in the twenty-four hours submerged
this space. Here and there lay islets or eyots, created, as the
centuries crept on, by the gradual accumulation of branches, roots,
reeds and rubbish, till they rose a few inches above high water; the
spring-tide covered them--sometimes swept them away--then others began
to form. In later times, after the work of embankment had been
commenced, these islets became permanent, and were afterwards known as
Battersea, Bermondsey, Rotherhithe, Lambhithe, Newington, Kennington.
Even then, for many a long year, they were but little areas rising a
foot or two above the level, covered with sedge, reeds, and tufts of
coarse grass, hardly distinguishable from the rest of the ground around
them. Before the construction of the river wall, no trees stood upon
this morass, no flowers of the field flourished there, no thorns and
bushes grew, no cattle pastured there; the wild deer were afraid of it:
there were no creatures of the land upon it. On the south side rose the
cliff of clay and sand, continually falling and continually receding
before the encroaching tide; on the north side ran the river; beyond the
river the cliff stood up above the water's edge, where the tiny stream,
afterwards named from the Wall, leaped bright and sparkling into the
rolling flood. No man could live upon that marsh: its breath after
sunset and in the night was pestilential.

[Illustration: View from Southwark Marsh in Prehistoric Times.]

Many streams poured into this marsh, and at low tide made their way
across it into the Thames: at high tide their beds were lost in the
shallows. Among them--to use names by which they were afterwards
distinguished--were the Wandle, the Falcon, the Effra, the Ravensbourne,
and others which have disappeared and left no name. And so for
unnumbered years the tide daily ebbed and flowed, and the reeds bent
beneath the breeze, and the clouds scudded overhead, and the wild birds
screamed, far away from the world of men and women, long after men and
women began to wander about this Island called Albion. No one took any
thought of this marsh, any more than they heeded the marshes all along
the lower reaches of the river; and these were surely the most desolate,
dreary stretches of water and mud anywhere in the world. Those who wish
to realise what manner of country it was which stretched away on the
north and south of the Thames may perhaps get some comprehension of it
if they stand on the point at Bradwell in Essex, beside the ruined
Chapel of St. Peter-on-the-Wall, and look out at low tide to east and
north.

In a previous volume dealing with another part of the country called
London I showed to my own satisfaction, and, I believe, that of my
readers, that long before there existed any London at all, except
perhaps a village of a few fishermen with their coracles, Westminster or
Thorney was a busy and crowded place of resort, through which the whole
trade of the country north of the Thames passed on its way to Dover and
the southern ports. This position, new as it was, and opposed to the
general and traditional teaching--opposed, for instance, to the
traditional belief of Dean Stanley--has never been attacked, and may be
considered, therefore, as generally accepted. When or how the trade of
Thorney began, to what extent it developed, we need not here inquire.
Indeed, I know not that any fragments of fact or of tradition exist
which would enable us to inquire. The fact itself, as will be
immediately seen, is of the highest importance as regards the beginning
and early history of the Southern settlements.

The ancient way of trade, then, ran across the island called afterwards
by the Saxons Thorney, the Isle of Bramble, now Westminster. All the
trade of the north passed over that little spot, on which arose a
considerable town for the reception of the caravans. After resting a
night or so at Thorney, the merchants went on their way. Those who
travelled south, making for Dover, crossed over the ford, where there
was afterwards a ferry. This ferry continued until the erection of
Westminster Bridge in the last century: the name still survives in
Horseferry Road. After the passage of the ford, the travellers found
themselves face to face with a mile of dangerous bog, marsh and swamp,
through which they had to plod and plough their way, sinking over their
knees, up to the middle, before they emerged upon the higher ground, now
called Clapham Rise. To the merchants driving their long chains of
slaves and heavily laden packhorses and mules from the north, this was
the worst bit of the whole journey. Every day there were rivers to be
forded, in which some of their slaves might get drowned or might escape;
there were dark woods, in which they might be attacked by hostile
tribes; there were hills to climb; but nowhere, in the whole of their
journey, was there a piece of country more difficult than this great
swamp beyond the Ford of Thorney. They splashed and floundered through
it, over ankles, over knees, up to the middle, up to the neck, in mud
and muddy water. The packhorses sank deep down with their loads; they
took off the loads and laid them on the shoulders of the slaves, who
threw them off into the mud, and let them stay there, while they made a
mad attempt to escape. Horse and mule; slave and slave-load; iron, lead,
and skins: the merchant paid heavy tribute while he crossed the marshes
and waded through the shallows of the broad tidal river.

At some time or other, the idea occurred to an unknown person of
engineering genius in advance of his time, that it might not be
impossible to construct a causeway across this marsh; and that such a
causeway would be extremely useful and convenient for those who used the
Thorney Fords. Perhaps the causeway was his own invention; perhaps the
work was the first causeway ever constructed in this country; perhaps
the inventor began on the smallest possible scale, with a very narrow
way across the marsh to the nearest dry ground, which was, of course,
somewhere beyond Kennington; perhaps the work, colossal for the time,
carried the merchants and their caravans across the whole extent of the
marsh--five miles and more--to the rising ground of Deptford or
Greenwich, the nearest point to Dover. The causeway was not unlike those
which now run across the Hackney Marshes; that is to say, it was raised
so high as to be above the highest spring tide, about six feet above the
level of the marsh. It was constructed by driving piles into the mud at
regular intervals, forming a wall of timber within the piles, and
filling up the space with gravel and shingle, brought from
Chelsea--'Isle of Shingle'--or from the nearest high ground, where is
now Clapham Common. The breadth of the causeway, I take it, was about
ten or twelve feet. The construction of the work rendered the passage
across the marsh perfectly easy, and greatly facilitated that part of
the trade of the island which lay in the midland and on the north.

When was this causeway, the first step in road-making, constructed?
Perhaps it was a Roman work. I think, however, that it is older than the
Roman occupation; and for these reasons. When London was first visited
by the Romans it was already a flourishing city with a '_copia
negotiatorum_;' in other words, it had already succeeded in attracting
the greater part of the trade which formerly passed through Thorney. Had
the Romans built the causeway, they would have constructed it along a
line drawn from one of the two old ferries to Deptford. The causeway,
therefore, must have existed when the Romans arrived upon the scene,
together with, as we shall see immediately, the second causeway
connecting the ferry with the first causeway. I dare say the Romans
strengthened the work: turned it from a gravelled way, soft in bad
weather, into one of their hard, firm Roman roads; faced it with stone,
and made it durable. If South London were to be stripped of all its
houses, the two causeways would be found still, hard and firm, beneath
the mass of accumulated soil and rubbish, as the Romans left them.

If you draw a straight line from 'Stanegate,' close to the end of
Westminster Bridge, as far as the beginning of the Old Kent Road, you
will understand the lie of the causeway. And this causeway, understand,
was the very first interference of the hand of man with the marshes
south of the Thames. It was a way across the marsh: not an embankment
against the river, but a way. It did not keep out the tide which flowed
in on the other side--the Battersea side: it was simply a way across the
marsh. For a long time--we cannot tell how long--it remained the
principal way of communication for the trade of Britain between the
north and the south, the midland and the south, the eastern counties and
the south.

[Illustration: Causeway across Southwark Marsh.]

Consider, next, the site of London, as it appeared to the merchants
crossing the causeway. They saw, in the centuries of which no trace or
memory remains, when they turned their eyes northward, first a level of
mud, sprinkled with little eyots of reed and coarse grass, then the
broad river, and beyond the river two streams, one fuller than the
other, each in its own valley--that of the Walbrook was 132 feet wide at
the present site of the Mansion House--falling into the river; a low
cliff ran along the north bank, leaving stretches of marsh, as on the
south, but, where these streams ran into the Thames, approaching close
to the river, and actually overhanging it. On the river they saw
numerous coracles, with fishermen catching salmon and every kind of fish
in their nets. No river in the world was more plentifully stocked with
fish; overhead flew screaming innumerable birds--geese, ducks,
herne--which the trappers trapped, snared, shot with sling and stone by
the thousand. On those cliffs overhanging the river, the travellers by
the causeway saw the huts of the fisherfolk. Then, perhaps, they
remembered the plenty of the markets of Thorney; the abundance of birds,
the vast quantities of fish offered on those stalls. Those who were
curious connected the coracles on the river and the birds that flew up
from the lowlands with these markets; they saw that London--'the place
or fort over the Lake'--was the settlement which furnished Thorney with
a good part of her supplies. And this I verily believe to have been the
real origin and cause of London. It was first settled by the humble folk
who came here for the purpose of catching fish and trapping birds for
the market of Thorney. This is a suggestion only; it will be set aside,
most certainly, by those who are not pleased with the upsetting of old
theories. To those who are able to realise the ancient condition of
things and all it means, the suggestion will be received, I am
convinced, as more than a theory: it will be regarded and accepted as a
discovery.

Let us put it in another way. Thorney was a place of great resort, as I
have shown in these pages already: every day passed into Thorney, and
out of Thorney, long processions or caravans of merchants with
merchandise carried by slaves--the most valuable part of their
merchandise--and by packhorses and mules; they waded through the
northern ford; they rested for a night in one of the inns of the place:
next day they waded through the southern ford, attained the causeway,
and went south. Or else it was the reverse way. The place required a
daily supply of food, and, as there were many travellers, a great
quantity of food. If you go down the river from Thorney, you will find
that the present site of London, on the two hillocks rising out of the
river, was the first and only place where men could put up huts in which
to live while they caught fish and trapped wild birds for Thorney. If,
therefore, the Isle of Bramble was a flourishing centre of trade long
before London was a place of trade at all, then the original London must
have been a settlement of fishermen and trappers who supplied the
markets of Thorney.

[Illustration: Fishers' Huts at the mouth of the Fleet.]

In course of time--we are still in prehistoric times--the site of
London was discovered by seamen and merchant adventurers exploring the
rivers in their ships. It was found cheaper and easier and safer to
carry goods to and from Thorney by way of sea than by land. To coast
along from Dover to the strait between Rum--the Isle of Thanet, and the
mainland--to pass through the strait and up the river, was found easier
and cheaper than to undertake the costly and dangerous march from Dover
to Thorney Ford. This way, then, was by many undertaken; and so a
certain part of the trade along the old causeway was diverted.

The next step was the discovery of London as a port. There was no port
at Thorney: on the site of London were the two natural ports of Walbrook
and the mouth of the Fleet; there was a high ground safer and more
salubrious than that of Thorney; ships began to anchor there, quays were
erected, goods were landed; the high road which we call Oxford Street
was constructed to connect London with the highway of trade--afterwards
Watling Street; and the trade of London began.

Now, if you look once more at the map of the south as it was, you will
observe that London at its first commencement had no communication with
any part of the world except by water. The first road opened was, as I
have said, the connection with Watling Street; what was the next? It was
a connection with the high road to Dover: that connection was the road
which we now call High Street, Borough. These two roads were the first
communication between London and any other place; all the other roads,
to the north and south and west and east, came afterwards. It was
necessary for London to have an open and direct connection, by land as
well as by sea, with the then principal port of the country. The High
Street formed that open communication; it began not far to the west of
St Saviour's Church, opposite the Roman Trajectus, the mediæval ferry,
now St. Mary Overies Dock.

Observe, however, that we are as yet very far from embanking the river,
or draining the marsh, or making it inhabitable. If you walk across
Hackney Marsh by one of its causeways any autumnal morning, especially
after rain, you will understand something of what Southwark looked like.
Two high causeways crossed the marsh, of which as yet not a square foot
had been drained or reclaimed; yet the place was not so wild as it had
been; the wild birds had been partly driven away by the noise and crowd
of London, and by the concourse of ships sailing continually up and
down. There was as yet no bridge. The ferry crossed the river backwards
and forwards all day long. The causeways were crowded with people; but
as yet nothing on the lowlands. Before the marshes could be drained the
river had to be embanked.

[Illustration: Barking Creek]

No one knows when that was done. It was done, however. At some time or
other a high earthwork was raised along the north and south banks of
the river, enclosing the marshes, converting them into pasture and
arable land, and keeping out the tides of Thames. It was a work of the
most signal benefit; it was also a colossal piece of work, measured by
hundreds of miles, for it was continued all round the islets and coast
of Essex. It was a work requiring constant repair, though most of it has
stood splendidly. The wall gave way, however, at Barking in the time of
Henry the Second; at Wapping in the time of Elizabeth; at Dagenham early
in the last century: at each of these places the repair of the wall was
costly and difficult. The embankment left behind it a low-lying ground,
rich and fertile; orchards and woods began to grow and to flourish upon
it; yet it was still swampy in parts, numerous ponds lay about on it,
streams wound their way confined in channels, and let out through the
embankment at low tide by culverts.

Whether the bridge came before the embankment I cannot decide. Yet I
think that the embankment came first; for the existence of
Southwark--that of any part of South London--depended not on the bridge,
but on the embankment and the ferry. Given, however, the embankment; the
two causeways; the bridge; two ferries--one at St. Mary Overies and the
other lower down, opposite the Tower: given, also, direct communication
with Dover, with Thorney--thence with the midlands and the north: there
could not fail to arise a settlement or town of some kind on the south
of the Thames.

Let us next consider the conditions under which the town of Southwark
began to exist and to continue for a great many years.

(1) There was no wall or any means of defence, except the marsh which
surrounded it and prohibited the approach of an army except along the
causeway.

(2) The ground lay low on either side the causeway, and south of the
embankment. Although the tide no longer ebbed and flowed among the reeds
and islets of the marsh, yet it was covered with small ponds, some of
them stagnant, others formed by the many streams which flowed towards
the culverts on the embankment, through which at low tide they escaped
into the Thames; until some kind of drainage was attempted, the place
caused agues and fevers for any who slept in its white miasma. In other
words, not an embankment only, but drainage of some kind, had to be
undertaken before life was possible on the marsh.

(3) There were no quays, no shipping, no merchants, no trade, on the
south side. All merchandise coming up from the south for export at the
port of London, all merchandise landed at the port for the south, had to
be carried across the bridge.

(4) The crowds of people connected with the trade of London--the
porters, carriers, drivers, grooms and stable-boys, stevedores,
lightermen, sailors foreign and native, the _employés_ of the merchants,
their wives, women and children--all these people lived in London
itself; they had their taverns and drinking shops; their sleeping places
and eating places, in London; all the people employed in providing food
and drink and sport, lived on the other side. South London had to be a
place without trade, without noise, without disturbance of workmen,
without broils among the sailors or fights among foreigners.

(5) It stood on the south bank of a river swarming with fish.

(6) The only parts on which houses could be built were along the line of
the causeways, or along the line of the embankment.

These were the conditions. We should expect, therefore, to find the
place thinly inhabited; and to find that the houses were all built
beside or along the raised ways. We should next expect to find along
the causeways that the houses belonged to the wealthier class.

We should expect, further, to find no sailors' or working men's
quarters. The former because there were no ships; the latter because
there were no markets. Lastly, we should not be surprised to find the
place very early occupied by inns and places of accommodation for those
who resorted to London.

All this was, in fact, what did take place. The Roman remains are
numerous; they are all found along the causeways; the existence of a
Roman cemetery shows that it was a place of some importance. I say
_some_, because its very limited extent proves that it was never a large
place. I will return immediately to the Roman remains.

There was, however, one trade, one class of working men which took up
its abode along the embankment of Southwark: it was that of the
fishermen, driven across the river by the growth of London. There was no
room for the fishermen with their coracles and nets along the line of
quays on the north side; they wanted a place to haul up their boats, and
a place to spread their nets,--they could not find either in the north;
nor would the fish be caught in waters troubled perpetually by oars and
keels. The fisherfolk, therefore, put up their huts along the
embankment; for long centuries afterwards the fisherfolk continued to
live in South London. The last remnant of Thames fishermen occupied,
well into the present century, a single court in Lambeth; it is
described as unpaved, unglazed, unlighted, dirty, and insanitary. But
the last salmon had been caught in the river; the Thames fishermen were
by that time almost starved out of existence. I am sure that the south
was always their place of residence; the foreshore offered them what
they could not find on the north bank. To him, however, who considers
the fisheries of the Thames, there are many points on which, for want of
exact information, he may speculate and theorise as much as he pleases.
For instance, later on, there were fishermen living at Limehouse. Some
of the Thames watermen lived here also--the legend of Awdry the ferryman
assigns to him a residence on the south; their favourite place of
residence, however, was St. Katherine's first, and Wapping afterwards.

[Illustration: RELICS OF THE STONE AGE]

The Roman remains found up and down the place prove my assertion that
the people who lived here were what we should call substantial. One need
not catalogue the long list of Roman _trouvailles_; but, to take the
more important, in the year 1819 there was discovered, in taking up the
foundations of some old houses belonging to St. Thomas's Hospital, in
St. Thomas's Street, a fine tesselated pavement, about ten feet below
the surface of the ground. In the following year, in the area facing St.
Saviour's Grammar School, seven or eight feet below the surface, there
was found another, of a more elaborate design. Only a part of this was
uncovered, as the Governors of the School forbade further investigation:
it remains to this day still to be examined and unearthed, under the
present potato and fruit market. At the entrance of King Street, at a
depth of fifteen or sixteen feet, were found a great many Roman lamps, a
vase, and other sepulchral deposits. And in tunnelling for a new sewer
through Blackman Street and Snow Fields, in 1818 and 1819, and again in
Union Street, in 1823, numerous Roman antiquities were discovered. In
Trinity Square was found a coin of Gordianus Africanus. In Deverill
Street, south of the Dover road, other coins were discovered; in St.
Saviour's churchyard, a coin of Antoninus Pius. It has also been proved
that an extensive Roman cemetery existed on the south of the ancient
settlement. In the year 1840, when excavations were going on for the
purpose of building a new wing to St. Thomas's Hospital, another
tesselated pavement was disclosed, with passages and walls of other
chambers, all built on piles, showing that the houses beside the
causeway were thus supported in the marshy ground; Roman coins and
pottery were also found here. Another pavement was discovered on the
opposite side, south of Winchester Palace. On the river bank, at the
corner of Clink Street, an ancient jetty was found; and in the new
Southwark Street, deep down, groups of piles, pointed below, on which
houses had been built. In many of the later buildings Roman tiles have
been found. These remains are quite sufficient to prove that many
wealthy people lived in Roman Southwark, and that they occupied villas
built on piles beside the causeway.

Since, too, from the earliest times Southwark was famous for its inns,
and since the same conditions prevailed in the fourth as in the
fourteenth century, it is not unreasonable to suppose that the people
who drove those long lines of packhorses laden with goods from London
used Southwark as a place in which to deposit merchandise before taking
it across the bridge; they halted in Southwark; they lodged in one of
the inns: the place was most convenient for the City; storage was
cheaper than on the river wharves; for strangers, the place was
cheerful. In one respect, that of being a halting place and a lodging
for traders, Southwark was like Thorney in its palmy days--a place of
entertainment for man and beast. There was no forum here, as in Augusta;
no place of meeting for merchants, such as Thames Street in Plantagenet
times; there was no buying and selling, but there was continual coming
and going, which made the place lively and cheerful.

Such were the origins of the settlements of South London. An embankment,
a causeway, a fishery for the wants of Thorney first and of London next;
then villas, put up by the better sort, attracted here, one believes, by
the fresh air coming up the river with every tide, and by the quiet of
the place. The settlement began quite early in the Roman occupation:
this seems to be proved by the extent of the cemetery. The draining and
drying of the low lands went on meanwhile gradually, gardens and
orchards taking the place of the former marsh.

[Illustration: A RELIC OF THE STONE AGE]

The place has always, save at rare intervals, been entirely defenceless.
The _Pax Romana_ protected it. Remember that London itself was not
walled till the latter part of the fourth century. Why should it be? For
more than three hundred years, for ten generations, the City knew no
wars and feared no invader. The 'Count of the Saxon Shore' beat back,
and kept back, the pirates of Norway and Denmark; the Legions beat back
the marauders of Scotland and Ireland. Southwark, like the City its
neighbour, needed no wall and asked for no defence.

Twice, before the arrival of the East Saxons, we get a glimpse in
history of South London. The first is the rout of the usurper, the
Emperor Allectus, after the battle of Clapham Common.

Towards the close of the third century the succession of usurpers who
sprang up everywhere in the outlying portions of the Empire contained
six who came from Britain. What effect these movements had upon the
security of South London we have no means of learning. The history,
however, of Carausius and his successor Allectus affords material for
reflection. The former, who was of Belgian origin, rose to be the Count
of the Saxon Shore--in other words, Admiral of the Roman Fleet. In this
capacity he kept the seas free from pirates; enriched himself, became
famous for his courage and his generosity; usurped the title of Cæsar,
fought with and defeated the fleets of Maximian, and reigned in Britain
for seven years. His headquarters were Boulogne and Southampton; near
the latter place--at Bittern--is still seen the quay at which his ships
were moored. His rule, of which we know little, was certainly strong and
firm. Coins exist in great numbers of Carausius. They represent his
arrival: 'Expectate, veni'--'Come, thou long-expected!' Then his
triumph: 'Shout IO ten times.' He held gladiatorial sports at London; he
appointed a British senate. Then came the time when he must fight or
die. Like the King of the Grove, the Usurper held his throne on that
condition. Carausius, for some unknown reason, would not fight when the
chance was offered--therefore he died. Another King of the Grove,
Allectus by name, one of his officers, killed him and reigned in his
stead. Then he, too, had to fight for crown and life. He accepted the
challenge; he awaited with an army of Franks and Britons the arrival of
the Roman forces sent to quell him: he awaited them in London. When the
enemy drew near, he led out his men across the Bridge, and gave battle
to the Roman general, Asclepiodotus, on the wild heath south of London,
immediately beyond the rising ground--we now call the place Clapham
Common--and there he fell bravely fighting. He had enjoyed the purple
for three years. Perhaps, when he crossed the Bridge, conscious that he
was going to meet his fate--either to continue an Emperor for another
spell or to die--he reflected that for such a splendid three years' run
it was worth while to risk, and even to lose, his life at the end.

[Illustration: RELICS OF THE BRONZE AGE]

This is, I say, the first glimpse we get of South London in history. We
see the army marching across the Bridge and along the Causeway, shouting
and singing. We see them a few hours later, flying from the field,
rushing headlong over the Causeway, through the lines of villas to the
Bridge. The terrified people, those who lived in the villas, are
running over the Bridge after them. Once across the Bridge, the soldiers
found that there was left in the City neither order nor authority. They
therefore began to sack and pillage the rich houses, and to murder the
inhabitants. Remember that all over the Roman Empire none were permitted
to carry arms except the soldiers. Therefore there could be no defence.
The pillage went on until the victorious general had got his army--or
some of it--across the Bridge. How long it would take to bring up his
troops, whether the Bridge was held by the Franks, whether the defeated
army made any organised opposition, we know not. All we are told is that
the Roman soldiers fought hand to hand with those of the dead Usurper in
the streets of London, and that the latter were all massacred.

In the year 457 we get a second glimpse of Southwark in the flight of
another defeated host. The Britons had gone forth to fight the Saxon
invaders; they met the enemy--Hengist and Æsc his son--at
'Creeganford'--Crayford: they were defeated; four thousand of them were
killed; they fled; they never stopped until they reached London Bridge;
we can see them flying bareheaded, without weapons, along the Causeway
and through the narrow gates of the Bridge. Alas! the old villas along
the Causeway are deserted and in ruins; the place has been desolate for
many years--since the Saxons began to swarm about the country; the
former residents, if they are living still, are behind the walls; and
their sons are carrying on the war which is to last two hundred long
years, and to leave its memories of hatred behind it for fifteen hundred
years at least. The gardens are grown over, the orchards are neglected,
the inns are empty and ruinous.

Before long there falls the silence of death upon the walled City and
the Bridge and the settlements of the South. All alike are deserted: the
tide idly laps the piles of the rotting Bridge; it rolls along the empty
wharves, bearing no keel upon its bosom; there is no boat on the river,
there is no smoke from any house; there is no life, no sign of life, in
the place which had formerly been so crowded and so busy. The timbered
face of the embankment gave way and crumbled into the river; the
Causeway was eaten by the tides here and there; the low grounds once
more became a marsh, and the wild birds returned, undisturbed, to their
former haunts.

I have elsewhere ('London,' ch. i.) described the natural reasons which
led to this desertion of the City. It appears to us strange and almost
impossible that a great city should be so utterly deserted. Where,
however, are the cities of Tadmor, of Tyre, of Carthage? Where are the
great cities of Asia Minor? The conqueror not only took the City and
killed some of the people; he cut off the supplies, and therefore forced
them to go. This was most certainly the case with London. Roger of
Wendover, it is true, tells us that in the year 462 the Saxons took
possession of London, and then successively of York, Lincoln, and
Winchester, committing great devastation. 'They fell on the natives in
every quarter, like wolves on sheep forsaken by their shepherds; the
churches and all the ecclesiastical buildings they levelled with the
ground; the priests they slew at the altars; the holy scriptures they
burned with fire; the tombs of the holy martyrs they covered with mounds
of earth; the clergy who escaped the slaughter fled with the relics of
the saints to the caves and recesses of the earth, to the woods and
deserts and the crags of the mountains.'

I do not suppose that Roger of Wendover (he died in 1237) had access to
documents of the time. I would rather incline to the belief that, given
certain undoubted facts of battle, murder, and sacrilege, he presented
the world with a little embroidery of his own. An Assault on London is,
however, possible; in which case the desertion of the City would be only
hastened. With the ruin and desolation of Augusta came also the ruin of
the southern settlement.

This silence--this desolation--lasted some hundred years. Then the men
of Essex--the East Saxons--came down, a few at a time, and took
possession of the deserted City; the merchants began timidly to bring
their ships again with goods for trade; the East Saxons learned the
meaning of bargains; Augusta was dead, but London revived. The City
preserved its ancient name, but the southern settlement lost its name.
We know not what the Romans or the Britons called it, but the Saxons
called it Southwark. And they repaired the embankment and restored the
ancient causeways, and cleared away the ruins.

Another point of difference: in London the new streets, laid out without
rule or order, grew by degrees; they did not follow the old Roman
streets, which were quite obliterated and utterly forgotten--one cannot
imagine a more decisive proof of complete desertion and ruin. In
Southwark, on the other hand, the streets remained the same--they were
the two causeways and the embankment--because none others were then
possible. High Street, Borough, is still, as it always has been, the
ancient causeway connecting the new port of London with the Dover road.

Between the years 600 and 1000 Southwark suffered the vicissitudes which
must happen in a period of continual warfare to an undefended suburb. In
times of peace, when trade was possible, the place was what the
Icelander Snorro Thirlesen calls an 'emporium.' All the merchandise
carried to London from the south for export lay there waiting to be
carried across the quays: the merchants themselves found accommodation
there. But we cannot believe that when the Danish fleets brought their
fierce warriors to the very walls of London, Southwark--or any other
settlement--would continue to exist unfortified. That the place remained
without a wall, except for certain temporary walls put up by the Danes,
proves that it was regarded by itself as of small importance. This is
also proved by another fact--namely, that the place was always occupied
without defence. When, for instance, the Danes held London for twelve
years, leaving it a wreck and a ruin, can we believe that any people
remained in Southwark? In times of peace the fishermen lived here for
greater convenience of their work; London by this time was impossible
for them, because it was walled all along the river side. If peace was
prolonged, inns were set up for the merchants: people built houses along
the causeway. When war began again, and the enemy once more appeared,
Southwark was again abandoned. This is the history of South London for a
thousand years--alternate occupation and abandonment.

There exists a very singular heresy concerning Southwark. I would deal
with it tenderly, because one, if not more, of the heretics is a
personal friend of my own. It is that the site of the first or original
London was on the South; that Roman London stood on the site of
Southwark; and that, at some time or other, there was a transference of
sites, the whole of Roman London migrating to the other side. It is even
maintained that the name of Walworth proves that there was once a wall
round the city of the south. To me the name of Walworth indicates the
proximity of the high causeway running through its midst. The
consideration of the site--the marshy, wet, and unwholesome site--is
quite sufficient for me. At no time, not even in the time of the Lake
dwellers, have marshes been selected by choice for the building of
cities. Before the Embankment and the Causeway, the South of London was
impossible for the residence of man.

The transference of sites is a theory often called in to account for,
and make possible, other theories. Thus, the late James Fergusson
invented the transference of sites in order to bolster up certain
theories of his own on the Holy Places of Jerusalem. Here, however,
there is no theory: only a statement by a geographer evidently ignorant
of the boundaries of an obscure province of a district in a distant
country which he had never seen. London, Ptolemy said, was in Kent. All
the Roman remains, as we have seen, are found by the Causeway and the
Embankment--there never could have been any wall; and, indeed, the only
answer that is required to such a theory is to point to the natural
conditions of the site. Is it conceivable that people would settle
themselves in a marsh when they had firm and dry ground across the
river?



CHAPTER II

EARLY HISTORY


Southwark, then, had no reason for existence at all except for its
connection with London by bridge and ferry, and especially by bridge.
Before the Ferry and the Bridge there was no Southwark. The history of
Southwark is closely connected with the Bridge. It was on the south end
of the Bridge that all the fighting took place, London very generously
handing over her battles to her daughter of the south. I propose, in
this chapter, to discourse about the Bridge and one or two of its
earlier battles.

It is sometimes stated, confidently, that before the Bridge there was
the Ferry. Why? To carry people across the river and 'dump' them down in
the marsh? But people had no business in the marsh. First came the
Bridge and the Causeway to connect it with the Dover road. Then traffic
began to cross the Bridge and to meet the Dover road. But as yet there
was no ferry. Then came the Embankment, and the appearance of houses
along the Causeway and on the Embankment. As the trade of London
increased, so Southwark--I would we had the Roman name--increased in
proportion. Inns were created for the convenience of merchants, trade
was drawn from Thorney on the south by the Bridge, just as it was
diverted on the north by the military way connecting the great high road
with London. When the Causeway was always filled with caravans and long
trains of heavily laden packhorses; when the inns were crowded with
merchants and their slaves; when the Bridge was all day covered with
passengers and carriers; then the Ferry was demanded as a quicker and an
easier way of getting across. Two Ferries, there were; perhaps more. One
of these ran from Dowgate Dock to St. Mary Overies; the other crossed
the river lower down, nearer the Tower. So things remained for nearly
two thousand years--say, from A.D. 100 to A.D. 1750. If a man wanted to
get across the river, he did not make his way to London Bridge, and
painfully walk across amid the carriers and the caravans, the plunging
horses and the droves of oxen; he stepped into the boat and was ferried
across. We must not look on the Bridge as a means of getting across the
river for the people: it was not; it was the means of conveying
merchandise to and fro; it was a construction most important for
military purposes; it was a barrier to prevent a hostile fleet from
getting higher up the river; but, for the ordinary passenger, the boat
was the quicker and the easier means of conveyance.

When was the Bridge built? It is impossible to say. It was not there
A.D. 61, when Queen Boadicea's troops sacked the City and murdered the
people. It was there when Allectus led his troops out to fight the Roman
legions. It was there very early in the Roman occupation, as is proved
by the quantities of Roman coins of the four centuries of their tenure
found in the bed of the river on the site of the old Bridge. It is also
proved by the fact that Southwark was a settlement of the wealthier
class, who could not have lived in a place absolutely without supplies,
had there been no bridge. We may take any time we please for the
construction of the Bridge, so long as it is quite early--say, before
the second century.

The building of the Bridge can be arrived at with such great certainty
that I have no hesitation in presenting a drawing of it. As this Bridge
has never before been figured by the pencil of any artist, it will be
well for me to indicate the steps by which its reconstruction has been
made possible.

[Illustration: Merchants crossing Southwark Marsh]

The Britons themselves were quite unable to construct a bridge of any
kind, unless in the primitive methods observed at Post Bridge and Two
Bridges, on Dartmoor, by a slab of stone laid across two boulders. The
work, therefore, was certainly undertaken by Roman engineers. We have,
in the next place, to inquire what kind of bridge was built at that time
by the Romans. They built bridges of wood and of stone; many of these
stone bridges still remain, in other cases the pieces of hewn stone
still remain. The Bridge over the Thames, however, was of wood. This is
proved by the fact that, had it been of the solid Roman construction in
stone, the piers would be still remaining; also by the fact that London
had to be contented with a wooden bridge till the year 1176, when the
first bridge of stone was commenced. Considerations as to the
comparative insignificance of London in the first century, as to the
absence of stone in the neighbourhood, and as to the plentiful supply of
the best wood in the world from the forests north of the City, confirm
the theory that the Bridge was built of wood. We have only, therefore,
to learn how Roman engineers built bridges of wood elsewhere, in order
to know how they built a bridge of wood over the Thames. And this we
know without any doubt.

First: they drove piles into the bed of the river--not upright piles,
but inclined at an angle; they placed two piles side by side, and
opposite to these two more; they connected the two piles by ties and the
opposite piles with them by transverse girders. Across them they laid a
huge beam--a tree roughly hewn, and across these beams they laid the
floor of stout planks. The weight of beams and planks and the parapet
put up afterwards, with perhaps other planks for greater safety, pressed
down the piles and held them in place. To prevent the current from
carrying them away, each double pair of piles was protected by a
'starling,' formed by driving upright smaller piles in front at the
piers and enclosing a space, which was filled up with stones, so that
the force of the current was not felt by the great piles.

In this way the Roman Bridge was built. You will understand it better
from the drawing, which shows the Bridge taken from the Embankment near
the present site of St. Mary Overies Church. The gate is the river-gate
in the long straight wall which ran along the bank of the river. The
wall, it is obvious, must have been pierced at several points for the
convenience of trade and the quays: one supposes that these posterns
could be easily closed and defended. This river-wall, we shall presently
see, was standing in the time of Cnut. Some parts of it stood until the
building of the stone Bridge in the last quarter of the twelfth century.
The Roman Bridge was also the Saxon Bridge, the Danish Bridge, and the
Norman Bridge.

In course of time the river-wall was removed, bit by bit: its
foundations still lie under the pavement and the warehouses. The gate
was altered. I do not suppose there was much of the original structure
left when the East Saxons took possession of the City after a hundred
years of desertion and decay. But a gate of some kind there must always
have been. The breadth of the Bridge allowed, according to FitzStephen,
two carts to pass each other. That means about sixteen feet. Like the
very ancient stone bridges of Saintes and Avignon, the Bridge was from
sixteen to twenty feet broad. The river-gate stood at the south end of
Botolph Lane, some seventy feet east of the present Bridge: the second
Bridge--the first of stone--stood between the first and third, having
St. Magnus' Church on the north and St. Olave's on the south side;
together with its own chapel of St. Thomas on the Bridge itself, to
place it under the special protection of the saints most dear to London
hearts.

[Illustration: London Bridge, A.D. 1000]

The Bridge, and especially the south end of it, was a field of battle
whenever the way of war came near to London. The first glimpse, as we
have seen, which we catch of it is when Allectus and his forces crossed
the river by the Bridge to give battle to the legions of Asclepiodotus
on the Heath beyond the rising ground. A few hours later, on the same
day, their columns routed, their general dead, we see the defeated
troops once more flying across the narrow Bridge. There was no one to
lead them, or they could have held the Bridge against all comers; there
was no drawbridge to pull up, or they could have kept the Romans out by
that expedient. One wonders if all their officers were lying dead on
the field, with Allectus, for the troops, who were Franks for the most
part, seem to have left the Bridge without a guard, and the river-gate
wide open, while they melted into little companies, who ran about the
City pillaging the houses and murdering the unfortunate people.

By the Roman law the people were unarmed: no one could carry arms except
the soldiers. The law was a safeguard against rebellion; but it opened
the door to military revolts, and it destroyed the military spirit among
the civil population--always a most dangerous thing for a State. The
Roman legions poured into the City; they found Allectus' Franks at their
murderous work, and they cut them down. If it is true, as stated by the
historians, that they were all cut off to a man, London must have been a
horrible shambles.

The second glimpse of the Bridge is also that of a routed army flying
across the narrow way to seek shelter between the walls. It is in the
year 467. They are the Britons flying from their defeat in Kent. After
this there is silence--absolute silence, leaving not so much as a
whisper, a tradition, or a legend; the silence that can only mean
desertion--silence for a hundred and fifty years.

[Illustration: A Danish House]

When London reappears, it is in humble guise: the City has shrunk within
her ancient walls; and these have fallen into decay. Southwark no longer
exists. We learn that the Bridge has been repaired, because there is
easy communication with Canterbury. Yet in the Danish troubles there is
no fighting on or for the Bridge. Why? simply because there were no
defenders of the Bridge on the south. In 819 and in 857 the Danes
entered London and 'slaughtered numbers,' apparently without opposition.
In 872 they occupied London, apparently without opposition. We hear of
no siege, of no fighting on the Bridge; of no shelter behind the walls.
Yet there was a defence at York, at Reading, at Nottingham--behind the
walls. Why not in London? Because in London the walls, 5,500 yards in
length, had become too long to man, or to defend, or to repair. The
Danes ran into the City through the shattered gate; they leaped over the
broken wall. What happened to the people; what street fighting was
carried on, what slaughter, what plunder, what horrible treatment of
women--we may understand from the page of the historian Saxo relating
other sacks and sieges by the gentle Dane. As for the trade, the wealth,
the name and fame of London--they all perished together. It was a ruined
city, with a miserable population of craftsmen enslaved by the Dane,
that Alfred reconquered. The Bridge itself was broken down; the
settlements of the south were deserted: even the fishermen had left the
Thames above and below London, and sought for safety in the retired
creeks and safe backwaters along the coast of Essex. The London
fisherman sallied forth in his coracle from the marshes behind Canvey
Island, and from the slopes of Hadleigh. Alfred repaired the walls and
the Bridge and rebuilt the gates. Something like peace was restored to
the City and order to the country. Then trade, which welcomes the first
appearance of safety, began again. If the merchant feared the pirates of
the Foreland, he could march across the Bridge to Dover; or he could
land at Dover and march across Kent to the Bridge. Then the old
settlements on the south Causeway were rebuilt and new inns sprang up,
and Southwark began again.

A hundred years of rest from the 'army,' as the 'Chronicle' calls the
Danes, gave Southwark time to grow. It is spoken of by the Danish
historian as an 'emporium.' I understand from the use of this word that
the trade of London was carried on principally by way of Dover, because
the seas were swarming with pirates. Southwark was a halting-place and a
resting-place, such as Thorney had been of old.

The prosperity of the settlement, however, received another blow when
the Danes once more, mindful of their former victories, sailed up the
river with hope of again taking London. Southwark was defenceless. There
was never any wall about the place: its population was migratory. When
the enemy appeared the people of Southwark retreated across the Bridge.
The Danes landed, pillaged, and burned; they then went away. Some of the
people returned, especially the fishermen, whose huts were easily
repaired. When, however, the attacks became more frequent, and the Danes
appeared every year, Southwark was deserted. But in London itself they
were grievously disappointed; for their grandfathers had told them that
it was a feeble and a helpless place, perfectly incapable of resistance,
with walls through whose wide gaps a whole army could march; and they
fondly expected to find it in the same condition. But it had been
growing, unseen by them, in population and resource and power.

In the year 992 the City showed its strength in a manner which was
extremely startling to the Danes; for it equipped a great fleet, manned
the ships with stout-hearted citizens, sent the ships down the river,
met the Danish fleet, engaged them, and routed them with great
slaughter. Two years later they returned, eager for revenge--the revenge
which they vainly sought in six successive sieges. The army on this
occasion consisted of Norsemen and Danes in alliance, under the two
kings, Olaf of Norway and Swegen of Denmark. They were firmly resolved
to take the City: with their warriors they would attack it by land, with
their ships by water. They had no ladders; they had no knowledge of
mining; they had no battering-rams; they could, and doubtless did,
endeavour to break down the gates with trunks of trees; but the gates
were well manned and well defended. On the river-side one half of the
town kept open their communications; the other half were exposed to the
arrows of the sailors, but had arrows of their own. How long the siege
lasted I know not; the 'Chronicle,' all too brief, tells us only that
the enemy discovered that they could not prevail, and that they
withdrew.

[Illustration: SHIPS, BAYEUX TAPESTRY]

The appearance of a Danish or Norwegian fleet, whose ships were models
to King Alfred when he founded the English Navy, must not be gathered
from the drawings of the Bayeux tapestry, where the ships are
conventional in treatment. We have, fortunately, one actual surviving
specimen of a ship of King Olaf's time. It is the famous ship of
Gokstad, in Norway. Look at the two pictures on this and following page.
One is taken from the tapestry, the other is the Gokstad vessel. The
former carries about a dozen men, rather high out of the water, with
straight sides, and would certainly capsize. The latter is a long,
light, swift vessel, built for speed, and able to sail over quite
shallow water; she is constructed on lines which, for beauty or for
usefulness, cannot be surpassed even at the present day: she rides
lightly, drawing very little water. She is clinker built; the planks
overlying each other are fastened with iron bolts, riveted and clinched
on the inside. She is built of oak; her length from stem to stern, over
all, is 78 feet; her keel is 66 feet; her breadth is 16½ feet; her depth
is no more than 4 feet; the third plank from the top is twice as thick
as the others; she is pierced by portholes for as many oars. The ship is
pointed at both ends; she is steered by a rudder attached to the side of
the stern; on each side hang 16 shields; she carried 64 rowers, and
probably as many men besides. The decorations lavished on the ship were
profuse. The figure-head was gilt, the stern was gilt, the shields were
gilt; the ships were painted in long lines of bright colour--you can
see that in the ships of the Bayeux tapestry. The whole of the
vessel--bows, figure-head, gunwale, stern-post--were covered with
carvings; the sails were decorated with embroideries; the mast was gilt.
Verily the 'fleet shone as if it were on fire.'

[Illustration: A Viking Ship]

Such were the ships which came up, nearly a hundred in company, with
Olaf and Swegen. Low in the water they came, the oars sweeping in a
long, measured swish of the water: swiftly flying up the broad river,
the sunshine lighting up the colours and the gilding of the ships, and
the bright arms of the company on board. It was a company of tall and
strong men; young, every one, with long fair hair and blue eyes. From
the grey walls of the town, from the Bridge on the river, the citizens
saw the splendid array rushing up to destroy them if they could. At the
Bridge, the foremost stop: they go no farther; those behind cry
'Forward!' and those in front cry 'Back!' The Bridge would suffer none
to pass; and so, jammed together, perhaps lashed together, as when Olaf
was to meet his death five years later in his last splendid sea-fight,
they essayed to take the city by assault. They shot arrows with red-hot
heads over the walls, to strike and set light to the thatch; they shot
arrows at the citizens on the walls; they tried to scale the piles of
the Bridge. If they could get within the City, these splendid savages,
there would be slaughter and pillage, ravishing of women, firing of the
thatch, the roar of flames and the clashing of weapons, and next day
silence, long teams of slaves and of treasure lifted into the ships,
bows turned outward; and the fleet would leave behind it a London once
more desolate and naked and forlorn, as when the East Saxon entered
towards the end of the sixth century. It was a day of fate, and big with
destiny. Had the Danes succeeded, we know not what might have been the
history of London and of England.

When they were beaten off, the people of Southwark went back to their
homes, and the daily business of life was carried on as usual. We may
observe that if there had been a permanent settlement here--a town of
any importance--they would have built a wall to protect it. But there
was never any wall; the place could be approached by the Causeway or by
the river; no one ever at any time thought of protecting Southwark.

But now a worse time fell upon the place, as well as upon London. The
whole country, almost unresisting, was ravaged by the Danes: Swegen came
over and proved the English weakness, and saw that time would help him,
if he waited. Time did help him, and famine helped him as well.

In 1009 occurred the second siege of London, this time by Thurkitel, who
afterwards entered into the service of Ethelred. He ravaged Kent and
Essex, took up his winter quarters on the Thames, apparently at
Greenwich, and laid siege to the City--but in vain. It is of course
obvious that without ladders, mines, battering-rams, or wooden towers,
the City could never be taken. The people beat him off at every assault
with great loss. It seems as if the whole valour in England was at the
moment concentrated in London.

The third siege of London was in 1013, when Swegen returned. This time,
mindful of his former failure, and of Thurkitel's failure, he left his
ships at Southampton; he marched upon London by way of Winchester, which
he took on the way; but although he came up from the south, he did not
attack from the south, nor did he encamp on the south. The reason is
obvious: the Causeway was narrow; to fight on the Bridge was to engage a
mere handful of men; there was no place except that and the Causeway.
Swegen, therefore, passed over the ford of Westminster, and attacked the
walls on the north side. Within the City was Thurkitel, now in the
English service; by his help or counsel, the Londoners drove Swegen off
the field. He withdrew. But all England rapidly submitted to his arms;
therefore London, too, seeing that it was useless to hold out alone,
sent hostages and submitted. It is reported that they were terrified at
the threats of Swegen: he would cut off their hands and their feet; he
would tear out their eyes; he would burn and destroy--and so forth. But
these promises were the common garnish of besiegers; they no more
frightened the defenders of London at this time than they frightened the
defenders of any other city.

The end of Swegen, as everybody knows, was that St. Edmund of Bury
killed him for doubting his saintliness.

[Illustration: SKETCH MAP]

We now come to the three successive sieges by King Cnut. The expedition
with which he proposed to reduce London was far finer and more powerful
than that of Olaf and Swegen. The poetic description of it says that the
ships were counted by hundreds; that they were manned by an army among
whom there was never a slave, or a freeman son of a slave, or one
unworthy man, or an old man. Freeman asks what nobility meant if all
were nobles? A strange question for one so learned! The nobles of
Denmark were simply the conquering race; nobility consisted in free
birth, and in descent from the conquering race, not the conquered: it
was not necessarily a small caste; it might possibly include the larger
part of the people.

Cnut anchored off Greenwich and prepared for his siege. First of all, he
resolved that the Bridge should no longer bar the way. He therefore cut
a trench round the south of the Bridge, by means of which he drew some
of his ships to the other side of it. He then cut another trench round
the whole of the wall. In this way he hoped to shut in the City and cut
off all supplies: if he could not take the place by storm, he would
starve it out. There are no details of the siege, but as Cnut speedily
abandoned the hope of success and marched off to look after Edmund, his
investment of the City was certainly not a success.

He met Edmund and fought two battles with him; with what result history
has made us acquainted. He then returned and resumed the siege of
London. Edmund fought him again, and made him once more raise the siege.
When Edmund went into Wessex to gather new forces, Cnut began a third
siege, in which, also, 'by God's help,' he made no progress.

In twenty years, therefore, the City of London was besieged six times,
and not once taken.

Antiquaries have written a good deal on the colossal nature of the canal
constructed by Cnut; they have looked for traces of it in the south of
London before it was covered over by houses; they have gone as far
afield as Deptford in search of these traces; they have even found them;
and to the present day every writer who has mentioned the canal speaks
of it and thinks of it with the respect due to a colossal work. Freeman
himself called it a 'deep ditch.' How deep it was, how long it was, how
broad it was, I am going to explain.

It was in the year 1756 that the painstaking historian, William
Maitland, F.R.S., announced that he had been so fortunate as to light
upon the course of the long-lost trench of King Cnut.

He had found certain evidence, he said, of its course, in a direction
nearly east and west from the then 'New Dock' of Rotherhithe to the
river at the end of Chelsea Reach, through Vauxhall Gardens. The proofs
were, first, certain depressions in the ground; next, the discovery of
oaken planks and piles driven into the ground for what he thought was
the northern fence of the canal, near the Old Kent Road; and next a
report that, in 1694, when the wet dock of Rotherhithe was constructed,
a quantity of hazel, willow, and other branches were found pointing
northward, with stakes to keep them in position, forming a kind of water
fence, such as, it is said, is still in use in Denmark. It will be seen
that Mr. Maitland's theory has but a small basis of evidence, yet it
seems to have been generally accepted--partly, I suppose, because it was
so colossal.

The canal thus cut would actually be a little over four miles and a half
in length. Another writer, seeing the difficulties of so great a work,
suggests another course. He would start from the site of the New Dock,
Rotherhithe, and end on the other side of London Bridge, a course of
only three and three-quarter miles!

Let us ask ourselves why it should be a 'deep' ditch; why it should be a
long ditch; why it should be a broad ditch.

Wherever Cnut began his trench, whether at Rotherhithe or nearer the
Bridge, he would have the same preliminary difficulties to encounter:
that is to say, he would have to cut through the Embankment of the river
at either end, and he would have to cut through the Causeway in the
middle. In these cuttings he would perhaps have to take down two or
three houses, huts, or cabins, all deserted, because the people had all
run across the Bridge for safety at the first sight of the Danes, if
there were any people at the time living in Southwark--which I doubt.

We may, further, take it for granted that Cnut had officers of sense and
experience on whom he could depend for carrying out his canal in a
workmanlike manner. A people who could build such perfect ships would
certainly not waste time and labour in constructing a trench which would
be any longer or deeper or wider than was absolutely necessary.

[Illustration]

Now the shortest canal possible would be that in which he was just able
to drag his vessels round without destroying the banks. In other words,
if a circular canal began at C B, and if we drew an imaginary circle
round the middle of the canal, what was required was that the chord D F,
forming a tangent to the middle circle, should be at least as long as
the longest vessel. Now (see diagram)--

    AD² - AE² = DE².

If _r_ is the radius, AD and 2_a_ the breadth BC, and 2_b_ the length of
the chord DF--

    _r_² - (_r_ - _a_)² = _b_² ∴ _r_ = (_a_² + _b_²)/2_a_.

This represents the length of the radius in terms of the length and
breadth of the largest vessel in the fleet, and is therefore the
smallest radius possible for getting the ships through. Now, the ship of
Gokstad, already described, was undoubtedly one of the finest of the
vessels used by Danes and Normans. The poets certainly speak of larger
ships, but as a marvel. Nothing is said about Cnut bringing over ships
of very great size. Now, that vessel was 66 feet in length, considering
the keel, which is all we need consider; 16½ feet in breadth, and 4 feet
in depth. She drew very little water; therefore a breadth of canal less
than the breadth of the vessel was enough. Let us make the chord 70 feet
in length, so that _b_ = 35. Let us make the breadth of the canal 12
feet. Therefore 2_a_ = 12 or _a_ = 6 and _r_ = 105 feet very nearly.
Measuring, therefore, 105 feet on either side of London Bridge, we
arrive at a possible commencement of Cnut's work. That is to say, if he
made a semicircular canal, in that case the length of the canal would be
320 yards, which is certainly an improvement on four miles and a half,
or even three miles and three-quarters.

[Illustration: THE GOKSTAD SHIP]

There is, however, more to consider. Why should Cnut make a semicircle
when an arc would serve his turn? All he had to do was to draw an arc of
a circle with the radius just found, to clear any obstacles in the way
of approach to the Bridge, and use that arc for his canal. This is most
certainly what he did: I am quite certain he adopted this method,
because it was the only sensible thing to do. He would thus get off with
a canal about fifty yards long, of which the only difficulty would be
the cutting through the Embankment and the Causeway.

What would be the depth of the canal? Look at this section of the
Gokstad ship. With her breadth of sixteen feet, she had only four feet
in depth; without her company and crew, and their arms and provisions,
she would thus draw no more than a few inches--certainly not more than
eight inches or so. Freeman's deep canal therefore comes to eight inches
at the most. But there is still another consideration which lessened the
labour materially. The ground behind the Embankment was a little lower
than the river at high tide: the Danes, therefore, had only to construct
a low wooden containing-wall of timber on each side in order to make
their canal without excavating an inch. When that was done, the cutting
of the Embankment let in the tide and did the rest. In this simple
manner do we reduce Cnut's colossal work of a deep canal, four miles and
a half long, into a piece of construction and demolition which would
take a large body of men no more than a few hours.

If, however, there actually was any digging to be done, we must remember
that the ground was a level; that there were no stones or rocks in the
way, and that it consisted of a soft black _humus_, the result of ages
of successive growths of sedge and coarse grass, formerly washed twice a
day by the brackish waters of a tidal river. The object of the canal
once attained, the ships drawn back again, Cnut, of course, left the
place to be repaired by any who pleased. The broken Embankment let in
the tide; the broken Causeway cut off any approach to the river; but
Southwark was deserted. When things settled down a little, workmen were
sent across from London, and the broken places were repaired. Then all
traces of the canal disappeared.

Thirty-six years later, in 1052, Earl Godwine arrived at Southwark with
a fleet and an army. He had no difficulty in passing the Bridge; he
waited till flood-tide, and then sailed through 'on the south side.' It
is quite impossible to explain this statement, or to make it agree with
the difficulty felt by Cnut. The Bridge may have sustained some damage;
there may have been a drawbridge; or Godwine's ships may have been
smaller: one knows nothing. I merely state the fact as the Chronicler
gives it.

One more glimpse of the Bridge from Southwark before we pass on to more
modern times.

[Illustration: Ships of William the Conqueror]

After Hastings, William marched northwards. Arrived near London, he
advanced to Southwark, where he found the Bridge closed to him--closed,
I believe, by knocking away some of the upper beams. This, of course, he
expected; his friends within the City, of whom he had many, kept him
acquainted with the changing currents of popular opinion. It is commonly
stated that the citizens were terrified by the sight of Southwark in
flames at his command. Southwark in flames! A few fishermen's huts were
all that remained of the suburb, whose population since the time of the
_Pax Romana_ had been so precarious and so changeful. Five hundred years
of battle, war between kings and tribes, invasion and ravage by Dane and
Norseman, had not left of Southwark, once so beautiful a suburb,
anything more than these poor huts and ruins of huts. William's soldiers
burned them, because wherever a soldier of that period appeared, the
thatch always caught fire spontaneously. William saw the flames, and
regarded them not, any more than he regarded the flames that followed in
his track all the way from Senlac. He gazed across the river, and
remembered that twice had London defied all the strength of Swegen; that
three times had London beaten off the great King Cnut when all England
had surrendered; that in six sieges London had always been victorious;
he knew, because his friends in the City would allow no mistake on that
point, that the spirit of the citizens was as high now as it had been
then; that they still remembered with pride the defeat of Cnut; and that
not a few were anxious to treat William the Norman as they had treated
Cnut the Dane. One knows not, exactly, what things went on within the
walls; what exhortations, what wild talk, what faction fight; how the
citizens rolled, and surged, a mass of wild faces, about their Folk-mote
by St. Paul's. But of one thing we may be quite certain: that William
did not expect the citizens to be afraid of him; and that, in fact, they
were not afraid of him, whether he set fire to the huts of Southwark or
not; they were not afraid of William, whatever the historians say. As
for the Bridge, the old Roman Bridge, by this time there could hardly
have been a single pile remaining of the original structure; yet it was
constantly repaired.

We may restore to Norman London, therefore, not only the grey wall
rising out of the level ground, without any ditch or moat outside, but
also the Bridge of wooden piles with the transverse girders and beams
for additional security, so that the old Bridge contained a whole forest
of timbers like those which support the roof of an ancient hall. It was
continually receiving damage. In the year 1091, a mighty whirlwind blew
down a good part of London, houses and churches and all. It has been
assumed that the Bridge was also destroyed; but the 'Chronicle' is
silent on the subject. In 1092 there was a great fire in London; it is
again assumed that the Bridge was destroyed, but again the 'Chronicle'
is silent. In 1097, however, it is plainly stated that the Bridge had
been almost washed away, and that it was repaired.

[Illustration: BAYEUX TAPESTRY]

In 1136 the most destructive fire ever experienced by London, save that
of 1666, spread through the whole City, from London Bridge, which it
greatly damaged, all the way to St. Clement Danes on the west, and
Aldgate on the east. One wonders what ancient monuments--walls of Roman
churches, villas, and baths, still surviving halls and chambers of the
Forum--were destroyed in this fire; Saxon houses of the better sort,
with their great halls and courtyards; small Saxon churches of wood or
stone, with low towers and little windows. Possibly there was no great
loss: it was already seven hundred years since Augusta was deserted.
Roman remains must have been scanty; the City was chiefly built of wood,
with thatched roofs; the splendour of the latter centuries had not yet
commenced. The Bridge, however, was either wholly or in part destroyed.
It was repaired, because, fifty years later, FitzStephen, in his
description of the City, speaks of the citizens watching the water
sports from the Bridge. Indeed, the Bridge was now absolutely necessary
to the City. A hundred years of order in the City--with the seas cleared
of pirates, the Danes kept down, and merchants filling the river with
ships, and the quays with merchandise--crowded the Bridge all day long
with trains of packhorses, and the less frequent rude carts with broad
grunting wheels which would have quite taken the place of the horse but
for the bad roads. Southwark, during this period of rest, had become
once more a town, or at least a village. Still, along the Embankment
stood the thatched huts of the fisherfolk; but they were pushed farther
east and west every year, until Lambeth and Rotherhithe were their
quarters when the fish deserted the river and their occupation was gone.
The Roman inns were gone, but new ones were springing up in their
places. Bishops and abbots were looking on Southwark as a place of fine
air, open to every breeze and free from the noise and crowd of London;
ecclesiastical foundations were already springing into existence. In a
word, the settlements of the south, after four hundred years of ruin and
desertion, were once more beginning a new existence. The day when
William rode up to the south end of the Bridge, and looked across upon a
City that had not yet made up its mind about his reception, marked a new
birth for the long-suffering suburb of the Embankment and the Causeway.
A hundred years later still--in 1176--they began to build their Bridge
of Stone.



CHAPTER III

A FORGOTTEN MONASTERY


The earliest maps of South London are those of the sixteenth century.
But it is perfectly easy from them and from the historical facts to draw
a map of all that country lying between Deptford and Battersea which we
have agreed to call South London. Thus, to put the map into words, there
were buildings all along both sides of the Causeway as far as St.
George's Church; in the middle of the Causeway stood St. Margaret's
Church, facing St. Margaret's Hill; on the right-hand side, just under
the Bridge, was St. Olave's Church. The Bridge was thus protected on the
north by St. Magnus, on the south by St. Olave--two Danish saints--and
in the middle by the patron saint of its chapel, St. Thomas à Becket.
There were houses along the Embankment on either side, but more on the
west of the Causeway than on the east. A few houses were built already
on the low-lying ground near the Causeway; for instance, on the south
and south-west of St. Mary Overies. On the east of St. Olave's a single
straight lane with no houses ran across country to Bermondsey Abbey; on
the west of the Causeway another lane led to Kennington Palace, from
which another lane led to the Causeway from Lambeth and Westminster to
the Dover Road. That was the whole extent of Southwark.

The place was essentially a suburb. There were no trades or industries
in it, except that of fishing; the fishermen had their cottages dotted
about all along the Embankment; a few watermen lived here, but that was
perhaps later: other working men there were none, save the cooks and
varlets of the great houses, and the 'service' of the inns. Because the
air was fresh and pure, blown up daily with the tides; and because the
place was easy of access, by river, to Westminster and the Court, many
great men, ecclesiastics and nobles, had their town houses here: the
Bishop of Winchester, the Bishop of Rochester, the Prior of Lewes, the
Abbot of Hyde, the Abbot of Battle, the Earls of Surrey, Sir John
Fastolfe, also the Brandons. Also, because it was easy of access by
bridge and river to the City, the merchants brought their goods and
warehoused them here in the inns at which they stayed, while they went
across the river and transacted their business. It was a suburb which,
in modern times, would be described as needing no poor rate. Later on
there grew up, as we shall see, a class of the unclassed--a population
of rogues and vagabonds, thieves, and sanctuary birds.

The government of the place as a whole was difficult, or rather
impossible. There were several 'Liberties;' the Liberty of Bermondsey;
that of the Bishop of Winchester; that of the King; that of the Mayor.
The last contained the part of the Borough lying between St. Saviour's
Dock on the west and Hay's Dock on the east, with a southern limit just
including St. Margaret's Church. This very small district was called the
Gildable Manor: it was conceded by the King to the City of London in the
thirteenth century in order to prevent the place from becoming the home
and refuge of criminals from the City. As the other liberties remained
outside the jurisdiction of the City, the alleviation gained was not
very great: criminals still dropped across the river, finding shelter on
the Lambeth Marsh or the marsh between Bermondsey and Rotherhithe. It
was from this unavoidable hospitality to persons escaping from justice
that Southwark received a character which has stuck to it till the
present day. In the centuries which include the twelfth to the
fifteenth, however, South London, so far as it was populated at all,
was the residence of great lords and the place of sojourn for merchants
from the country. As yet the reputation of Southwark was spotless and
its dignity enviable. London itself had no such collection of palaces
gathered together so closely. As for the land, that lay low, but was
protected by the Embankment from the river. Many rivulets flowed slowly
across the misty meadows; many ponds lay about the flats; there was an
abundant growth of trees everywhere, so that parts of the land were dark
at midday by reason of the trees growing so close together. The rivulets
were pretty little streams; willows grew over them; alders grew beside
them; they were coloured brown by the peaty soil; on their banks grew
wild flowers--the marsh mallow, the anemone, the hedgehog grass, the
frogbit, the crowfoot, and the bitter-wort; orchards flourished in the
fat and fertile soil. The people had almost forgotten the special need
of their Embankment. Yet when, in the year 1242, the Embankment at
Lambeth was broken down, the river rushed in and covered six square
miles of country, including all that part which is now called Battersea.

Remember, however, that as yet there was not a single house upon the
whole of Lambeth Marsh, nor upon the whole of Bermondsey Marsh. The
houses began near what is now the south end of Blackfriars Bridge; they
faced the river, having gardens behind them. On the other side of the
Bridge the houses extended farther, going on nearly opposite to Wapping.

The place was well provided with prisons; every Liberty had its own
prison. Thus there were the Clink of the Winchester Liberty, that of the
Bermondsey Liberty, the 'White Lion' of Surrey, the King's Bench, and
the Marshalsea, all in the narrow limits we have laid down. And there
were also, for the delectation of the righteous and the terror of
evil-doers, the visible instruments for correction. In every parish
there was the whipping post--one in St. Mary Overy's churchyard, put up
after the time of the monks; one at St. Thomas's Hospital; there was the
pillory for neck and hands, generally with somebody on it, but the
pillory was movable; there was the cage--one stood at the south end of
the Bridge--women had to stand in the cage; there were stocks for feet
wandering and trespassing; there were pounds for stray animals.

Markets were held in the churchyard of St. Margaret's; in the precinct
of Bermondsey Abbey; and along the street called 'Long Southwark'--now
High Street--from the Bridge to St. Margaret's Hill. But we must not
suppose that the markets of Southwark presented the same crowded
appearance, and were carried on with the same noise and bustle, as those
of Chepe and Newgate on the other side.

Everything, in those days, was quiet and dignified in Southwark. The
Princes of the Church arrived and departed, each with his retinue of
chaplains and secretaries, gentlemen and livery. Kings and ambassadors
rode up from Dover through Long Southwark and across the Bridge. The
mayor and aldermen in new cloaks of red murrey and gold chains sallied
forth to meet the King returning from abroad. Cavalcades of pilgrims for
Canterbury, Compostella, Seville, Rome, and Jerusalem rode out of
Southwark when the spring returned; and every day there arrived and
departed long lines of packhorses laden with the produce of the country
and with things imported for sale in London City. Pilgrims, merchants,
travellers, all put up at the Southwark inns. The place was nothing but
a collection of inns; the ecclesiastics stayed here for a few weeks and
then went away; the great lords came here when they had business at
Court and then went away again; the merchants came and went: by itself
the place had, as yet, no independent life or character of its own at
all.

There were two Monastic Houses. Both were stately; both are full of
history. Let us consider the House of Bermondsey, because it is less
generally known than the other of St. Mary Overy or Overies.

[Illustration: The Monastery of Bermondsey]

The Abbey of St. Saviour, Bermondsey, was the Westminster of South
London. Like Westminster, Bermondsey stood upon a low islet in the midst
of a marsh; at the distance of half a mile on the north ran the river;
half a mile on the west was the Causeway; half a mile on the south was
the Dover road. It is significant of the seclusion in which the House
lay that the only road which connected it with the world was that lane
called Bermondsey or Barnsie or Barnabie Lane, which ran from the Abbey
to St. Olave's and so to London Bridge. It was not, like Westminster, a
place of traffic and resort. It lay alone and secluded, separated from
the noise and racket of life. When the marsh had been gradually drained
and the Embankment continued through Rotherhithe to Deptford and beyond
the Greenwich levels, the Abbey lands round the islet became extremely
fertile and wooded and covered with sheep and cattle.

The House was founded in the year 1182 by one Ailwin Childe, a merchant
of the City, an Alderman also and one of the ruling families of London.
He was the son of an elder Ailwin, who was a member of that 'Knighten
Guild' which, with all its members and all its property--the land which
now forms the Ward of Portsoken--went over to the Priory of the Holy
Trinity. Religion of a practical and real kind was therefore hereditary
in the family. The elder Ailwin became a monk, the younger founded a
monastery; his son, the third of the family of whom we know anything,
became the first Mayor of London, and remained Mayor for twenty-four
years--the rest of his life.

[Illustration: BERMONDSEY ABBEY]

The whole of history from the ninth to the fifteenth century is full of
a pathetic longing after a religious Order, if that could be found, of
true and proved sanctity. One Order after the other arises; one after
the other challenges respect for reputed holiness of a new and hitherto
unknown kind: in fact, it commands the respect of the people who always
admire voluntary privation of what they value so much--food and drink;
it receives endowments, gifts, foundations of all kinds; it then departs
from the ancient rule, and quickly loses its hold upon the people. This
is the simple history of Benedictine, Franciscan, Cistercian, and all
the rest. However, at the close of the eleventh century the Cluniac was
in the highest repute for a rigid Rule, strictly kept: and for an
austerity strictly enforced. It was a Cluniac House which Ailwin Childe
set up in Bermondsey, and which Earl de Warren, who also founded the
Cluniac House of Lewes, enriched.

[Illustration: GATEWAY OF BERMONDSEY ABBEY]

This Priory, with thirty-seven other Houses, was an Alien owing
obedience to the Abbot of Cluny. A large part of its revenues,
therefore, was sent out of the country, and it received its Priors from
abroad. In the reign of Henry the Fifth the growing dissatisfaction on
account of the Alien Priories came to a head, and they were all
suppressed, or at least cut off from obedience to the Mother Convent.
The Priory of Bermondsey was therefore raised to the dignity of an
Abbey, with an English Abbot, and so continued until the Dissolution.

The Abbey was one of the many places of pilgrimage dotted about round
London--places accessible in a single day's journey. Thus there were the
three shrines of Willesden, Muswell Hill, and Gospel Oak, each
possessing an image of the Virgin to which miraculous powers were
attributed. At Blackheath there was another holy shrine; at Bermondsey
there was a Holy Rood which was daily visited in the summer by pious
pilgrims from London. The Rood had been fished up from the Thames, and
no one knew its history; but the merit of a pilgrimage to the Abbey and
of prayers said before the shrine was considered very precious. It was,
moreover, an easy pilgrimage. A boat taken below the Bridge would take
the pilgrim over to the opposite shore in a few minutes, where a cross
standing before a lane leading out of 'Short Southwark' showed him the
way. It was but half a mile to the Abbey of St. Saviour and the Holy
Rood.

'Go,' writes John Paston in 1465 to his mother, 'visit the Rood of
North door and St. Saviour in Bermondsey among while ye abide in London;
and let my sister Margery go with you to pray to them that she may have
a good husband or she come home again.'

One can hardly expect that the Abbot of Cluny should resign this
valuable possession without a remonstrance. He made, in fact, the
strongest possible remonstrance. In 1457 he sent over three monks with
orders to lay the case before the King, and to invite his attention
especially to the papers showing the clear and indisputable right of the
Mother Convent to the House of Bermondsey. These monks, in fact, did
present their case to the King, with the documents. But no one heeded
them; they could hardly get a hearing; no one replied to their
arguments. This neglect was perhaps the cause why one of them died while
in this country. The other two went home again, having accomplished
nothing. One of them on the eve of their departure wrote a piteous
letter to the Abbot of St. Albans:--

    For the rest, be it known to you, my Lord, that after having spent
    four months and a half on our journey, and following our Right with
    the most serene Lord the King and his Privy Council, we have
    obtained nothing: nay, we are sent back very disconsolate, deprived
    of our Manors, our Pensions alienated, and, what is still worse, we
    are denied the obedience of all our Monasteries which are 38 in
    number: nor did our Legal Deeds, nor the Testimonies of your
    Chronicles avail us anything, and at length, after all our pleading
    and expenses, we return home moneyless, for in truth, after paying
    for what we have eaten and drunk, we have but five crowns left, to
    go back about 260 leagues. But what then? We will sell what we have:
    we will go on: and God will provide. Nothing else occurs to write to
    your Paternity: but that as we entered England with joy, so we
    depart thence with sorrow: having buried one of our Companions--viz.
    the Archdeacon, the youngest of our company. May he rest in Peace!
    Amen.

There is not at the present moment a single stone of this stately House
visible, though there were many remains above ground one hundred years
ago. It is a pity, because there is the association of two Queens, not
to speak of many great Lords of state Functions, and of Parliaments,
connected with this House secluded in the Marsh.

The first of the two Queens is Katharine of Valois, widow of Henry the
Fifth. The story is the most romantic, perhaps, of all the stories
connected with our line of sovereigns and Queens and Royal Princes. It
is not a new story, and yet it is not so well known that any apology is
needed for telling it once more.

Henry died August 31, 1422. His widow, Katharine, began to live in the
seclusion fitted for her sorrow and her widowhood. Among her household,
the office of Clerk to the Wardrobe was filled by a young and handsome
Welshman named Owen Tudor, or Theodore. He was the son of a plain Welsh
gentleman of slender means, if any, who was in the service of the Bishop
of Chester. He distinguished himself at Agincourt in the following of
some nobleman unknown. It has been said, with singular ignorance of the
time, that he was a private soldier--that is, a man with a pike or a
bow, dressed in a leather jerkin which the men threw off when the battle
began. The opportunities for a common soldier to distinguish himself in
such an action were few, nor do we ever hear of a king raising a man
from the ranks, as Henry raised Owen Tudor, to the post of Esquire to
the Body. It is possible, but most improbable, that Owen Tudor was
regarded as a common soldier: since his father was a gentleman in the
service of the Bishop of Chester, he himself would go to war as a
gentleman in the service and wearing the livery of some noble lord.

In this way, however, his promotion began. When the King married, Owen
Tudor was attached to the household of the Queen. After the death of
Henry he accompanied the Queen and remained in her service as Clerk to
the Wardrobe. In this office he had to buy whatever was wanted by the
Queen--her silk, her velvet, her cloth of gold. He was therefore brought
into much closer and more direct relation with the Queen than other
officers of the household. He pleased her by his appearance, his
accomplishments, and his manners. Tradition says that he danced very
well. There is no reason to inquire by what attractions or
accomplishments he pleased. The fact remains that he did please the
Queen, and that so much that she consented to a secret marriage with
him. It was a dangerous step for this Welsh adventurer to take: it was a
step which would cover the Queen with dishonour should it become known.
That the widow of the great and glorious Henry, chief captain of the
age, should be able to forget her husband at all; should be capable of
union with any lower man; should ally her royal line with that of a man
who could only call himself gentleman after the fashion of Wales: would
certainly be considered to bring dishonour on the King, the royal
family, and the country at large.

The marriage was not found out for some years. The Queen must have been
most faithfully and loyally served, because children cannot be born
without observation. Owen Tudor must have conducted matters with a
discretion beyond all praise. No doubt the ordinary members of the
household knew nothing and suspected nothing, because several years
passed before any suspicion was awakened. Three sons and one daughter,
in all, were born. The eldest, Edmund of Hadham, was so called because
he was born there; the second, Jasper, was of Hatfield; the third, Owen,
of Westminster; the youngest, Margaret, died in infancy.

Suspicions were aroused about the time of the birth of Owen, which took
place apparently before it was expected and without all the precautions
necessary, in the King's House at Westminster. The infant was taken as
soon as born to the monastery of St. Peter's, secretly. It is not likely
that the Abbot received the child without full knowledge of his
parents. He did take the child, however; and here the little Owen
remained, growing up in a monastery, and taking vows in due time. Here
he lived and here he died, a Benedictine of Westminster.

It would seem as if Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, heard some whisper or
rumour concerning this birth, or was told something about the true
nature of the Queen's illness, for he issued a very singular
proclamation, warning the world, generally, against marrying Queen
dowagers, as if these ladies grew on every hedge. When, however, a year
or so afterwards, the fourth child, Margaret, was born, Humphrey learned
the whole truth: the degradation, as he thought it, of the Queen, who
had stooped to such an alliance, and the humble rank and the audacity of
the Welshman. He took steps promptly. He sent Katharine with some of her
ladies to Bermondsey Abbey, there to remain in honourable confinement:
he arrested Owen Tudor, a priest--probably the priest who had performed
the marriage--and his servant, and sent all three to Newgate.

All three succeeded in breaking prison, and escaped. At this point the
story gets mixed. The King himself, we are told, then a lad of fifteen,
sent to Owen commanding his attendance before the Council. Why did they
not arrest him again? Owen, however, refused to trust himself to the
Council--was not Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, one of them? He asked for
a safe-conduct. They promised him one by a verbal message. Where was he,
then, that all these messages should be sent backwards and forwards? I
think he must have been in Sanctuary. He refused a verbal message, and
demanded a written safe-conduct. This was granted him, and he returned
to London. But he mistrusted even the written promise; he would not face
the Council: he took refuge in the Sanctuary of Westminster, where they
were afraid to seize him. And here for a while he remained. It is said
that they tried to draw him out by sending old friends who invited him
to the taverns outside the Abbey Precinct. But Owen would not be so
drawn. He knew that Duke Humphrey would make an end of him if he could.
He therefore remained where he was. I think that he must have had some
secret understanding with the King; for one day, learning that Henry
himself was with the Council, he suddenly presented himself and pleaded
his own cause. The mild young king, tender on account of his mother,
would not allow the case to be pursued, but bade him go free.

He departed; he made all haste to get out of an unwholesome air: he made
for Wales. Here the hostility of Duke Humphrey pursued him still: he was
once more arrested, taken to Wallingford, and placed in the Castle there
a prisoner. From Wallingford he was transferred again to Newgate, he and
his priest and his servant. Once more they all three broke prison,
'foully' wounding a warder in the achievement of liberty, and got back
to Wales, choosing for their residence the mountainous parts into which
the English garrisons never penetrated.

When the King came of age Owen Tudor was allowed to return, and was
presented with a pension of £40 a year. It is remarkable, however, that
he received no promotion, or rank; that he was never knighted; and that
the title of Esquire was the only one by which he was known. It
certainly seems as if the claim of Owen Tudor to be called a gentleman
was not recognised by the King or the heralds. Perhaps Welsh gentility
was as little understood by these Normans as Irish royalty--yet, so far
as length of pedigree goes, both Welsh and Irish were very superior to
Normans.

The two sons, Edmund and Jasper, were placed under the charge of
Katharine de la Pole, Abbess of Barking, and sister of the Earl of
Suffolk. When the King came of age he remembered his half-brothers:
Edmund was made Earl of Richmond, Jasper Earl of Pembroke; both ranked
before all other English Earls. Edmund was afterwards married to
Margaret Beaufort, who as Countess of Richmond was the foundress of
Christ's and St. John's Colleges, Cambridge. Her son, as everybody
knows, was Henry VII.

As for Owen Tudor, that gallant adventurer, who began so well on the
field of battle, ended as well, fighting, as he should, for his step-son
and King, under the badge of the Red Rose. When the Civil Wars began he
joined the King's forces, though he was then nearer seventy than sixty.
He fought at Wakefield; he pursued the Yorkists to Mortimer's Cross,
where another fight took place. The Lancastrians were defeated. Owen was
taken prisoner, and was cruelly beheaded on the field. It was right and
just that he should so fight and should so die. He survived his Queen
twenty-four years.

The unfortunate Katharine, whose _mésalliance_ gave us the strongest
sovereigns we have ever had over us, did not long survive the disgrace
of discovery. As to public knowledge of the fact, one cannot learn how
widely it was extended. Probably it grew by degrees: chroniclers speak
of it without reserve, and when the sons grew up and were acknowledged
by the King there was no pretence at concealment. To be the son of a
French Princess and a Welsh gentleman was not, after all, a matter for
shame or concealment. Katharine carried down to the Abbey a disorder
which she calls of long standing and grievous. It killed her in less
than a year after her imprisonment among the orchards and meadows of the
Precinct. It is said that her remorse during her last days was very
deep; not for her second marriage, but for having allowed her
accouchement of the King to take place at Windsor, a place against which
she was warned by the astrologer. 'Henry of Windsor shall lose all that
Henry of Monmouth shall win.' Alas! had Henry of Windsor been Henry of
Monmouth himself, he would have lost all there was to lose. Could there
be a worse prospect, had Katharine understood the dangers, of
hereditary disease? On the one side the grandson of a leper and the son
of a consumptive; on the other side, the grandson of a madman and a
Messalina.

[Illustration: ST. OLAVE, SOUTHWARK]

Katharine dictated her will a few days before her death. She asks for
masses for her soul: for rewards for her servants: for her debts to be
paid. And she says not one word about her children by Owen Tudor. She
confesses by this silence that she is ashamed. She confesses by this
silence that, being a Queen, and of a Royal House, she ought not in her
widowhood to have been mated with any less than a King.

'I trustfully,' she says in the preamble, addressing her son the King,
'and am right sure, that among all creatures earthly ye best may and
will best tender and favour my will, in ordaining for my soul and body,
in seeing that my debts be paid and my servants guerdoned, and in tender
and favourable fulfilment of mine intent.' The words are full of queenly
dignity; but--where is the mention of her children? Perhaps, however,
she knew that the King would provide for them.

Another Queen died here: the Queen 'to whom all griefs were
known'--Elizabeth Woodville. It is not easy to feel much sympathy with
this unfortunate woman, yet there are few scenes of history more full of
pathos and of mournfulness than that in which her boy was torn from her
arms; and she knew--all knew--even the Archbishops, when they gave their
consent, knew--that the boy was to be done to death. When one talks of
Queens and their misfortunes, it may be remembered that few Queens have
suffered more than Elizabeth Woodville. In misfortune she sits apart
from other Queens, her only companions being Mary Queen of Scots and
Marie Antoinette. Her record is full of woe. But in that long war it
seems impossible to find one single character, man or woman--unless it
is King Henry--who is true and loyal. All--all--are perjured,
treacherous, cruel, self-seeking. All are as proud as Lucifer. Murder is
the friend and companion of the noblest lord; perjury walks on the other
side of him; treachery stalks behind him: all are his henchmen.
Elizabeth met perjury and treachery with intrigue and plot and
counter-plot: she was the daughter of her time. She was accused of being
privy to the plots of Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck: she was more
Yorkist than her husband; she hated the Red Rose long after the Red and
the White were united by her daughter and Henry the Seventh. That she
was suspected of these intrigues shows the character she bore. We must
make allowance: she was always in a false position; Edward ought not to
have married her; she was hated by her own party; she was compelled in
the interests of her children to be always on the defensive; and in her
conduct of defence she was the daughter of her age. These things,
however, deprive her, somewhat, of the pity which we ought to feel for
so many misfortunes.

[Illustration: 'LE LOKE']

She, too, had to retire to the seclusion of Bermondsey, where she could
sit and watch the ships go up and down, and so feel that the world, with
which she had no more concern, still continued. It has been suggested
that she retired voluntarily to the Abbey. Such a retreat was not in
the character of Elizabeth Woodville, so long as there was a daughter
or a kinsman left to fight for. Like Katharine of Valois, she made an
end not without dignity. Witness the following clause in her will:--

    _Item._ Whereas I have no worldly goods with which to do the Queen's
    Grace, my dearest daughter, a pleasure, neither to reward any of my
    children, according to my heart and mind, I beseech God Almighty to
    bless her Grace with all her noble Issue, and, with as good a heart
    and mind as may be, I give her Grace aforesaid my blessing and all
    the aforesaid my children.

In this chapter it has been my endeavour to restore an ecclesiastical
foundation which has somehow dropped out of history and become no more
than a name. If this were a history of South London it would be
necessary to devote an equal space to other houses; to the churches and
to the two ancient hospitals 'Le Loke' and St. Thomas's. It is
impossible, even in these narrow limits, to speak of the religious
foundations of South London without mention of the other great House,
more ancient than that of Bermondsey. Few Americans who visit London
leave it without paying a pilgrimage to the venerable and beautiful
church which glorifies Southwark. There were great marriages and great
functions held in the Church of St. Mary Overy: Gower, that excellent
poet whom the professors of literature praise and nobody reads, died and
lies buried in this church; it was the church of the playerfolk: here
lie buried Edmund Shakespeare, John Fletcher, Philip Massinger, and
Philip Henslow. Here lie buried, in that 'sure and certain hope' which
the Church allows even to them, the rufflers, 'roreres' and sinners of
Bank Side and Maiden Lane; the brawlers and the topers and the strikers
of the Bear Garden and the Bull Baiting. Here were tried notable
heretics: Hooper and Rogers, and many more, while Gardiner and Bonner
thundered and bullied. From this church the martyrs went forth to meet
the flames. The people of Southwark needed not to cross the river in
order to learn such lessons as the martyrdoms had to teach them. The
stake was set up in St. George's Fields, where they could read, mark,
learn, and inwardly digest the undesigned teaching of Bonner and his
friends.

It is the custom of historians to point to the martyrdom of Cranmer and
the Bishops as the chief cause of the overwhelming Protestant reaction.
So great was the horror, they say, of the people at the death of the
Archbishop, that the whole nation was roused--and so on. For myself I
like to think that, as the people would feel now, so, _mutatis
mutandis_, they felt then. Was there any such mighty horror felt in
London when Cranmer died in Oxford? Not so much horror, I believe, as
when from their own ranks, from their own houses, from their own
families, men and women and boys were taken out and led to execution.
Violent deaths--by beheading, by hanging, by the flames--were witnessed
every day. How many were hanged by Henry VIII.? The deaths of nobles did
not touch the people; they looked on unmoved while the most innocent and
most holy men in the country--the blameless Carthusians--suffered death
as traitors; they looked on at the death of Sir Thomas More; when
witches were burned they looked on. It was when they saw their own
brothers, sisters, cousins, dragged out and put to death without a
cause, that they began to doubt and to question. Nay, I think it was not
the manner of death that affected them, because burning was a thing so
common: it was the sentence itself passed on honest and godly folk, and
the behaviour of the people at their death. Tender women chained to the
stake suffered without a groan, only praying loudly till death came;
people remembered, they recalled with tears afterwards, how the martyr
and his wife and his children knelt on the ground for one last prayer
before the stake; they remembered how the sufferer stepped into his
place with a smiling face and welcomed the fiery lane that led him to
the place where he longed to be: was this, they asked, the courage
inspired of God, or of the devil? They remembered how another washed
his hands in the mounting and roaring flames; how the clouds parted at
the prayer of another, and the smiling sun of heaven shone upon him; and
it was even like unto the countenance of the Blessed Lord. The sight and
the remembrance of the sufferings of their own folk, not the execution
at a distance of an Archbishop and a few Bishops, moved the people and
remained with them, and enveloped the Church of Rome with a hatred from
which it has not wholly recovered even in these latter days.

The foundation of St. Thomas's Hospital belongs to both the great Houses
of Southwark.

It was the general Rule in all religious Houses that there should be a
provision for the poor, the sick, and those who were orphans. St. Mary
Overy had a hospital adjoining the priory which was an almshouse
certainly, and probably an orphanage as well. It was under the care of
the Archdeacon of Surrey. Attached to St. Saviour's was an almonry
intended for the same purpose. But the Abbey was entirely secluded: it
lay far from any highway; there were no houses, except farm buildings
for the monastery's labourers; there were no poor, no sick, and no
orphans. So that, when the great fire of 1213 destroyed Southwark and
crossed the river by the Bridge into London, the monks of St. Saviour's
bethought them that to make their almonry useful it would be well to
rebuild it half a mile to the west, on the Southwark Causeway. This was
done, and the Hospital of St. Mary was united with it, and the new
foundation which Bishop Peter de Rupibus most liberally endowed was
named after St. Thomas. At first it was not a hospital especially for
the sick, as St. Bartholomew's and St. Mary of Spittal. It was a
fraternity like St. Catherine's by the Tower, for brethren and sisters
under a master, with bedesmen and women, and a school, and an infirmary;
but not, as St. Bartholomew's was from the beginning altogether, only a
hospital for the sick.

[Illustration: REMAINS OF THE PALACE OF THE BISHOP OF WINCHESTER, FROM
THE SOUTH]

As for the religious life of the place, it was in most respects like
that of London. There were no houses for Friars, but the Friars came
across the river _en quête_, 'mumping,' on their begging rounds; and in
the taverns were put up boxes for the contributions of the faithful
(towards the end these contributions fell off sadly). There was plenty
of life and colour in the streets: serving men in bright liveries of the
great Houses--the Bishops of Winchester and Rochester, the Abbots of
Lewes, Hyde, and Battle--went about their errands; there were Gilds,
notably that of St. George, which had their processions and their days:
there were crosses and images of saints, at which the passer-by doffed
his hat--in the wall of Lambeth Palace was an image of St. Thomas à
Becket overlooking the river, to which every waterman and bargee paid
reverence.

Some of the punishments of the time were ordered by the Church. There
was whipping, but not the terrible murderous flogging of the eighteenth
century; there were hangings, but not for everything. Mostly to the
credit of the Church, punishment was designed not to crush a man, but to
shame him into repentance, and to give him a chance of retrieving his
character. A man might be set in the stocks, or put in pillory, and so
made to feel the heinousness of his offence. This punishment was like
that which is inflicted on a schoolboy: the thing done, the boy is taken
back to favour. The eighteenth century branded him, imprisoned him,
transported him, made a brute of him, and then hanged him. Did a woman
speak despitefully of authority? Presumptuous quean! Set her up in the
cage besides the stoulpes of London Bridge, that everyone should see her
there and should ask what she had done. After an hour or two take her
down; bid her go home and keep henceforth a quiet tongue in her head.
This leniency was only for offences moral and against the law. For
freedom of thought or doctrine there was Bishop Bonner's better way. And
it was a way inhuman, inflexible, unable to forgive.



CHAPTER IV

THE ROYAL HOUSES OF SOUTH LONDON


All round London, like beads upon a string, were dotted Royal Houses,
Palaces, and Hunting Places. On the north side were Westminster,
Whitehall, St. James's, Kensington, Shene, Theobald's, Hatfield,
Cheshunt, King's Langley, Hunsdon, Havering-atte-Bower, Stepney, the
Tower; on the south side were Kennington, Eltham, Greenwich, Kew,
Hampton, Windsor, a tradition attaching to Streatham, and the House of
Nonesuch, built by Henry VIII. at Cheam. Most of these royal houses are
now clean forgotten. Eltham preserves some ruins left of Edward IV.'s
buildings; it still shows the moat and the old bridge, and the line of
its former wall; but tradition, which has quite forgotten its memories
of the Edwards and the Tudors, describes it as the Palace of King John.
The sailors--now, alas! also gone--have deprived Greenwich of Edward VI.
and Elizabeth. Theobald's is gone altogether, Nonesuch is wholly cleared
away. Of Kennington, of which I have to speak in this place, not one
stone remains upon another; not a vestige is above ground; the people on
the spot know of no remains underground; its very memory is gone and
forgotten: there is not even a tradition left, although part of the
ruins were still standing only a hundred years ago.

The reason for this oblivion is not far to seek. The palace was
deserted; it was pulled down before 1607--Camden says that even then
there was not a stone remaining--there was not a single house within
half a mile in every direction. There was no one, when the last stones
had been carted away, left to remember or to remind his children that
there had been a palace on this spot. Another house was built here, but
no tradition attached to it. Two hundred years passed, and then came the
destruction of the second house; in 1745 there was not even a cottage
near the spot. This being so, it is not difficult to understand why the
site was forgotten.

[Illustration: THE LONG BARN]

The moat remained, however, and apparently some of the substructures; a
building of stone and thatch, part of the offices of the palace, also
stood. They called it the 'Long Barn,' and when the distressed
Protestants were brought over here in 1700 as many as the place would
hold were crammed into the Long Barn. Market gardens lay all over the
country between Kennington Road and Lambeth, and on the site of the
palace there was not a single person left who could carry on the
tradition of the king's house that once stood here. Roque, the map-maker
of 1745, knew nothing about it. In 1795 the Long Barn was taken down. At
the beginning of the century houses began to rise here and there;
streets began to be formed: at least three streets cross the gardens and
the site of the palace; but there is not one tradition of a place which,
as we shall see, was full of history for six hundred years. 'Is this
fame?' might ask the king who crowned himself here, the king who died
here, the king who was brought up here, the kings who kept their
Christmas feast here, the kings who here received their brides, held
Parliament, and went out a-hunting.

The king who crowned himself here was Harold Harefoot, son of Cnut--that
is to say, it was at 'Lambeth,' and there was no other house at Lambeth.

[Illustration: SKETCH MAP]

The king who died in this house was that young Dane who appears to have
been an incarnation of the ideal Danish brutality. He dragged his
brother's body out of its grave and flung it into the Thames; he
massacred the people of Worcester and ravaged the shire; and he did
these brave deeds and many others all in two short years. Then he went
to his own place. His departure was both fitting and dramatic. For one
so young it showed with what a yearning and madness he had been
drinking. He went across the river--there was, I repeat, no other house
in Lambeth except this, so that it must have been here--to attend the
wedding of his standard-bearer, Tostig the Proud, with Goda, daughter of
the Thane Osgod Clapa, whose name survives in his former estate of
Clapham. A Danish wedding was always an occasion for hard drinking,
while the minstrels played and sang and the mummers tumbled. When men
were well drunken the pleasing sport of bone throwing began: they threw
the beef bones at each other. The fun of the game consisted in the
accident of a man not being able to dodge the bone which struck him, and
probably killed him. Archbishop Alphege was thus killed. The soldiers
had no special desire to kill the old man: why couldn't he enter into
the spirit of the game and dodge the bones? As he did not, of course he
was hit, and as the bone was a big and a heavy bone, hurled by a
powerful hand, of course it split open his skull. One may be permitted
to think that perhaps King Hardacnut, who is said to have fallen down
suddenly when he 'stood up to drink,' did actually intercept a big beef
bone which knocked him down; and as he remained comatose until he died,
the proud Tostig, unwilling to have it said that even in sport his king
had been killed at his wedding, gave out that the king fell down in a
fit. This, however, is speculation.

Forty years after this event, when Domesday Book was compiled, the place
was in the possession of a London citizen, Theodric by name and a
goldsmith by trade. It was still a royal manor, because the goldsmith
held it of Edward the Confessor. It was then valued at three pounds a
year. It is impossible to arrive at the meaning of this valuation. We
may compare it with that of other estates, with the rental and price of
other lands, with the cost of provisions, and with the wages and pay of
servants and officers; and when we have done all, we are still very far
from understanding the value of money then or at any subsequent time.
There are, you see, so many points which the writers on the value of
money do not take into consideration. There is the price of bread; but
then there were so many kinds of bread--wheaten bread, barley bread, oat
bread, rye bread; and how much bread did a family of the working class
consume? Flesh, fish, fowl, but how much of either did the working
classes enjoy? Rent? But on the farms the "villains" paid no rent.
There is, in a word, not only the market prices that have to be
considered, but the standard of comfort--always a little higher than the
practice--and the daily relations of the demand to the supply. So that
when we read that this manor of Kennington was worth three pounds a year
we are not advanced in the least. As most of the land was still marshy
and useless, we may understand that the value was low.

We next hear of Kennington in 1189, when King Richard granted it on
lease, or for life, to Sir Robert Percy with the title of Lord of the
Manor. Henry III. came here on several occasions; here he held his
Lambeth Parliament. He kept his Christmas here in 1231. Great was the
feasting and boundless the hospitality of this Christmas, at which this
king lavished the treasures of the State.

The site of the palace is indicated in the accompanying map. If you walk
along the Kennington Road from Bridge Street, Westminster, you presently
come to a place where four roads meet, Upper Kennington Lane on the
left, and Lower Kennington Lane on the right; the road goes on to the
Horns Tavern and Kennington Park. On the right-hand side stood the
palace. In the year 1636 a plan of the house and grounds was executed;
but by that time the mediæval character of the place was quite
forgotten. It was a square house, probably Elizabethan; the home of King
Henry III. at some time or other had been completely taken away. The
site of the moat, however, was left, and there was still standing the
'Long Barn.' The only way to find out what the palace really was in the
thirteenth or fourteenth century is to compare it with another palace
built under much the same conditions, and intended to serve the same
purpose. Fortunately there still stand, some miles to the east of
Kennington, at Eltham, important remains of such a contemporary palace,
with a description of the place as it was before it was allowed to fall
into ruins.

We are not at this moment concerned with the history of Eltham.
Sufficient to note that it was a great and stately place for five
hundred years and more; that it passed through the hands of Bishop Odo;
of the Mandevilles; of the De Vescis; of Bishop Anthony Bec; and of
Geoffrey le Scrope of Masham. As a royal residence its history begins
with Henry III., who kept his Christmas here in 1270, and ends with
Elizabeth, who came over here occasionally from Greenwich. Here
Isabella, wife of Edward II., gave birth to a son, John of Eltham. The
greatest builder at Eltham was Edward IV.

The house in 1649, fifty years after Elizabeth had visited it, is said
to have contained a chapel, a banqueting-hall, rooms on the ground floor
and first floor called the King's side and the Queen's side. There were
buildings and rooms of all kinds round the courtyard. The number of
chambers in all was very great, and it is said, further, that the large
courtyard covered a whole acre in extent. Such an area would give about
two hundred and ten feet to each side of a square. This would be large
for a college at Oxford or Cambridge. It would cover about the same area
as that of New Palace Yard. There were, however, other courts; four
courts in all are spoken of. The lesser courts were used for the
'service,' the kitchens, butteries, pantries, stables, rooms for the
servants, the barracks for the men-at-arms who accompanied the king, the
grooms, armourers, makers and menders, bakers and brewers, cooks and
scullions, and the women servants, and the wives and the children. A
strong stone wall, battlemented, with loopholed turrets, surrounded the
palace; a broad and deep moat defended the wall; the bridge which
crossed the moat had a drawbridge; the gate had its portcullis. The
palace, in a word, was a fortress, for there was never a king in England
who would have dared to keep his court, or to sleep, in an unfortified
manor house, or outside a fortress--certainly not Henry III. or Edward
IV.--unless, of course, it was on the tented field in the midst of his
army.

The existing remains of the palace correspond to this description. There
is the moat, deep and broad; there is the bridge, the drawbridge gone.
Within, the most important ruin is that of Edward IV.'s banqueting hall.
This is a most noble chamber, with a roof of oak as perfect as when it
was built; the two magnificent bays remain, with the double row of
windows. It would be difficult to find a finer banqueting hall in the
whole country than that of Eltham. In the grounds, the traces of the
wall and those of other buildings ought to make it possible, with a very
little excavation, to trace a plan of the whole house.

[Illustration: Gateway in the Hall, Eltham Palace]

As was Eltham, so was Kennington. Both places were built for the same
purpose about the same time. Both were castles erected on a plain
without the aid of hillock, mound or running stream--unless the moat at
Kennington was fed by one of the many streams of South London. The plan
of 1636 shows approximately the line of the wall; the stream or the
ditch marks the course of the moat; the 'Long Barn' on the east side of
the palace belonged to the 'service'--it was kitchens, stables, armoury,
brewery, or granary. The house itself had its principal entrance on the
north. This is certain, because all the supplies were brought by what
is now Kennington Road either from Westminster Ferry or from Southwark.
A gate on this side simplified the transference which took place when
the court moved from one place to another; when everything--bedding,
blankets, utensils of all kinds, plate, _batterie de cuisine_, the
workmen with their tools, the wardrobe of king and queen--was packed up
and carried from Westminster over the ferry to Kennington, or from
Kennington to Woolwich. Provisions and goods sent up from the City were
also landed at Stangate, Lambeth, so as to get as short a land journey
as possible. For these reasons I place the principal gate at the north.

I have seen it stated--I know not with what truth--that the people of
the streets now on the site have found substructures beneath their
houses. If so, one would expect, what one cannot find, some tradition to
account for the existence of these stone vaults.

Such was the vanished Palace of Kennington: a fortress of the Lambeth
Marsh, a place for keeping Christmas, a royal residence; now completely
vanished.

Two other royal houses there were in South London, neither of which can
be compared with Kennington. Greenwich, for instance, which appears in
history from the time of King Alfred. Edward I., Henry IV., Henry V.,
Edward IV., Henry VII., Henry VIII., Edward VI., and Elizabeth--all had
more or less to do with Greenwich. When Henry VIII. completed his
buildings here he deserted Eltham; he left, that is, the mediæval
fortress for the modern house. His Greenwich was not fortified. The
accompanying view of it shows that it possessed none of the
characteristics of the ancient residence, half castle, half manor house.
Greenwich, however, before Henry rebuilt it, was a fortified castle. Had
we a plan of Greenwich of the fourteenth century it would most certainly
resemble those of Eltham and of Kennington, with certain small
differences, just as one Benedictine monastery resembles in its general
disposition another Benedictine monastery, and one Norman castle in
general terms, and allowing for the site, resembles another.

The other house of which I have spoken is that of Nonesuch. This house
was not a reconstruction and an adaptation with much of the ancient
work: it was newly built and furnished entirely by Henry VIII. There was
no suspicion of battlements, no pretence at a fortification; the house
stood open and unprotected save by the order maintained by the strong
king. It was not beautiful according to our ideas; nor was it what we
now call a Tudor house; it bears upon it every mark of the builder's
interference with the architect. The outside walls of Nonesuch were
decorated by certain bas-reliefs representing subjects from the heathen
mythology. The house was pulled down by the Duchess of Cleveland, to
whom Charles II. gave it. Nonesuch, however, has nothing to do with
Kennington, and must not detain us.

[Illustration: The Ancient Royal Palace at Greenwich]

Let us next consider what it means when the king is said to have kept
his Christmas at a place.

During the festival--for twenty days--he kept open house, nominally.
That is to say, all comers received food and drink: his guests, one
supposes, were bidden. Every day during the festival the king sat at the
feast wearing his crown and his robes of royal state. Richard II., the
most prodigal of all princes that ever lived, entertained every day no
fewer than ten thousand persons at his palace. What the number was at
Christmas no one knows. In addition to the ordinary following of the
court--a huge army of chaplains, canons, scribes, secretaries, gentlemen
archers, and servants--there were the bishops and abbots, the peers and
barons, who came to the Christmas feast, each attended by his own
following of knights and esquires and men in livery. For the
entertainment of this enormous company what a huge establishment would
be needed! The organisation was complete; everything was in departments,
each under the yeomen: the chambers, the wardrobe, the kitchens, the
stables, the cellars. Yet what an army in each department! Then, since
at Christmas time we look for amusement, there was the Master of the
Revels, and with him an extensive and variegated following; among them
were all those who played on the different instruments of music, those
who sang, the buffoons, tumblers, and mummers, the dancing girls. It was
in the time of Henry III. that these performances were brought over for
the delectation of the English court--perhaps with the pious intention
of showing what joys and attractions awaited the Crusaders in the Holy
Land itself.

Hall's account of the festivities of a Christmas a hundred and fifty
years later than the time of Richard II. is as follows:--

'The Kyng this yere kept the feast of Christmas at Grenewiche, wher was
suche abundance of viands served to all comers of any honest behaviour,
as hath been few times seen; and against New Yeres night was made, in
the Hall, a castle, gates, towers, and dungion, garnished with
artilerie, and weapon after the most warlike fashion: and on the frount
of the castle was written, Le Fortresse Dangerus, and within the castle
were six ladies clothed in russet satin laide all over with leves of
golde, and every owde knit with laces of blewe silke and golde; on ther
heddes, coyfes and cappes all of golde. After this castle had been
carried about the hal, and the Quene had behelde it, in came the Kyng
with five other appareled in coates, the one half of russet satyn,
spangled with spangles of fine golde, the other halfe riche cloth of
gold; on their heddes cappes of russet satin embroudered with workes of
fine gold bullion. These six assaulted the castle: the ladies seyng them
so lustie and coragious were content to solace with them, and upon
farther communication to yeld the castle, and so thei came down and
daunced a long space. And after the ladies led the knightes into the
castle, and then the castle sodainly vanished out of their sight.

'On the daie of the Epiphanie at night, the Kyng with XI other were
disguised after the manner of Italie, called a maske, a thing not seen
afore in Englande; they were apparelled in garments long and brode,
wrought all with gold, with visers and cappes of gold; and after the
banket doen, these maskers came in with six gentlemen disguised in
silke, bearing staffe torches, and desired the ladies to daunce; some
were content, and some that knew the fashion of it refused, because it
was not a thing commonly seen. And after they daunced and commoned
together as the fashion of the maske is, thei tooke their leave and
departed. And so did the Quene and all the ladies.'

When the Christmas festivities ceased, the servants packed up the gear:
the napery, plate, gold and silver cups, dishes, pillows, curtains,
tapestry and carpets. They were all laid upon waggons, the broad-wheeled
creaking waggons which were dragged slowly over the uneven and heavy
lanes by teams of horses or by bullocks. The queen and her ladies were
carried in chairs or carriages, or went on horseback; the king and his
followers rode; and so they went back to Westminster. The ferry carried
over the heavy goods and the horses: the royal barges received the
court. After them marched the whole rout--the two thousand archers
without whom Richard never moved; the armies of servants; lastly, when
the last procurable cup had been drained, the musicians and the mummers
and the singers marched off sadly. A whole twelvemonth before another
Christmas! They marched in the direction of the City, and that night, as
they report, there was strange revelry in the inns of Southwark. The
house was left in charge of a warden, who had with him the principal
officers of the palace, the yeomen of the wardrobe, of the cellars, of
the kitchens, and so forth; the organisation being kept up in readiness,
though the king might not come back for years. This fact was illustrated
a short time ago, when I was interested in watching the progress of a
certain genealogy. About the year 1540 a certain younger son left his
house; it was necessary to connect him with his own descendants. The
link was found in the fact that this younger son had been received by
Carey, warden of Hunsdon House, who made him one of his yeomen; a
cheerless appointment, like a college in perpetual vacation, the warden
and yeomen, representing the Master and Fellows, dining every day in the
dismantled hall, and wandering about the empty courts and silent
gardens. Palaces, like theatres, have their times of emptiness, during
which it is best to keep out of them. For my own part, I think the true
way of enjoying a palace is to frequent it as Froissart did: to hear all
that was said and to put down all that was done, but not to be an actor
in a drama which reeks of blood; not even the splendid mounting can
destroy that dreadful reek. How many people are murdered about the court
of England from Richard II. to Henry VII.? Richard murders his uncle,
Henry IV. murders his cousin, Henry V. murders his uncle; Henry VI., it
is true, murders no one, but then he lives in a time when there is a
perpetual series of murders. What an awful time! Froissart, who looked
on at part of the drama, achieved deathless renown for his history,
while in the whole of that court there was no one whose head was safe on
his shoulders except Froissart. Unfortunately, he says little about this
palace which we are considering.

There are many names of kings and princes connected with this house of
Kennington. Edward I. was here occasionally. During his reign it was the
residence of John Earl of Surrey, and of his son, John Plantagenet Earl
of Warren and Surrey. Plenty of histories could be made out of these and
other names, had the writer time or the reader patience. In truth, the
reader's patience is more to be considered than the writer's time, for
the writer, at least, has the joy of hunting up names and notes and
allusions, and of piecing together what, after all, his reader may not
find of interest enough to carry him through. Edward III. made the manor
part of the Duchy of Cornwall. After the death of the Black Prince the
princess lived here with the young Prince Richard. I do not find that
Henry IV. was fond of a house which would certainly be haunted--especially
the room in which he was to sleep--by the sorrowful shade of his
murdered cousin. Nor did Henry V. come here during his short reign.
Henry VI., however, made use of Kennington Palace; so did Henry VII.;
and the last of the queens whose name can be connected with the palace
was Catherine of Arragon.

I do not know when the palace was destroyed. You have seen the place as
it was figured in 1636, when it was only an ordinary square house. The
plan was drawn when Charles I. leased it to Sir Francis Cottington. The
destruction of the old house and the building of the new must have taken
place during the hundred years between 1530 and 1630. When the new house
was taken down I do not know.

The name that we especially associate with Kennington Palace is that of
Richard II. When the Black Prince died, in 1376, Richard remained at
Kennington under the care of his mother and the tutorship of Sir
Guiscard d'Angle, 'that accomplished knight.' The young prince started
with the finest possible chances of popularity. His father was not only
the greatest captain of his age, but he was also, in the latter years of
his life, on the popular side against the old King and his supporters;
the boy was endowed with a singular beauty of person, and, when he
pleased, with a sweetness of manner most unusual even among princes,
with whom affability is the first essential in princely manners. In
addition to this he was destined to show on two occasions courage which
almost amounted to insensibility--first, when he dispersed Wat Tyler's
mob, and next, when he seized the reins of government. History shows how
he threw away all his chances in reckless extravagance.

[Illustration: SEAL OF THE BLACK PRINCE

(_From Allen's History of Lambeth_)]

After the death of the Black Prince it was resolved by the Lord Mayor to
pay a visit to Prince Richard at Kennington, with a riding worthy of the
City. The day chosen was the Sunday before Candlemas (February 2). One
has frequent occasion to remark generally upon City pageants, that the
people in these processions and their pageants were entirely regardless
of winter cold or summer heat; they rode forth upon a pageant as
cheerfully in the cold of February as in the sunshine of August. On this
occasion, one hundred and thirty-two citizens on horseback, with
trumpets and other musical instruments, and a vast number of
_flambeaux_, assembled at Newgate in the afternoon, and marched through
the City and over the bridge to Kennington Palace beyond the Borough.
First rode eight-and-forty men in the habits of esquires--with red
coats, say gowns, and vizards. Then followed the same number apparelled
as knights in the same livery. Then rode one singly, a very majestic
figure, who represented the Pope, followed by his four-and-twenty
cardinals. They were followed by ten men dressed in black, with black
vizards, representing legates from the Pope of Hell. This accounts for
one hundred and thirty-two out of the whole number. The last man is not
described. To them must be added pages and henchmen and whifflers, with
men carrying the presents. This cavalcade, which gave the greatest joy
to the citizens, all the way was followed by an enormous company of
'prentices and craftsmen and children, crowding after it and shouting.
When it arrived at Kennington Palace they all dismounted and entered the
hall, where they found the Princess of Wales, the young Prince, and
their attendants, together with the Duke of Lancaster and other great
lords. The court was first solemnly saluted by the masquers, who then
produced dice and invited the Prince to play with them. Would you
believe it?--every time the Prince threw, he won, which was in itself a
remarkable circumstance. He carried off his winnings: a bowl of pure
gold, chased and decorated; a drinking cup also of gold, and a gold
ring. They then invited the Princess and the Duke of Lancaster and
other nobles present, each of whom also won and carried off a gold
ring. This done, the music played, and they were all invited to supper
in the hall with the Prince and the Princess his mother. After supper,
the tables were taken away--they were only planks laid on trestles and
covered with white cloths--and the floor being cleared, the masquers had
the honour of dancing with the royal party. Finally, at a late hour, the
_flambeaux_ were lighted, and the masquers rode home, well pleased with
the reception they had met and the courtesy of the best behaved boy in
the world.

In the same year occurred the great riot of London, which arose out of
Wyclyf's trial in St. Paul's and the quarrel between the Bishop of
London and John of Gaunt. The latter, after the dismissal of Wyclyf,
repaired to the house of John de Ypres, close beside the river, where he
was sitting at dinner when one of his following ran hastily to warn him
that the people were flocking together with intent to murder him if they
could. The Duke therefore hastily ran down to the nearest stairs, took a
boat across the river, and fled as quickly as possible to Kennington
Palace, where he took shelter with the young Prince Richard and his
guardians. The mob, finding that the Duke was gone, made their way to
the Savoy, his palace, threatening to burn and destroy all: they did
actually murder one poor priest because he resembled the Duke in
countenance; they were then persuaded by the Bishop of London to go home
without doing any more mischief. What would have happened one knows not,
but the death of the old King gave an opportunity of patching up the
peace between the Duke of Lancaster and the citizens. Hearing that
Edward was _in extremis_, the Mayor and Aldermen waited on the Princess
of Wales and Prince Richard informing them of the King's critical
situation, and beseeching the Prince's favour to the City; they also
begged him to interfere for the better accommodation of the Duke's
differences with them. It is pleasing to find that John of Gaunt
freely forgave the City and became reconciled to the citizens; a
reconciliation which paved the way to the subsequent popularity of his
son Henry.

[Illustration: The High Street Southwark as it appeared MDXLIII]

It might be argued that the various impressions as regards London
produced on the mind of this prince explain his conduct towards the
citizens when he grew older. The first experiment he had of the citizens
was when they rode over in a goodly company clad in red cloaks with gold
chains and finely appointed horses to visit him at Kennington: he
remembered that their appearance betokened great wealth; that they
tossed about gold cups as if they were of wood. This is a kind of
impression which does not easily die away.

His second impression of the City was when his uncle, John of Gaunt,
came flying from the City, having barely escaped with his life, the
people having gone on to wreck, if they could, his palace of the Savoy.
A turbulent and dangerous people, then, as well as rich; a people to be
kept down.

He next saw the City when he rode through it on his way to be crowned at
Westminster. All the way there was nothing but rich tapestry, carpets,
scarlet, cloth, masquers clad in velvet, pageants with cloth of gold,
and the streets filled with men and women dressed in rich furs and
silks, such as only great barons could afford. This third impression
confirmed the first.

His next impression was that of the City lying prostrate at the mercy of
a large mob, unable to move or to help itself. He went into the City
almost alone; he, by one single act of splendid courage, put an end to
the insurrection. A City cowardly, therefore, and unable to act
together. It was his City, moreover--the _Camera Regis_. Should not a
prince do what he pleases with his own?

When we read of his subsequent treatment of the City: how he believed
its treasures to be inexhaustible; how he believed that it had no power
to resist; how he made the way easy for his cousin to supplant him, let
us bear in mind the lessons which the Londoners themselves provided for
him in his youth.

This King seizes on the imagination of all who think about him. His is
one of the strangest of all the strange figures which crowd the National
Portrait Gallery. Richly endowed with artistic instincts; a lover of
music and all the fine arts; of singularly winning manners; the
comeliest man in his whole kingdom; splendid in raiment, magnificent in
his court, colossal in his personal pride, prodigal and extravagant
beyond compare; the King whom those who knew him in his youth never
ceased to love; for whose soul--not for the soul of Henry
IV.--Whittington, for instance, left money for masses--this is a figure
among our English kings which has no parallel.

One more reminiscence of Kennington Palace. The last occasion on which
Richard lodged there was when he brought home his little bride Isabel,
the queen of eight years. They brought her from Dover, resting on the
way at Canterbury and Rochester. At Blackheath they were met by the
Mayor and Aldermen, attired with great magnificence of costume to do
honour to the bride. After reverences due, they fell into their place
and rode on with the procession. When they arrived at Newington, the
King thanked the Mayor and permitted him to leave the procession and
return home. He himself, with his company, rode by the cross-country
lane from Newington to Kennington Palace. I observe that this proves the
existence of a path or lane where is now Upper Kennington Lane. At this
palace the little queen rested a night, and next day was carried in
another procession to the Tower. The knights rode before, and the French
ladies came after. It is pretty to read how Isabel, with her long fair
hair falling over her shoulders, and her sweet childish face, sat up and
smiled upon the people, playing and pretending to be queen, which she
had been practising ever since her betrothal. Needless to say that all
hearts were ravished. The good people of London were ever ready to
welcome one princess after another, and to lose their hearts to them,
whether it was Isabel of France, or Katharine her sister, or Anne
Boleyn, or Queen Charlotte, or the fair Princess of Denmark. So great a
press was there that many were actually squeezed to death on London
Bridge, where the houses only left twelve feet in breadth. Isabel's
queenship proved a pretence: before she was old enough to be queen,
indeed, her husband was in confinement; before she understood that he
was a captive, he was murdered, and the splendid extravagant reign was
over. The son of the usurper, young Harry of Monmouth himself, desired
to take the place of Richard; his father also desired the match, for the
sake of the dowry. Isabel, child as she was still, had the heart of a
woman; she had learned to love her handsome, courteous, accomplished
lord, who died before he could claim her; she refused absolutely to
marry the son of his murderer. They tried to move her resolution by
persuasion; they did not dare to force her: let us believe that Harry of
Monmouth would not stoop to force the girl to marry him. There was
nothing therefore left to do, but to send her home to what was certainly
the most miserable court or palace in the world--that of her mad father.
In the end, she married her cousin, the poet Charles of Orleans. You may
read the verses which he made upon her death. Isabel died in childbirth
in her twenty-second year. As for Harry of Monmouth, as all the world
knows, he was obliged to content himself with Isabel's younger sister,
Katharine; we have just read about that queen, and how she stooped to a
suitor below her own degree. I think she was made of clay not so fine as
that of Isabel, her sister.


2. ELTHAM PALACE

The second in our chain of suburban Palaces was the Royal House of
Eltham, already mentioned in connection with Kennington. The place
itself seems to have been a settlement of some kind, a town or village,
in very ancient times. In the thirteenth century it was considered of
importance enough to receive the grant of a market day every Tuesday,
and a Fair for three days every year, namely, the day before the Feast
of the Trinity, the Feast itself, and the day after. In the fourteenth
century the market day was altered to Monday, but the Fair remained; in
the fifteenth century the market day returned to Tuesday and the Fair
was changed to three days on the Eve of St. Peter and St. Paul, on the
Feast itself, and on the day after. The market and the Fair have long
since been discontinued. The importance of both depended on the
occasional presence of the Court, and when that was removed altogether
from the place there was no longer any necessity for either market or
Fair Day. Eltham then became a small agricultural village lying in the
midst of woods, with nothing but scattered villages for many miles
round. So long as it contained one of the recognised Palaces, even
though years might pass by without a visit from the sovereign, there
was, attached to the house, the permanent staff to a Governor or warder,
with chiefs of the various departments and the men or assistants under
them. The occupation of the Palace by such a staff gave the place a kind
of garrison, and created a demand for provisions and for all sorts of
things. On those rare occasions when the Court was actually in Residence
at Eltham, the market had to furnish supplies, to which all the country
round had to contribute; nothing short of provisions for the maintenance
of thousands of people daily. At Eltham the difficulty may have been
very great; no doubt word would be sent long beforehand if the King
proposed to keep Christmas there. The yeomen of the kitchen had the beef
put in the pickling tubs in November--vast quantities of beef, for,
Christmas or not, the staple food of everybody in the winter was salt
beef. At the Palace of Kennington things were easier. It lay within easy
reach of the London market; so was Westminster. Greenwich was accessible
by ships from the lower reaches of the Thames as well as from London.
Eltham, no doubt, depended upon the rich and fruitful country in which
it stood. At eight miles from London, the markets there were of very
little use. The annals of the Palace are simple, rather than scanty; in
fact, there is plenty of mention made of the Palace, yet very little of
importance is recorded concerning it. All that is recorded of it belongs
to peace and festivity and the season of Christmas. Eltham was given by
William the Conqueror to his half-brother Odo, Bishop of Bayeux and Earl
of Kent. After the disgrace of Odo, and the confiscation of his estates,
the manor belonged partly to the Queen and partly to the Mandevilles.
Thence it passed into the hands of the De Vesci family. From them it
went to the Scropes, and from them to various holders in succession.

There was a Palace, or House, here of some kind in very ancient times.
The historian says that he cannot ascertain when the Palace was built
(see p. 74). Since the origin of the House is unknown, he argues that it
must have been ancient. Now, concerning its connections with our Kings
and Queens, there is quite a long list. All these lists would have to be
catalogued, and even then be forgotten. For instance, the following list
of visits I borrow from Lysons. But I cannot pretend that it is of much
interest.

[Illustration: REMAINS OF ELTHAM PALACE, 1796]

In the year 1270 Henry III. kept Christmas at his Palace of Eltham with
the Queen and his nobles. After this the name of Anthony Bec, Bishop of
Durham and Patriarch of Jerusalem, is connected with the place. He built
a great deal, but I know not if any ruins of his yet remain. He died at
Eltham in 1311, presumably in the Palace, for there seem to have been no
other buildings. Now we come back to the kings, and we find historical
associations in plenty, though not of a kind which is moving or
interesting. It does not excite our curiosity much to learn that this
king or that king kept Christmas here, and yet that is the kind of
association which I have to offer. Edward the Second was often here:
perhaps the seclusion of the place enabled him to play his favourite
games with his followers without being overseen. One of his sons, John
of Eltham, was born here. Edward III., when still under age, had a
Parliament at Eltham in 1329. In 1347 his son Lionel kept Christmas for
him at Eltham. In 1364 he entertained here the French king John, his
prisoner. In 1375 he held another Parliament here, when the Commons
petitioned him to make Richard, his grandson, Prince of Wales. Richard
the Second, as we should expect, regarded Eltham with a peculiar
affection; it was beautiful; the buildings were splendid. It was a long
way from the City which took upon itself to remonstrate with his
extravagance. Three times at least he kept Christmas here: on the last
he entertained Leo, King of Armenia, with great splendour and profusion.
Henry the Fourth kept Christmas four times in the Palace. On the first,
the Aldermen of London and their children went down from the City to
perform a masque before the King, who received it well. At that moment
he was certain to receive everything well that came from the City. On
his last visit the disease broke out which killed him. Henry the Fifth
was here once, in 1414: Henry the Sixth once, in 1429. Edward the Fourth
was a second Founder, so much did he add to the buildings. Among other
things, he built a new front to the Palace and is said to have built the
Banqueting Hall itself. His festivities rivalled those of Richard the
Second. Here his daughter Bridget, afterwards a nun of Dartford, was
born. Henry the Seventh was another builder: he stayed at Eltham often.
Henry the Eighth came here once at least, but he preferred Greenwich as
a residence as soon as that house was built. Elizabeth also came here
only once or twice, preferring Greenwich, and James the First is only
recorded to have visited Eltham once. After this time Eltham ceased to
be a Palace. In 1646 Robert Earl of Essex died here[1]; the Manor was
sold after Charles's death. After the Restoration it reverted to the
Crown; the rest of the history concerns its occupancy by private
families. On the death of Charles the Palace was surveyed; it is
described as being built of brick, stone, and timber; it contained (see
p. 74) one chapel, a hall, 36 rooms and offices below stairs, with two
large cellars; and above stairs 17 lodging houses on the King's side, 12
on the Queen's side, and 9 on the Prince's side; and 78 rooms in the
offices round the courtyard, which contained one acre of ground: the
house was out of repair and uninhabitable. There were gardens attached
to the house. A moat surrounded the house, of width 60 feet, except in
the forest, where it was 115 feet. The moat still exists on the north
side, and can be traced all round. Of the buildings little remains
except the old Banqueting Hall, a truly beautiful ruin; the roof, with
its fine woodwork, is happily still standing, but shored up and
supported. The windows are mostly blocked up; fragments only remain of
the other buildings; but it is said to be possible, in the gardens at
the back, to trace out the courts and the foundations of the chapel and
offices. The Palace is approached by a bridge of about the same date as
the Palace, viz. the fourteenth century. It crosses the moat, and with
its picturesque ivy-clad arches and the Banqueting Hall on one side, and
the Court House on the other, it is as lovely an approach to the ruin as
could well be imagined or created.

[Illustration: KING JOHN'S PALACE, KENT

(_From a Drawing by J. Hassell, 1804_)]

One of the last visits of the King to Eltham was in the year 1575, when
Henry held one of the tournaments in which in his early manhood he so
much delighted. This is Holinshed's account of it:--

'After the parlement was ended, the king kept a solemne Christmasse at
his manor of Eltham; and on the Twelfe night in the hall was made a
goodlie castell, woonderouslie set out, and in it certeine ladies and
knights; and when the king and queene were set, in came other knights
and assailed the castell, where manie a good stripe was giuen; and at
the last the assailants were beaten awaie. And then issued out knights
and ladies out of the castell, which ladies were rich and strangelie
disguised; for all their apparell was in braids of gold, fret with
moouing spangls of siluer and gilt, set on crimson sattin, loose and not
fastned: the mens apparell of the same sute made like Iulis of
Hungarie; and the ladies heads and bodies were after the fashion of
Amsterdam. And when the dansing was doone, the banket was serued in of
two hundred dishes, with great plentie to euerie bodie.'

[Illustration: Remains of Eltham Palace]

There is little more to be said about Eltham, which is a place so
beautiful that it ought to have a more interesting history. Kings and
Courts delight me not, nor do I take pleasure in reading about
tournaments and masques.

There is no figure in the history of Eltham so pleasant to think upon as
that of little Prince Richard, the lovely boy who was going to become
such an extravagant King. One would like to have seen Edward
entertaining his prisoner, King John of France; and one wonders what
sort of figure was played by the Armenian Leo in the presence of
Richard's splendour: but perhaps he knew the Court of Constantinople,
and smiled at the splendour of the barbaric north.

Once more, how did they provide for the maintenance of so many guests?
To feed two thousand every day is a great undertaking. We are accustomed
to believe that the roads in winter were so bad as to be impassable.
Now, everything had to be brought there, whatever the condition of the
roads. And they were bye-roads, not high roads. The guests, too, and the
nobles and their retainers, had to arrive by those roads. As was stated
above, due notice was certainly given: a vast quantity of salt
provisions was laid down in readiness: for the rest, the country was
fertile and well cultivated. The Park contained deer--but they could not
kill all; the Thames, only three miles away--but then, the roads!--was
full of salmon and every kind of fish: the banks of the lower reaches
and those of the Ravensbourne--again, those roads!--were the homes of
myriads of wild birds. Still, one feels that the inland communications
of the fourteenth century must have been a great deal better than those
of the seventeenth century in order to allow of Christmas being kept in
magnificence and profusion by two thousand people in a country village.

[Illustration: The Moat Bridge Eltham Palace]

The views which accompany this account are taken from Lysons: they were
engraved in the year 1796. There is not much difference in the present
aspect: the moat has been opened again: the buildings represented on the
south side of the Hall have vanished: and the place itself which had
been used as a barn is now empty, and is only thrown open for visitors
or the drilling of Volunteers.


3. GREENWICH PALACE

The Green Village lying on the slope of a gentle hill, with marshes on
either side of it--the marsh of the Ravensbourne on one side, and the
Woolwich or the Greenwich marsh on the other side of it--is as old as
history itself. Its position as the landing-place, or point of approach,
to the lands of Kent, a place where ships might lie, pirates and
invaders might seize and hold as a base of operations, very early called
attention to its natural advantages. Here the Danes encamped in 1011;
here they brought the venerable Alphege and murdered him, throwing beef
bones at his head. As the throwing of bones was a favourite evening
pastime with the Danes, they probably meant little at first beyond a
friendly reminder or an invitation to take part in the game: as the
Archbishop made no response they threw the bones in earnest (see p. 72).
The people of Greenwich have long since forgotten that the place was
once a Royal Residence, and that there are historical memories connected
with Greenwich of interest almost equal to those of Westminster, and far
more important and interesting than those of Eltham.

Let us perform the perfunctory task of cataloguing some of these
memories.

In the year 1408, Henry IV. dates his will from Greenwich.

In 1417 Henry V. granted the manor for life to Thomas Beaufort, Duke of
Exeter, who afterwards died here.

In 1443 it was granted to Humphrey Duke of Gloucester, with permission
to fortify and embattle the manor house, and to enclose a park of 200
acres. This was the true beginning of Greenwich Palace. Humphrey rebuilt
the house, which he called Placentia, the House of Pleasance: he
enclosed the Park and he built a Tower on the spot where the Royal
Observatory now stands. On his death, in 1447, the place reverted to the
Crown. Edward the Fourth took great pleasure in the place and beautified
it at much cost. In 1466 he granted the Manor, Palace, and Park, to the
Queen, Elizabeth Woodville, for life. The marriage of Richard Duke of
York and Anne Mowbray was here solemnised with the usual rejoicings.

[Illustration: GREENWICH, 1662

(_From a Drawing by Jonas Moore_)]

With Henry VII. also Greenwich was a favourite place of residence. He
added a brick front on the riverside (see p. 77). Here Henry the Eighth
was born on June 28, 1491. He was baptised in the Parish Church, the
predecessor of the present church. He, too, loved Greenwich above all
other Palaces, and made it during the early years of his reign the scene
of the festivities and entertainments which he loved so much. Here he
married Katharine of Arragon on June 3, 1510. Here he held the great
tournament in which he himself, Sir Edward Howard, Charles Brandon, and
Edward Neville challenged all comers. In 1512 and in 1513 he kept
Christmas here 'with great solemnity, dancing, disguisings, and mummers
in a most princely manner.' Holinshed gives an account of two
entertainments held by the King at Greenwich--one a tournament in June,
the other at Christmas:--

'This yeare also in Iune, the king kept a solemne iustes at Greenewich,
the king & sir Charles Brandon taking vpon them to abide all commers.
First came the ladies all in white and red silke, set vpon coursers
trapped in the same sute, freated ouer with gold; after whom followed a
founteine curiouslie made of russet sattin, with eight gargils spowting
water: within the founteine sat a knight armed at all peeces. After
this founteine followed a ladie all in blacke silke dropped with fine
siluer, on a courser trapped in the same. Then followed a knight in a
horsselitter, the coursers & litter apparelled in blacke with siluer
drops. When the fountein came to the tilt, the ladies rode round about,
and so did the founteine, and the knight within the litter. And after
them were brought twi goodlie coursers apparelled for the iusts: and
when they came to the tilts end, the two knights mounted on the two
courses abiding all commers. The king was in the founteine, and sir
Charles Brandon was in the litter. Then suddenlie with great noise of
trumpets entred sir Thomas Kneuet in a castell of cole blacke, and ouer
the castell was written "The Dolorous Castell," and so he and the earle
of Essex, the lord Howard, and other ran their courses with the king and
sir Charles Brandon, and euer the king brake most speares, and likelie
was so to doo yer he began, as in former time; the prise fell to his
lot; so luckie was he and fortunat in the proofe of his prowes in
martiall actiuitie, whereto from his yong yeers he was giuen....

'After this parlement was ended, the king kept a solemne Christmasse at
Greenwich, with danses and mummeries in most princelie maner. And on the
Twelfe daie at night came into the hall a mount, called the rich mount.
The mount was set full of rich flowers of silke, and especiallie full of
broome slips full of cods, and branches were greene sattin, and the
flowers flat gold of damaske, which signified Plantagenet. On the top
stood a goodlie beacon giuing light, round about the beacon sat the king
and fiue other, all in cotes and caps of right crimson veluet,
embrodered with flat gold of damaske, their cotes set full of spangles
of gold. And foure woodhouses drew the mount till it came before the
queene, and then the king and his companie descended and dansed. Then
suddenlie the mount opened, and out came six ladies all in crimsin
sattin and plunket, embrodered with gold and pearle, with French hoods
on their heads, and they dansed alone. Then the lords of the mount
tooke the ladies and dansed togither: and the ladies reentered, and the
mount closed, and so was conueied out of the hall. Then the king shifted
him, and came to the queene, and sat at the banket, which was verie
sumptuous.'

[Illustration: GREENWICH HOSPITAL

(_From a Drawing by Schnebbelie_)]

Other tournaments were held here in 1517, 1526, and 1536.

Here Charles Brandon married Mary, Dowager Queen of France. Six or seven
times more Henry kept Christmas at Greenwich. In 1543, the last
occasion, he entertained twenty-one Scottish gentlemen, taken prisoners,
and released them without a ransom, being to the end, whatever else he
was, a Prince of most Princely gifts and graces.

Queen Mary was born at Greenwich in 1515. Cardinal Wolsey was her
godfather.

King Edward the Sixth died here.

Queen Elizabeth was born here on September 7, 1533. She, too, spent much
of her time at Greenwich.

King James also much delighted in this place: he added to the brickwork
by the riverside: he also walled the park and laid the foundations of
the house afterwards called the House of Delight. The Queen, who
received the Palace in jointure, carried on this House, which was
afterwards completed by Inigo Jones for Henrietta Maria. It was called
the King's House, the Queen's House, or the Ranger's Lodge. It was not
until 1807 that the house was granted to the Commissioners of the Royal
Naval Asylum.

Separated from town by five miles of road, and four of river, it was
thus easily accessible in all weathers and independent of the condition
of the roads. In other respects the position of the place was
unrivalled: it was on a slope rising from the river in front, and from
lowlands on either side; it was swept night and day by the sharp fresh
breeze that came up with the tide from the sea; behind it, on a high
level, lay an expanse of heath, dry and wholesome; there was no better
air to be got than the air of Greenwich; that of Eltham, with its
stagnant marsh and thick woods, was close and aguish in comparison: for
view, the broad river rolled along the Palace front and bent round to
east and west, so that one could see all the shipping in front; all in
Limehouse Reach; and all in Blackwall Reach. As the tide ebbed and
flowed, the navies and the trade of London passed up and down, outward
bound or homeward bound. Sitting at her window, or walking on her
terrace, Queen Elizabeth could for herself learn what was meant by the
foreign trade of London: what was meant by the exports and imports: she
could see every kind of ship that floats come sailing up the river,
streamers flying, dipping the peak in salute: she could understand the
coasting trade and the Flemish trade: she could ask what the hoys and
ketches, the lighters, and the barges carried up to the Port of London
in such numbers: she could herself, and often did, embark upon the
stream in summer, when the sun was sinking in the west, to see the ships
more closely and to enjoy the fresh, cool air of the river. Witness the
sad history of Thomas Appletree.

It was on the 17th day of July in the year 1579, about nine o'clock of
the evening, that an accident happened which might have had fatal
consequences. The Queen was taking the air in her private barge, between
Greenwich and Deptford. With her were the French Ambassador, the Earl of
Lincoln, and other great persons, discoursing affairs of state.
Unfortunately for themselves, four young fellows were out in a small
boat at the same time, and on the same part of the river. They were
Thomas Appletree, a young servant of Francis Carey, two singing boys of
the Queen's choir, and another. Thomas Appletree had possessed himself
of a 'caliver' or arquebus, which he was so ill advised as to load with
ball and then fire it at random up and down the river. One of these
haphazard discharges carried the bullet straight to the Queen's barge,
where it passed through both arms of the oarsman nearest Her Majesty.
The man thus unexpectedly wounded, finding himself bleeding like a
pig--for it was a flesh wound--threw himself down, bawling and roaring
out that he was murdered. The Queen comforted him with the assurance
that he should be properly cared for, and ordered the barge to be taken
back to the shore at once. The man, being treated, speedily recovered.
Meantime, who had dared to fire a gun at the Queen's barge? The question
was very quickly answered, and the Lords in Council had the four lads
brought up before them. It appearing that the only guilty person was
Thomas Appletree, the other three were suffered to depart, and Thomas
was tried. It was ascertained that there could be no question as to the
loyalty of Thomas's master, Francis Carey, therefore the whole guilt
rested on the shoulders of the unlucky serving man, whose only fault had
been foolhardiness in firing his gun at random. He was therefore
sentenced to be hanged, with the usual accompaniments, for treason.
Accordingly, on the 20th day of July he was taken from Newgate and
conducted on a hurdle with great ceremony to Tower Hill, and so through
the postern to Ratcliff, where, opposite the place where the offence was
committed, they had put up a gibbet on which the unhappy Thomas
Appletree was to be hanged. He had made a dolorous journey on his
hurdle, weeping copiously all the way, and many of the people weeping
with him. Arrived at the gallows, he mounted the ladder, and, if the
chronicler repeats faithfully, he made a most admirable use of the last
moments which remained to him. It is, indeed, truly remarkable to
observe how admirably all those who were taken out to die acquitted
themselves, whether it was a peer to be beheaded for treason, or a
Catholic priest to be hanged, drawn, and quartered for being a priest.
Appletree, for his part, spoke so movingly that the people all wept with
him. Then the hangman put the rope round the condemned man's neck, and
the bitterness of death entered into his soul. But the people cried,
'Stay! Stay!' and at that moment there came riding up the Queen's
Vice-Chamberlain, Sir Christopher Hatton. But think not that the
Vice-Chamberlain hastily proclaimed the royal pardon. Not at all. He
left Thomas on the ladder for a while; he made an oration on the
heinousness of the offence: he made everybody kneel while he prayed for
the safety of the Queen: and then, when all hearts were softened and all
eyes bedewed, he pronounced the Queen's pardon, which the prisoner
acknowledged in suitable language. Thomas Appletree was then taken back
to the Marshalsea, where he remained, one hopes, a very short time after
this. We may be quite sure that whatever destiny was in store for this
young man, shooting at random with a caliver or arquebus would have
nothing to do with it.

Another association of Greenwich is that of Sir John Willoughby's
departure for the Arctic seas. He was going to endeavour to open a new
way for trade round the N.E. Arctic sea along the north coast of Asia.
He embarked at Ratcliff Stairs: you may take boat there to this day. As
he passed down the river, with flags and streamers flying, they brought
out the little King Edward, who was dying, to see the sailing of the
stout old sailor. So with firing of guns the ships passed on their way,
and they carried the dying King back to his bed. In a day or two Edward
was dead. In six months, or it might be less, Willoughby was dead too,
frozen to death in his cabin, where the Russians found him, his dead
hand on his papers.

If you wish to know what state was kept by Queen Elizabeth at Greenwich,
you will find an account of it in Hentzner, that excellent traveller who
remarked so much, and put all down on paper.

'We arrived at the Royal Palace of Greenwich, reported to have been
originally built by Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, and to have received
very magnificent additions from Henry VII. It was here Elizabeth, the
present Queen, was born, and here she generally resides; particularly
in Summer, for the Delightfulness of its Situation. We were admitted by
an Order Mr. Rogers had procured from the Lord Chamberlain, into the
Presence-Chamber, hung with rich Tapestry, and the Floor, after the
English fashion, strewed with Hay,[2] through which the Queen commonly
passes in her way to chapel: At the Door stood a Gentleman dressed in
Velvet, with a Gold Chain, whose Office was to introduce to the Queen
any Person of Distinction, that came to wait on her: It was Sunday, when
there is usually the greatest Attendance of Nobility. In the same Hall
were the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London, a great Number
of Counsellors of State, Officers of the Crown, and Gentlemen, who
waited the Queen's coming out; which she did from her own Apartment,
when it was Time to go to Prayers, attended in the following Manner:

'First went Gentlemen, Barons, Earls, Knights of the Garter, all richly
dressed and bare-headed; next came the Chancellor, bearing the Seals in
a red-silk Purse, between Two: One of which carried the Royal Scepter,
the other the Sword of State, in a red Scabbard, studded with golden
Fleurs de Lis, the Point upwards: Next came the Queen, in the
Sixty-fifth Year of her Age, as we were told, very majestic; her Face
oblong, fair, but wrinkled; her Eyes small, yet black and pleasant; her
Nose a little hooked; her Lips narrow, and her Teeth black (a Defect the
English seem subject to, from their too great Use of Sugar): she had in
her Ears two Pearls, with very rich Drops; she wore false Hair, and that
red; upon her Head she had a small Crown, reported to be made of some of
the Gold of the celebrated Lunebourg Table:[3] Her Bosom was uncovered,
as all the English Ladies have it, till they marry; and she had on a
Necklace of exceeding fine Jewels; her Hands were small, her Fingers
long, and her Stature neither tall nor low; her Air was stately, her
Manner of Speaking mild and obliging. That Day she was dressed in white
Silk, bordered with Pearls of the Size of Beans, and over it a Mantle of
black Silk, shot with Silver Threads; her Train was very long, the End
of it borne by a Marchioness; instead of a Chain, she had an oblong
Collar of Gold and Jewels. As she went along in all this State and
Magnificence, she spoke very graciously, first to one, then to another,
whether foreign Ministers, or those who attended for different Reasons,
in English, French and Italian; for, besides being well skilled in
Greek, Latin, and the Languages I have mentioned, she is mistress of
Spanish, Scotch, and Dutch: Whoever speaks to her, it is kneeling; now
and then she raises some with her Hand. While we were there, W. Slawata,
a Bohemian Baron, had Letters to present to her; and she, after pulling
off her Glove, gave him her right Hand to kiss, sparkling with Rings and
Jewels, a Mark of particular Favour: Where-ever she turned her Face, as
she was going along, everybody fell down on their Knees.[4] The Ladies
of the Court followed next to her, very handsome and well-shaped, and
for the most Part dressed in white; she was guarded on each Side by the
Gentlemen Pensioners, fifty in Number, with gilt Battleaxes. In the
Antichapel next the Hall where we were, Petitions were presented to her,
and she received them most graciously, which occasioned the Acclamation
of, Long live Queen ELIZABETH! She answered with, I thank you, my good
PEOPLE. In the Chapel was excellent Music; as soon as it and the Service
was over, which scarce exceeded half an hour, the Queen returned in the
same State and Order, and prepared to go to Dinner. But while she was
still at Prayers, we saw her Table set out with the following Solemnity.

'A Gentleman entered the Room bearing a Rod, and along with him another
who had a Table-cloth, which, after they had both kneeled three Times
with the utmost Veneration, he spread upon the Table, and after kneeling
again they both retired. Then came two others, one with the Rod again,
the other with a Salt-seller, a Plate and Bread; when they had kneeled,
as the others had done, and placed what was brought upon the Table, they
too retired with the same Ceremonies performed by the first. At last
came an unmarried Lady (we were told she was a Countess), and along with
her a married one, bearing a Tasting-knife; the former was dressed in
white Silk, who, when she had prostrated herself three Times, in the
most graceful Manner, approached the Table, and rubbed the Plates with
Bread and Salt with as much Awe as if the Queen had been present: When
they had waited there a little while, the Yeomen of the Guard entered,
bare-headed, cloathed in Scarlet, with a golden Rose upon their Backs,
bringing in at each Turn a Course of twenty-four Dishes, served in
plate, most of it Gilt; these Dishes were received by a Gentleman in the
same Order they were brought, and placed upon the Table, while the
Lady-taster gave to each of the Guards a mouthful to eat, of the
particular dish he had brought, for Fear of any Poison. During the Time
that this Guard, which consists of the tallest and stoutest Men that can
be found in all England, being carefully selected for this Service, were
bringing Dinner, twelve Trumpets and two Kettle-drums made the Hall ring
for Half an Hour together. At the end of this Ceremonial a Number of
unmarried Ladies appeared, who, with particular solemnity, lifted the
Meat off the Table, and conveyed it into the Queen's inner and more
private Chamber, where, after she had chosen for herself, the rest goes
to the Ladies of the Court.

'The Queen dines and sups alone, with very few Attendants; and it is
very seldom that any Body, Foreigner or Native, is admitted at that
Time, and then only at the Intercession of somebody in Power.'

On the Restoration, Charles at first resolved to pull down the Palace
and build it anew. For this purpose he consulted various persons, and
after many delays began the building. He only succeeded, however, in
erecting what is now the west wing of the Hospital. But it never again
became a Royal Residence. In 1694, the Palace was converted into a
Hospital for the Royal Navy. This splendid institution, one of the
glories of Great Britain, and a standing monument of the nation's
gratitude to her sailors, and an ever present invitation to enter the
navy, was closed, with that stupid indifference to sentiment which so
often distinguishes the acts of our Government, in the year 1870.


4. LAMBETH PALACE

[Illustration: Lambeth Palace]

The now huge town of Lambeth presents few points of interest either to
the visitor or to the historian. There are no buildings of any antiquity
except the Palace and the Church. There are no modern buildings at all
worth notice. There have been two or three memorable houses which we
shall do well to touch upon: but they are not so memorable as to deserve
long description. The Bishops of Rochester had a house in the Marsh--the
site is in Carlisle Place, Westminster Road, at the back of St. Thomas's
Hospital, close to Lambeth Palace. It was in this house that, in 1531, a
wretched man named Robert Roose, in the Bishop's service as cook,
wilfully, as was alleged, poisoned a large number of people, and was
boiled to death in oil--the only instance, I believe, of this dreadful
punishment. The wretched man was tied naked to a post and slowly lowered
into the boiling fluid. Fisher was the last Bishop of Rochester who
lived in this house. The buildings, with losses and additions, existed
in some form or other till 1827. The house, indeed, had a strangely
chequered history. The Bishop of Rochester exchanged it with the Crown
for a house thought more convenient in Southwark, close to Winchester
House. The Crown gave it to the Bishop of Carlisle, who seems to have
let it on lease: thus it lost its ecclesiastical character altogether
and became given over to entirely secular uses. It was at one time a
pottery: then a tavern, and even a notorious and disorderly house: then
a dancing master taught his accomplishments in the house: then it became
a school. Finally, the gardens were built over, the operations
disclosing many interesting gates and 'bits.'

Another house was that belonging to the Duke of Norfolk: it was called
Norfolk House, and it stood on the other side of the Palace, on the site
now marked by Paradise Street. Here lived the old Duke whose life was
saved by the death of Henry the Eighth; here was brought up the
accomplished Earl of Surrey whose life would have been saved had Henry
died a few days earlier. Leland, the antiquary and scholar, was the
Earl's tutor. The widow of Dr. Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury,
obtained the house. Her heirs ceased to live in it; the house was
neglected, probably because no tenant could be found for it. Finally, it
was pulled down. It is interesting to note the town houses which stood
upon the Bank from Rotherhithe to Battersea: that of the Prior of Lewes;
of Sir John Fastolfe; of the Augustines; the House of St. Mary Overies;
Winchester House; Rochester House; Norfolk House; and later, the house
of the St. Johns at Battersea. There are none between Bankside and
Lambeth; that part of the Embankment which lies between Blackfriars and
Westminster Bridge has no history and no associations.

[Illustration: BONNER HALL, LAMBETH]

Another noteworthy Lambeth house was that called Copt Hall, afterwards
Vauxhall, situated opposite to the gardens afterwards called Vauxhall.
In this house the unfortunate Arabella Stuart lived for a time. A good
deal might be written about Copt Hall, but not in this place.

The houses of the Archbishop, the Bishop of Rochester, and the Duke of
Norfolk stood close together and clustered round the church. The reason
was the necessity of building on or near to the Embankment. Exactly
opposite the south porch of the church may be observed a small and
somewhat decayed street grandly called the High. The name and the
situation close to the church indicate an individual and separate
existence of the town or village of Lambeth, of which this was the
principal street and the centre. The village, in fact, did exist from
very early times; its population for the most part earned their
livelihood as Thames fishermen. They were the lineal successors of that
fortunate Edric to whom St. Peter appeared when he consecrated the
Abbey. There was another colony of Thames fishermen lower down the river
on Bermondsey Wall. When William the Conqueror is said to have burned
Southwark it was the fishermen's cottages which he destroyed. None of
these lived between Bankside and Westminster, which is proved by the
fact that there is no church near the river wall at that place. The
Thames fishermen lingered on, though the fishery grew poorer, until
about 1820, when they were reduced to a single court in Lambeth. The
place is described as mean and rickety, with neither paving nor lamps;
the woodwork of the cottages broken; the roofs burst and tottering; the
windows stuffed with rags or mended with paper; the children in rags;
the court a receptacle for everything.

Lambeth as it is has mostly sprung into existence in the nineteenth
century, during which its population has been actually multiplied by
ten, and more than ten, rising from 27,000 in 1801 to 295,000 in 1891,
an enormous increase. The principal reason of this development is the
introduction of a great many industries--potteries, vinegar factories,
distilleries, salt warehouses, bottle factories, and so forth.

Lambeth certainly cannot be called a beautiful town nor a desirable
place of residence. The perambulator looks about in vain for streets
noble, striking or picturesque; he looks in vain for houses beautiful or
ancient; there is nothing to reward him. Old houses there were before
the great increase began, but they exist no more; the place is dull; in
parts it is dirty; everywhere it is without character or distinction.
It has, however, a pretty park called after the famous Vauxhall Gardens,
on whose site it stands. The park is new, but it is well laid out and
planted; already it is a pretty piece of greenery, and, with Kennington
and Battersea Parks, offers a much wanted breathing place for the
multitudes of that quarter. It is adorned, or enriched, or ennobled, by
a statue of Henry Fawcett, who died in a house on this spot. The
statesman, attired in a costume strictly of the period, is sitting in a
chair, pretending not to be aware that behind him stands an angel with
outstretched wings, crowning him with laurel. He is obviously
embarrassed by the situation. He feels that he ought to be dressed in
some kind of Court costume--if he knew what--in order to receive the
angel; or the angel might have assumed a frock coat in compliment to the
statesman. The wings were probably in the way.

[Illustration: RESIDENCE OF GUY FAWKES, LAMBETH

(_From 'La Belle Assemblée,' Nov. 1822_)]

Lambeth Palace, whose history I am not going to narrate, plays a very
considerable part in the History of England. In 1232 and in 1234,
Parliament was held here. In 1261 and 1280 Councils were held here. In
1412 Archbishop Arundell, the kindly Christian who was so anxious to
burn heretics, issued from this Palace a condemnation as heretical of a
great many opinions, insomuch that it became obviously dangerous to have
any opinions at all. This, however, was the condition of mind most
desired by the Church of Arundell's time and of his views. It is
needless to recount the many occasions when Kings and Queens were
entertained at Lambeth Palace. Cardinal Pole died here. It was sometimes
a prison. Queen Elizabeth entrusted to the care of the Archbishop at
Lambeth, Bishops Tonstal and Thirlby, the Earl of Essex, the Earl of
Southampton, Lord Stourton, and many others, who were kept in honourable
confinement, not in dungeons or cells, but each in his own chamber.

[Illustration: BISHOP'S WALK, LAMBETH]

[Illustration: INTERIOR OF THE HALL, LAMBETH PALACE

(_From an Engraving dated 1804_)]

That there were prisons in every Episcopal Palace was necessary at a
time when the clergy could only be tried in Ecclesiastical Courts, so
that the Bishops could not send their criminous clerks to an ordinary
prison. Hence it is that we frequently read of a priest brought before
an Ecclesiastical Court, but we do not learn what became of him. He was
consigned to the prison of the House. When the Lollards inveighed
against the corruption of ecclesiastics they accused the Bishops of too
great leniency towards their delinquents and prisoners. In some cases,
no doubt, the ecclesiastical prison was used to save a prisoner from the
worst consequences of his offence. For instance, a heretic handed over
to the secular arm had by law to be burned. Let us endeavour to believe
that in the Archbishop's prison cells of Lambeth there were many who
might have been burned but for the humanity which sometimes overrode
even Ecclesiastical ruthlessness.

[Illustration: LAMBETH PALACE, FROM THE RIVER]

It is recorded in Archbishop Arundell's Register (Cave-Browne, 'Lambeth
Palace,' p. 710) that he sent for a Chaplain out of his prisons below
his manor house at Lambeth. The Chaplain was a preacher licensed by the
Archbishop who yet carried about with him a concubine. No doubt the poor
man regarded her as his wife, and so called her, as thousands of the
clergy did, and were held blameless by the people for so doing.

The Palace either contains, or has at some time contained, the work of
nearly every Archbishop in succession. For a full and complete history
of the buildings, which would be outside the limits of the present
chapter, the reader is referred to the pleasant pages of the Rev. J.
Cave-Browne, called 'Lambeth and its Associations.'

[Illustration: LOLLARDS' TOWER, LAMBETH PALACE]

It is impossible to determine when the building of Lambeth Palace began.
One thing is certain, that it has always been an Ecclesiastical Palace.
The manor of Lambeth belonged to the Lady Guda, sister of Edward the
Confessor. In Domesday Book the manor contained thirty-nine men, who
with their families probably represented a population of about 200. They
had a church, which stood on the site of the present church. Observe how
all the old churches belonging to the Marsh stand on the
Embankment--Rotherhithe; St. Olave's; Lambeth; Battersea. Guda, wife of
Eustace, Count of Boulogne, gave the manor to the Bishop and convent of
Rochester, reserving the church. Harold, it is said, took it from the
Bishop; it was seized by William the Conqueror. William Rufus restored
it to Rochester and added the patronage of the Church. In 1197 Hubert,
Archbishop of Canterbury, gave the manor of Dartford to the Bishop and
convent of Rochester, in exchange for Lambeth. Having got possession of
the place, Hubert set to work to improve it. He obtained a weekly market
and an annual fair; the latter continued till the year 1757.

What Hubert built here is uncertain, but it is certain that he did build
some kind of residence. Stephen Langton added other buildings; Boniface,
A.D. 1260, found the buildings in great need of repair or insufficient.
He was the first considerable builder of Lambeth. One may make a fair
guess at the work of Boniface. We may consider it by the light afforded
by the monastic Houses--this was not a monastery, but there was
certainly something of the monastic spirit about the House. We may also
take it for granted that certain essential parts of the building, though
they might be rebuilt with greater splendour, would not change their
position. For instance, when in after years we find a chapel, a
cloister, a water-tower, or entrance from the river, and a gate-tower,
or entrance from the land--then these things existed from the first.
Boniface, therefore, found a chapel in the north-west corner of the
Palace, where it still stands; on the west side of the chapel he found a
water-tower with a gate opening upon a creek of the river by which
everything was received into the House, the door of communication with
the outer world, while the Archbishop's barges and boats lay moored up
the creek. South of the chapel Boniface either built or rebuilt the
cloisters; south of the cloisters he built or rebuilt his Hall. A Hall
was absolutely necessary for a great house, and for an Archbishop's
Palace it must be a splendid Hall. What is now called the Guard Room was
probably at first part of the Archbishop's private apartments.

[Illustration: Doorway in the Lollard's Tower]

A list of the rooms then in the Palace was made in 1321. At that time
there was the Archbishop's private Chapel, his Chamber, his Hall, the
Chancellor's Chambers, the Great Chapel, the Great Gate, and certain
minor apartments--a modest list, but the dormitories and principal
bedchambers are not enumerated, nor is any mention made of the Library,
the offices, the cells, or the Main Gate, all of which must have been
there.

Then we come to the later works, of which there are more than we need
set down--are they not written in Ducarel the Laborious and in
Cave-Browne the Life-giver to the dust and ashes of ancient facts? The
principal gateway as we now see it is the fifteenth century work of
Cardinal Morton; it is built in the same style as the gateway of St.
John's College, Cambridge, but is much larger and finer; with the
Church, it forms a most effective group of buildings. The present Water
Tower was built by Archbishop Chicheley, but on the site of an older
tower; it contained, as I have said, the water gate--that is to say, the
real gate of communication with the world. To this gate came all the
visitors--Kings and Cardinals, Legates, Bishops and Ambassadors; and to
this gate came the barges with supplies for my Lord's table. Cranmer is
said to have built the small tower at the north-east of the Chapel.
Cardinal Pole, who died here, built the Long Gallery, and probably the
piazza that supported it. Laud built the smaller tower on the south face
of the Chicheley Tower. Let us remark here that the Tower never had any
connection with Lollards, and that all the talk about the unhappy
Lollard prisoners is without foundation.

[Illustration: LOLLARDS' PRISON]

Juxon, who found the Palace a 'heap of ruins,' spent his three years of
occupancy and 15,000_l._ of his own money in restoring the place for the
honour and splendour of the Church. As for what has been done since that
time, especially by Archbishop Howley, it all belongs to the detailed
history of the Palace. It is sufficient here to note that the Palace is
a worthy House to-day, as it was five hundred years ago, for the
residence of the Primate. He belongs still, as his Roman Catholic
predecessors, to a Church whose members love some splendour in their
ecclesiastical Princes, just as they love splendour in their churches
and stateliness in their ritual. They do not desire to make a Bishop
rich: they do desire that a Bishop should not be hampered by narrow
circumstances: they desire that he should be able to take the lead in
all good works. In ancient times, the Bishop rode or sat in splendid
state: he sat every day at a table loaded with costly and luxurious
food: outwardly he was clothed with silken robes. But he touched nothing
that was set before him: he lived hardly and abstemiously: and he wore
next his skin a hair shirt: and for greater self-denial he suffered his
hair shirt to be full of vermin. That was the ideal Bishop of mediæval
times. Our own is much the same: a simple life: a splendid house: modest
wants: a large income: for himself no luxuries: and an open hand. Such a
house: such an income: we have always given to an Archbishop, whether of
the old or of the Reformed Faith.

The Chapel has at least one memory which will always cling to it. Within
its dark and gloomy crypt Anne Boleyn, brought from the Tower, stood to
hear her sentence. She was to be burned to death as an adulteress. I am
not qualified by study of the case or by education in the weighing of
evidence to pronounce an opinion as to her innocence. I believe that
those who have examined into the case are of opinion that Anne Boleyn
fell a victim to the King's jealousy: to his change of mind towards her:
and to her own foolish frivolity. However, in the crypt she was
persuaded into making some sort of avowal of a previous betrothal, in
return for which she was spared the agonies of the stake. I have
sometimes thought that the King must have thought her guilty, otherwise
he would have divorced her on a charge of adultery, and suffered her to
live. If he did not believe her guilty, how could he, being, above all
things, a man of human passions, have sentenced the woman whom he had
once loved to so horrible a death?

Let us note, however, that our ancestors did not regard death by burning
with quite the same horror as is now common. There is a story of
Rogers--or Bradford--the martyr. Some one once begged his intercession
to save a woman from burning. 'It is a gentle mode of death,' he
replied. 'Then,' said the other, 'I hope that you yourself will some day
have your hands full of this gentle death.' Punishment was meant to be
painful: the least painful form of death was that accorded to the
noble--to be beheaded. If a man died by the executioner, it was expected
that he should suffer. Death, in all forms, meant suffering. In disease
and in old age men suffered torture as bad as any inflicted by the
executioner.

I am not excusing Henry. I am only pleading that he must have believed
in Anne's guilt or he could not possibly have allowed such a sentence;
and that cruel as it seems to us, it did not seem so cruel at that time.
There is, however, no more sorrowful story in the whole long History of
England, which is, alas! so full of sorrow and of tragedy, than that of
Anne Boleyn.

Lambeth Palace, the only palace in the whole of South London, is a
monument of English History from the twelfth century downwards.
Kennington appears at intervals; Eltham is a holiday house; Greenwich
practically begins with the Tudors. Lambeth, like Westminster or St.
Paul's, belongs to the long history of the English people. It is a place
little known: of the millions now, in the circle of the Greater London,
how many, I should like to ask, have ever seen the interior? Of the vast
population of Lambeth, Battersea, and Kennington, of which it is the
centre, how many, I wonder, know anything at all about its history or
its buildings?

Of those who daily go up and down the river, who come and go across the
Bridge, and suffer their careless and unobservant eyes to rest for a
moment on the grey walls and Tower of the Palace, how many are there who
know, or inquire, or care for the wealth of history that clings to every
stone?

FOOTNOTES:

[1] At Eltham House, the lodge in the Great Park.

[2] He probably means rushes.

[3] At this distance of time, it is difficult to say what this was.

[4] Her Father had been treated with the same Deference. It is mentioned
by Fox in his 'Acts and Monuments,' that when the Lord Chancellor went
to apprehend Queen Catherine Parr, he spoke to the King on his Knees.
King James I. suffered his Courtiers to omit it.



CHAPTER V

PAGEANTS AND RIDINGS


The part which Processions of all kinds played in the mediæval life is
so great that one must inquire how Southwark fared in this respect.
Where Bishops, Abbots, and great Lords lived there were Processions
whenever one arrived or one departed. If the Bishop of Winchester went
to the King's House at Winchester, it was with a great Procession of
followers, chaplains, priests, secretaries, and gentlemen. If the Earl
of Suffolk arrived at his town house, it was with a gallant company of
gentlemen wearing his livery. If the King kept his Christmas at Eltham,
he would be preceded by an endless train of carts groaning and grumbling
along the road, filled with household gear and followed by the troops of
scullions, cooks, grooms and lavenders whose duty was in the kitchens,
stables, laundries, and pantries. He himself rode with a royal regiment,
sometimes 4,000 strong, of archers for his bodyguard, besides the
nobles, Bishops and Abbots who were with him for the Christmas
festivities. The town itself had its Processions: the annual march of
the Fraternity to church: the departure and the arrival of the pilgrims;
the Ecclesiastical Functions of Church and Monastic House. As for the
royal pageants and the Lord Mayor's Ridings, it must be confessed that
Southwark got but the beginning: that part of the pageant which began at
London Bridge: and that the place itself was quite passed by and
unconsidered.

Since, however, Southwark did witness that part, I have drawn up a short
series of notes on the sights of which the Borough took a share.

Thus, when Richard the Second restored the City privileges in 1392, he
was met by four hundred of the citizens, all mounted and clad in the
same livery: they invited him to ride to Westminster through London.

'The request having been granted, he pursued his journey to Southwark,
where, at St. George's Church, he was met by a procession of the Bishop
of London and all the religious of every degree and both sexes, and
about five hundred boys in surplices. At London Bridge a beautiful white
steed and a milk-white palfrey, both saddled, bridled, and caparisoned
in cloth of gold, were presented to the King and Queen. The citizens
received them, standing in their liveries on each side the street,
crying, "King Richard, King Richard!"'

The rest of the pageant belongs to the City and to North London. Again,
on the return of the victorious Henry the Fifth from France there was a
splendid Pageant, of which the South got some part, namely, the
following:

'On the King's return after the glorious field of Agincourt, the Mayor
of London and the Aldermen, apparelled in orient grained scarlet, and
four hundred commoners clad in beautiful murrey, well mounted and trimly
horsed, with rich collars and great chains, met the King at Blackheath;
and the clergy of London in solemn procession, with rich crosses,
sumptuous copes, and massy censers, received him at St. Thomas of
Waterings. The King, like a grave and sober personage, and as one who
remembered from Whom all victories are sent, seemed little to regard the
vain pomp and shows, insomuch that he would not suffer his helmet to be
carried with him, whereby the blows and dents upon it might have been
seen by the people, nor would he suffer any ditties to be made and sung
by minstrels of his glorious victory, because he would the praise and
thanks should be altogether given to God.

'At the entrance of London Bridge, on the top of the tower, stood a
gigantic figure, bearing in his right hand an axe, and in his left the
keys of the City hanging to a staff, as if he had been the porter. By
his side stood a female of scarcely less stature, intended for his wife.
Around them were a band of trumpets and other wind instruments. The
towers were adorned with banners of the royal arms, and in the front of
them was inscribed CIVITAS REGIS JUSTICIE (the City of the King of
Righteousness).

'At the drawbridge on each side was erected a lofty column like a little
tower, built of wood and covered with linen; one painted like white
marble, and the other like green jasper. They were surmounted by figures
of the King's beasts--an antelope, having a shield of the royal arms
suspended from his neck, and a sceptre in his right foot; and a lion,
bearing in his right claw the royal standard unfurled.

'At the foot of the bridge next the city was raised a tower, formed and
painted like the columns before mentioned, in the middle of which, under
a splendid pavilion, stood a most beautiful image of St. George, armed,
excepting his head, which was adorned with a laurel crown studded with
gems and precious stones. Behind him was a crimson tapestry, with his
arms (a red cross) glittering on a multitude of shields. On his right
hung his triumphal helmet, and on his left a shield of his arms of
suitable size. In his right hand he held the hilt of the sword with
which he was girt, and in his left a scroll, which, extending along the
turrets, contained these words, SOLI DEO HONOR ET GLORIA. In a
contiguous house were innumerable boys representing the angelic host,
arrayed in white, with glittering wings, and their hair set with sprigs
of laurel; who, on the King's approach, sang, accompanied by organs, an
anthem, supposed to be that beginning "Our King went forth to Normandy;"
and whose burthen is "Deo gratias, Anglia, redde pro victoria."'

When Henry VI. returned after his coronation in 1432--

'On returning from his Coronation in France King Henry the Sixth was met
at Blackheath by the Mayor and citizens of London, on Feb. 21, 1431-2;
the latter being dressed in white, with the cognizances of their
mysteries or crafts embroidered on their sleeves; and the Mayor and his
brethren in scarlet.

'When the King came to London Bridge, there was devised a mighty giant,
standing with a sword drawn, and having this poetical speech inscribed
by his side:

    'All those that be enemies to the King,
      I shall them clothe with confusion,
    Make him mighty by virtuous living,
      His mortal foes to oppress and bear them down:
      And him to increase as Christ's champion.
    All mischiefs from him to abridge,
    With grace of God, at the entry of this Bridge.

'When the King had passed the first gate, and was arrived at the
drawbridge, he found a goodly tower hung with silk and cloth of arras,
out of which suddenly appeared three ladies, clad in gold and silk, with
coronets upon their heads; of which the first was dame Nature, the
second dame Grace, and the third dame Fortune. They each addressed the
King in verses similar to those already quoted, and which, together with
those which followed, the curious will find in their place. On each side
of them were ranged seven virgins, all clothed in white; those on the
right hand had baudricks of sapphire colour or blue, and the others had
their garments powdered with golden stars. The first seven presented the
King with the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost--sapience, intelligence,
good counsel, strength, cunning, pity, and dread of God: and the others
with the seven gifts of grace, in these verses:

    'God thee endow with a crown of glory,
    And with the sceptre of clemency and pity,
    And with a sword of might and victory,
    And with a mantle of prudence clad thou be,
    A shield of faith for to defend thee,
    A helm of health wrought to thine increase,
    Girt with a girdle of love and perfect peace.

'After which they sang a roundel, the burthen of which was "Welcome out
of France."'

The Pageant which welcomed Queen Margaret of Anjou on her Coronation
presented, first, at the Bridge Foot at Southwark, 'Peace and plenty,'
with the motto 'Ingredimini et replete terram,'--Enter ye and replenish
the earth--and the following verses were recited:

    Most Christian Princesse, by influence of grace,
      Doughter of Jherusalem, owr pleasaunce
    And joie, welcome as ever Princess was,
      With hert entier, and hoole affiaunce:
      Cawser of welthe, ioye, and abundaunce,
    Youre Citee, yowr people, your subgets all,
      With hert, with worde, with dede, your highnesse to avaunce,
    Welcome! Welcome! Welcome! vnto you call.
    .   .   .   .   .   .   .

Upon the Bridge itself appeared Noah's Ark, with the words, 'Jam non
ultra irascar super terram' (Genesis viii. 21), and the following verses
were addressed to the Queen:

    So trustethe your people, with assurance
      Throwghe yowr grace, and highe benignitie.
    'Twixt the Realms two, England and Fraunce,
      Pees shall approche, rest and vnite:
    Mars set asyde with all his crueltye,
      Whiche too longe hathe trowbled the Realmes twayne;
    Byndynge yowr comfortem in this adversite,
      Most Christian Princesse owr Lady Soverayne.
    Right as whilom, by God's myght and grace,
      Noe this arke dyd forge and ordayne;
    Wherein he and his might escape and passe
      The flood of vengeance caused by trespasse:
    Conveyed aboute as God list him to gye,
      By meane of mercy found a restinge place
    After the flud, vpon this Armonie.
    Vnto the Dove that browght the braunche of peas,
      Resemblinge yowr symplenesse columbyne,
    Token and signe that the flood shuld cesse,
      Conducte by grace and power devyne;
    Sonne of comfort 'gynneth faire to shine
      By yowr presence whereto we synge and seyne.
    Welcome of ioye right extendet lyne
      Moste Christian Princesse, owr Lady Sovereyne.

On the marriage of Katharine of Aragon with Prince Arthur there was a
great Pageant. The part at the south entrance of the Bridge is thus
described:

'It consisted of a tabernacle of two floors, resembling two roodlofts;
in the lower of which sat a fair young lady with a wheel in her hand, in
likeness of Saint Katherine, with many virgins on every side of her; and
in the higher story was another lady, in likeness of Saint Ursula, also
with a great multitude of virgins right goodly dressed and arrayed.
Above all was a representation of the Trinity. On each side of both
stories was one small square tabernacle, with proper vanes, and in every
square was a garter with this poesy in French, _Onye soit que male
pens_, inclosing a red rose. On the tops of these tabernacles were six
angels, casting incense on the Trinity, and the two Saints. The outer
walls were painted with hanging curtains of cloth of tissue, blue and
red; and at some distance before the pageant were set two great posts,
painted with the three ostrich feathers, red roses, and portcullisses,
and surmounted by a lion rampant, holding a vane painted with the arms
of England. The whole work was carved with timber, and was gilt and
painted with biss and azure.'

The next Pageant that passed through Southwark was that of Charles the
Second at his Restoration:

'On the 29th of May, 1660, the Lord Mayor and Aldermen met the King at
St. George's Fields in Southwark, and the former, having delivered the
City sword to his Majesty, had the same returned with the honour of
knighthood. A very magnificent tent was erected in the Fields, provided
with a sumptuous collation, of which the King participated. He then
proceeded towards London, which was pompously adorned with the richest
silks and tapestry, and the streets lined with the City Corporations and
trained bands; while the conduits flowed with a variety of delicious
wines, and the windows, balconies, and scaffolds were crowded with such
an infinite number of spectators, as if the whole collective body of the
people had been assembled to grace the Royal Entry.

'The procession was chiefly composed of the military. First marched a
gallant troop of gentlemen in cloth of silver, brandishing their swords,
and led by Major-General Brown; then another troop of two hundred in
velvet coats, with footmen and liveries attending them, in purple; a
third led by Alderman Robinson, in buff coats with cloth of silver
sleeves and very rich green scarfs; a troop of about two hundred, with
blue liveries laid with silver, with six trumpeters, and several
footmen, in sea-green and silver; another of two hundred and twenty,
with thirty footmen in grey and silver liveries, and four trumpeters
richly habited; another of an hundred and five, with grey liveries, and
six trumpets; and another of seventy, with five trumpets; and then three
troops more, two of three hundred and one of one hundred, all gloriously
habited, and gallantly mounted. After these came two trumpets with his
Majesty's arms; the Sheriffs' men, in number fourscore, in red cloaks,
richly laced with silver, with half-pikes in their hands. Then followed
six hundred of the several Companies of London on horseback, in black
velvet coats, with gold chains, each Company having footmen in different
liveries, with streamers, &c.; after whom came kettle-drums and
trumpets, with streamers, and after them twelve ministers (clergymen) at
the head of his Majesty's life-guard of horse, commanded by Lord
Gerrard. Next the City Marshal, with eight footmen in various colours,
with the City Waits and Officers in order; then the two Sheriffs with
all the Aldermen in their scarlet gowns and rich trappings, with footmen
in liveries, red coats laid with silver, and cloth of gold; the heralds
and maces in rich coats; the Lord Mayor bare-headed, carrying the
sword, with his Excellency the General (Monk) and the Duke of
Buckingham, also uncovered; and then, as the lustre to all this splendid
triumph, rode the King himself between his Royal brothers the Dukes of
York and Gloucester. Then followed a troop of horse with white colours;
the General's life-guard, led by Sir Philip Howard, and another troop of
gentry; and, last of all, five regiments of horse belonging to the army,
with back, breast, and head-pieces: which, it is remarked, "diversified
the show with delight and terror."'

On November 26, 1697, after the Peace of Ryswick, William the Third made
a triumphant entry into London:

'He came from Greenwich about ten o'clock, in his coach, with Prince
George and the Earl of Scarbrough, attended by four score other coaches,
each drawn by six horses. The Archbishop of Canterbury came next to the
King, the Lord Chancellor after him, then the Dukes of Norfolk, Devon,
Southampton, Grafton, Shrewsbury, and all the principal noblemen. Some
companies of Foot Grenadiers went before, the Horse Grenadiers followed,
as did the Horse Life-Guards and some of the Earl of Oxford's Horse; the
Gentlemen of the Band of Pensioners were in Southwark, but did not march
on foot; the Yeomen of the Guard were about the King's coach.

'On St. Margaret's Hill in Southwark the Lord Mayor met his Majesty,
where, on his knees, he delivered the sword, which his Majesty returned,
ordering him to carry it before him. Then Mr. Recorder made a speech
suitable to the occasion, after which the cavalcade commenced.

'A detachment of about one hundred of the City Trained Bands, in buff
coats and red feathers in their hats, preceded; then followed two of the
King's coaches, and one of Prince George's; then two City Marshals on
horseback, with their six men on foot in new liveries; the six City
Trumpets on horseback; the Sheriff's Officers on foot with their
halberds and javelins in their hands; the Lord Mayor's Officers in
black gowns; the City Officers on horseback, each attended by a servant
on foot, viz.: the four Attorneys, the Solicitor and Remembrancer, the
two Secondaries, the Comptroller, the Common Pleaders, the two Judges,
the Town Clerk, the Common Serjeant, and the Chamberlain. Then came the
Water Bailiff on horseback, carrying the City banner; the Common Crier
and the Sword-bearer, the last in his gown of black damask and gold
chain; each with a servant; then those who had fined for Sheriffs or
Aldermen, or had served as such, according to their seniority, in
scarlet, two and two, on horseback; the two Sheriffs on horseback, with
their gold chains and white staffs, with two servants apiece; the
Aldermen below the chair on horseback, in scarlet, each attended by his
Beadle and two servants; the Recorder, in scarlet, on horseback, with
two servants; and the Aldermen above the chair, in scarlet, on
horseback, wearing their gold chains, each attended by his Beadle and
four servants. Then followed the State all on horseback, uncovered,
viz.: the Knight Marshall with a footman on each side; then the
kettle-drums, the Drum-Major, the King's Trumpets, the Serjeant Trumpet
with his mace; after followed the Pursuivants at Arms, Heralds of Arms,
Kings of Arms, with the Serjeants at Arms on each side, bearing their
maces, all bare-headed, and each attended with a servant. Then the Lord
Mayor of London on horseback, in a crimson velvet gown, with a collar
and jewel, bearing the City sword by his Majesty's permission, with four
footmen in liveries; Clarenceux King at Arms supplying the place of
Garter King at Arms on his right hand, and one of the Gentleman Ushers
supplying the place of the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod on his left
hand, each with two servants. Then came his Majesty in a rich coach,
followed by a strong party of Horseguards; and the Nobility, Judges,
&c., according to their ranks and qualities, there being between two
and three hundred coaches, each with six horses.'

On September 20, 1714, George the First was received by the Mayor and
Corporation at St. Margaret's Hill, Southwark, with much the same state
as that of William III. seventeen years before.

The Lord Mayor's Pageants, of which there were so many, had nothing to
do with Southwark at all, except when they were water processions, in
which case they could be seen as well from the South as from the North.
But, in fact, Southwark was wholly disregarded in all these Pageants.
The sovereign rode through the City, not through Southwark. Why should
the place be regarded at all? Practically, as has been shown over and
over again, it consisted of nothing at all but a causeway and an
embankment, and what was once a broad Marsh drained and divided into
fields and gardens and woods.

I have set down what royal processions Southwark was permitted to see,
but I do not suppose that among the four hundred citizens who went out
in one livery to meet King Richard there was one man from Southwark, nor
do I suppose that when nine hundred and sixty citizens, each man
carrying a silver cup, rode through London with the Coronation
procession, there was a single man from the quarter south of London
Bridge. In other words, although in course of time there was
appointed--never elected--an Alderman of the Bridge Without, at no time
in these Pageants or in these functions was Southwark ever regarded as
part of the City, nor were her wishes consulted or her interests
considered.

One Pageant alone--that of our own time--the splendid Pageant of 1897,
reversed this position. As is well known, the Procession which
celebrated the Sixty Years' Reign passed through the Borough as well as
the City.



CHAPTER VI

A FORGOTTEN WORTHY


I have to speak of a 'worthy' of Southwark who is only now remembered by
the curious as the alleged original of Sir John Falstaff. If Shakespeare
drew his incomparable knight from a portrait of Sir John Fastolf, then
one can only say that the portrait in no single particular resembled the
original. Sir John Fastolf was a great and, on the whole, a successful
soldier who spent forty years fighting and commanding in France.
Shakespeare's knight was unwarlike, even cowardly; fat: a frequenter of
taverns and of low company, with no dignity and no authority. The only
point that may lend colour to the theory that Fastolf was Falstaff lies
in the fact that Fastolf was accused of cowardice at a certain battle,
one of the many which he fought: and that on his return from France, the
English, exasperated at their losses, laid the blame as they always do
upon their most distinguished soldiers. Fastolf was as unpopular in his
old age as any defeated general: there is no unpopularity so great: yet
Fastolf was never a defeated general.

Shakespeare knew no more about Fastolf than the traditional charge of
cowardice. In the First Part of 'Henry VI.' he presents him running
away:

    _Captain._ Whither away, Sir John Fastolfe, in haste?

    _Fast._ Whither away? To save myself by flight.
          We are like to have the overthrow again.

    _Captain._ What? Will you fly and leave Lord Talbot?

    _Fast._        Ay,
          All Talbots in the world to save my life.

And again in Act IV. Talbot denounces Fastolf:

    This dastard, at the Battle of Patay,
    When but in all I was six thousand strong,
    And that the French were almost ten to one,
    Before we met, or that a stroke was given,
    Like to a trusty knight, did run away.

And he tears off the Garter which Sir John was wearing.

Sir John Fastolf came of a Norfolk family; his people held the manors of
Caister and Rudham. He was born in the year 1378, and became, after the
fashion of the times, first a page to the Duke of Norfolk and next to
Thomas of Lancaster, Henry the Fourth's second son.

Caxton says that he 'exercised the wars in the royaume of France and
other countries by forty yeares enduring.' If so he must have been
fighting in France or elsewhere across the seas as early as 1400.
Perhaps he went over earlier. He was, at least, successful in getting
promotion, and promotion in a time of continuous war cannot be bestowed
on a soldier incapable or cowardly. He became Governor of Veires in
Germany and of Harfleur. He fought with distinction at Agincourt: at the
taking of Caen and at the siege of Rouen: he was Governor of
Condé-sur-Noireau and of other places, as they were taken. We find him,
for instance, the Governor of the Bastille in Paris. When Henry V. died,
in 1422, he became Master of the Household to the Duke of Bedford,
Regent of France. He was Lieutenant-Governor of Normandy and Governor of
Anjou and Maine. It is remarkable to observe that in spite of his great
services he was not knighted until 1417, when he was already forty years
of age. In 1426, he was made a Knight of the Garter. In 1429, he won the
day at the 'Battle of the Herrings,' when with a small company of
archers he put to flight an army.

His record does not lead one to expect a charge of cowardice. Yet the
charge was brought. It was after the Battle of Patay, in which Talbot
was taken prisoner and the English totally defeated. The reverse was
attributed by Talbot to the cowardly defection of Fastolf, rather than
to his own incompetence. Fastolf demanded an investigation, which was
made, with the result of his acquittal. Probably Lord Talbot persisted
in his explanation of defeat. The age, it must be confessed, was not
exactly chivalrous. The Wars of the Roses, which were about to begin,
brought to light gallant knights without truth or fidelity: perjured
princes as well as perjured barons: accusations and recriminations:
shameless desertions and changes of front. An evil time. If Lord Talbot
simply tried to shift the blame of his own defeat upon Fastolf, it would
be what other noble lords were perfectly ready to do in their anxiety to
escape responsibility in the loss of France: a disaster, as it was then
thought, which brought the greatest humiliation on the people. As for
Fastolf, he continued to receive posts of honour and distinction. Yet
the common people heard the reports brought home by the soldiers:
nothing is more easy than a charge of treachery and cowardice: they knew
nothing of the acquittal. To them Fastolf became in common talk the
coward who single-handed lost France by always running away.

After the Battle of Patay, Fastolfe became Governor of Caen: he raised
the siege of Vaudmont: took prisoner the Duc de Bar: he was twice
appointed ambassador: he fought in the army of the Duc de Bretagne
against the Duc d'Alençon: and he was ordered to draw up a report of the
war. All this does not show much confidence in Lord Talbot's accusation.

In 1440, then sixty-two years of age, he sheathed his sword, put off his
armour and returned to England. Few men could show a longer, or a finer,
record of war. In 1441 he received from the Duke of York an annuity of
£20 a year, 'pro notabili et laudabili servicio ac bono consilio.' He
spent the rest of his life partly in his house at Southwark and partly
in his castle of Caister, which he built himself: we may very well
understand that he was a man of great wealth when we read that the
castle covered five acres of land.

[Illustration: WHITE HART INN, SOUTHWARK]

These are the achievements of the man. About his private life and
character we have a great fund of information in the 'Paston Letters.'
His latest biographer ('S. L. L.' in the 'Dictionary of National
Biography') concludes from these letters that Fastolf was a 'grasping
man of business:' that he spent his old age in 'amassing wealth:' that
he was a testy neighbour: that his dependents had much to endure at his
hands. All these things may certainly be inferred from the letters. At
the same time we must consider, apart from the letters, the manners of
the age and the conditions of the age.

Let us take the charges one by one.

First, that his dependents had much to endure from him.

It was not a time when dependents spent their time as they pleased. In a
well-ordered household every man had his post and his work. An old
Knight who had fought for forty years and commanded armies was not at
all likely to be a master of a soft and indulgent kind. There is no
greater disciplinarian than the old soldier: no household is more
sternly ruled than his. This man had not only commanded armies, he had
governed provinces, cities, castles: he had wielded despotic authority:
he had found it necessary to master every branch of human activity,
including the law and the chicanery of lawyers: as the general in
command or the Governor of the Province considered the interests of his
master the King before everything, so Fastolf expected his dependents to
consider his interests as before everything else. The stern old Captain,
I can very well believe, looked to every one of his dependents for his
share of work, and I can also very well believe that they feared him as
the masterful man is always feared.

One of these dependents calls him 'cruel and vengeful.' But he gives no
reasons.

[Illustration: SURREY END OF LONDON BRIDGE, FROM HIGH STREET, SOUTHWARK]

One does not carry on war for forty years in the midst of spies,
traitors, robbers, and all the villainy of a camp without becoming stern
and hard. As a soldier he had to harden himself: as a governor he had to
observe justice rather than pity: as a judge it was his duty to punish
criminals. I picture a stern, determined man, grey and worn, with hard
eyes and strong mouth, one who looked for a thing to be done as soon as
he commanded it, at the coming of whom his servants became instantly
absorbed in work, at whose footstep his secretaries dared not lift their
heads.

Next we are told that he was a 'testy neighbour.' The letters are full
of complaints about trespass, invasion of his rights, and attempts to
over-reach him. How could a man choose but prove a 'testy neighbour' at
a time when the law was powerless and every man was trying to enlarge
his boundaries at the expense of his next neighbour? The land robber was
everywhere moving landmarks and claiming what was not his own. Private
persons, simple esquires, had to fortify their houses against their
neighbours and to prepare for a siege. 'I pray you,' says Margaret
Paston, 'to get some crossebows and wyndace to bind them with, and
quarrel'--_i.e._ bolts--'for your house is so low that ther may no man
shoot with no long bow though he had never so much mind.' And she goes
on to enumerate the warlike preparations made by her neighbour.

Sir John Fastolf himself orders five dozen long bows, and quarrels for
his own house in Norfolk. John Paston complains how Robert Hungerford,
Knight, and Lord Moleyne and Alianor his wife, entered forcibly upon his
house and manor of Gresham with a thousand people at their heels, and
robbed and pillaged, turning his wife and servants into the road.

These are things which do sometimes make neighbours testy.

But he is a 'grasping man of business.'

Hear, then, this story. The Duke of Suffolk seizes upon property
belonging to Fastolf. The judges are bribed and justice cannot be had.
Sir John and his friend, Mr. Justice Yelverton, resolve to address the
Duke of Norfolk, and to let him know that the counties of Norfolk and
Suffolk 'do stand right wildly. Without a mun may be that justice be
hadde.' Is it a surprising thing that an old soldier should resolve to
get justice if possible? Is it right to call a man 'grasping' because he
stands up in his own defence? Read again the following. 'I pray you
sende me worde who darre be so hardy to kick agen you in my ryght. And
sey hem on my half that they shall be givyt as ferre as law and reson
wolle. And yff they wolle not dredde, ne obey that, then they shall be
quyt by Blackberd or Whiteberd: that ys to say by God or the Devyll. And
therefor I charge you, send me word whethyr such as hafe be myne
adversaries before thys tyme, contynew still yn their wylfullnesse.' I
see nothing unworthy or grasping in this letter: only a plain soldier's
resolve to get justice or he would know the reason why.

It is further objected that he had long-standing claims against the
Crown, and was always setting them forth and pressing them. If his
claims were just, why should he not press them? If a man makes a claim
and does not press it, what does it mean except that he is afraid of
pressing it or that it is an unjust claim?

The estates which he owned, apart from the claims which were never
settled, amounted altogether to a very considerable property well worth
defending. He had no fewer than ninety-four manors: there were four
residences--Caister: Southwark: Castle Scrope, and another: there was a
sum of money in the treasure chest of 2,643_l._ 10_s._, equivalent to
about 50,000_l._ of our money. There were no banks in those days and no
investments: a gentleman bought lands and plate and armour and weapons:
he spent, as a rule, the greater part of his income, showing his wealth
and his rank by the splendid manner of living. Sir John Fastolf, for
instance, had 3,400 oz. of silver plate; and besides, a wardrobe full of
costly robes.

His house stood on the banks of the river in Stoney Lane, which now
leads from Tooley Street to Pickleherring Street. The Knight had good
neighbours. On the east of St. Olave's Church was the ancient house
built in the 12th century for the Earl of Warren and Surrey, and given
by his successor to the Abbot of St. Augustine's, Canterbury. Next to
the Abbot's Inn came, with the Bridge House between, the Abbot of
Battle's Inn, a great building on the river bank, with gardens lying on
the other side of what is now Tooley Street. The site was long marked by
'The Maze' and 'Maze Pond.' Then came Fastolf's House. There are no
means of ascertaining the appearance or the size of the place. It was
certainly a building round a quadrangle capable of housing many
followers, because he proposed to fill it with a garrison and so to meet
Cade's insurgents. Moreover, a man of such great authority and wealth
would not be contented with a small house. On the south side of St.
Olave's Church, nearly opposite Fastolf's house, was the Inn or House of
the Abbot of Lewes. And half a mile across the fields and gardens rose
the towers and walls of St. Saviour's Abbey, Bermondsey. Perhaps there
were other great houses east of Sir John Fastolf's, but I think not,
because as late as 1720 fields begin a little to the east of Stoney
Lane. Now, though fields precede houses, houses seldom precede fields. A
house often degenerates, but is rarely converted into a meadow. This,
however, did happen with Kennington Palace. We know, for example, that
the house called Augustin's Inn came to the Sellinger family, and being
deserted by them was presently let out in tenements till it was pulled
down and replaced by other buildings. According to these indications,
then, Fastolf's house was the last of the great houses on the east side
of London Bridge. There is another proof that it was a large house.
Fastolf kept a fleet of coasting vessels which continually sailed from
Caister or Yarmouth to London bringing provisions and supplies of all
kinds for his house at Southwark. This fact not only proves that his
household was very large, but it illustrates one way in which the great
houses, the ecclesiastical houses and the nobles' houses were
victualled. If those whose manors lay within easy reach of a port kept
ships for the conveyance of provisions from the country to London it is
certain that those who lived inland sent up caravans of pack-horses
laden with the produce of their estates and sent up to town flocks of
cattle and sheep and droves of pigs.

[Illustration: The Site of Sir John Fastolf's House in Tooley Street]

I have spoken of Sir John's intention to make a stand at Southwark
against the rebels under Cade. Fortunately for himself and for everybody
with him, he was persuaded to retire across the river to the Tower
before the rebels reached the gates. The story is one of the most
interesting in the whole of the 'Paston Letters,' which, to tell the
truth, unless one looks into them for persons we already know, are
somewhat dull in the reading.

When the Commons of Kent were reported to be approaching London in the
year 1450, Sir John Fastolf filled his house in Southwark with old
soldiers from Normandy and 'abyllyments' of war. This rumour reached the
rebels and naturally caused them considerable anxiety. So when they
caught a spy among them in the shape of one John Payn, a servant of Sir
John, they were disposed to make an example of him. And now you shall
hear what happened to John Payn in his own words, the spelling being
only partly modernised.

'Pleasyth it your gode and gracios maistershipp tendyrly to consedir the
grate losses and hurts that your por peticioner haeth, and haeth had
evyr seth the comons of Kent come to the Blakheth,[5] and that is at XV.
yer passed whereas my maister Syr John Fastolf, Knyght, that is youre
testator,[6] commandyt your besecher to take a man, and ij. of the beste
orsse that wer in his stabyll, with hym to ryde to the comens of Kent,
to gete the articles that they come for. And so I dyd: and al so sone as
I come to the Blakheth, the capteyn[7] made the comens to take me. And
for the savacion of my maisters horse, I made my fellowe to ryde a way
with the ij. horses; and I was brought forth with befor the Capteyn of
Kent. And the capteyn demaundit me what was my cause of comyng thedyr,
and why that I made my fellowe to stele a wey with the horse. And I seyd
that I come thedyr to chere with my wyves brethren, and other that were
my alys and gossipps of myn that were present there. And than was there
oone there, and seid to the capteyn that I was one of Syr John Fastolfes
men, and the ij. horse were Syr John Fastolfes; and then the capteyn
lete cry treson upon me thorough all the felde, and brought me at iiij.
partes of the feld with a harrawd of the Duke of Exeter[8] before me in
the dukes cote of armes, makyng iiij. _Oyes_ at iiij. partes of the
feld; proclaymyng opynly by the seid harrawd that I was sent thedyr for
to espy theyre pusaunce, and theyre abyllyments of werr, fro the
grettyst traytor that was in Yngelond or in Fraunce, as the seyd capteyn
made proclaymacion at that tyme, fro oone Syr John Fastolf, Knyght, the
whech mynnysshed all the garrisons of Normaundy, and Manns, and Mayn,
the whech was the cause of the lesyng of all the Kyngs tytyll and ryght
of an herytaunce that he had by yonde see. And morovyr he seid that the
seid Sir John Fastolf had furnysshyd his plase with the olde sawdyors of
Normaundy and abyllyments of werr, to destroy the comens of Kent whan
that they come to Southwerk; and therfor he seyd playnly that I shulde
lese my hede.

'And so furthewith I was taken, and led to the capteyns tent, and j. ax
and j. blok was brought forth to have smetyn of myn hede; and than my
maister Ponyngs, your brodyr,[9] with other of my frendes, come and
lettyd the capteyn, and seyd pleynly that there shulde dye a C. or ij.
(a hundred or two), that in case be that I dyed; and so by that meane my
lyf was savyd at that tyme. And than I was sworen to the capteyn, and to
the comens, that I shulde go to Southwerk, and aray me in the best wyse
that I coude, and come ageyn to hem to helpe hem; and so I gote th'
articles, and brought hem to my maister, and that cost me more emongs
the comens that day than xxvijs.

'Wherupon I come to my maister Fastolf, and brought hym th' articles,
and enformed hym of all the mater, and counseyled hym to put a wey all
his abyllyments of werr and the olde sawdiors; and so he dyd, and went
hymself to the Tour, and all his meyny with hym but betts and j.
(_i.e._ one) Mathew Brayn; and had not I ben, the comens wolde have
brennyd his plase and all his tennuryes, wher thorough it coste me of my
noune propr godes at that tyme more than vj. merks in mate and drynke;
and nought withstondyng the capteyn that same tyme lete take me atte
Whyte Harte in Suthewerk, and there comandyt Lovelase to dispoyle me
oute of myn aray, and so he dyd. And there he toke a fyn gowne of muster
dewyllers[10] furryd with fyn bevers, and j. peyr of Bregandyrns[11]
kevert with blew fellewet (velvet) and gylt naile, with leg-harneyse,
the vallew of the gown and the bregardyns viijli.

'Item, the capteyn sent certeyn of his meyny to my chamber in your
rents, and there breke up my chest, and toke awey j. obligacion of myn
that was due unto me of xxxvjli. by a prest of Poules, and j. nother
obligacion of j. knyght of xli., and my purse with v. ryngs of golde,
and xvijs. vjd. of golde and sylver; and j. herneyse (harness) complete
of the touche of Milleyn;[12] and j. gowne of fyn perse[13] blewe furryd
with martens; and ij. gounes, one furreyd with bogey,[14] and j. nother
lyned with fryse;[15] and ther wolde have smetyn of myn hede, whan that
they had dyspoyled me atte White Hart. And there my Maister Ponyngs and
my frends savyd me, and so I was put up tyll at nyght that the batayle
was at London Brygge;[16] and than atte nyght the captyn put me oute into
the batayle atte Brygge, and there I was woundyt, and hurt nere hand to
deth; and there I was vj. oures in the batayle, and myght nevyr come
oute therof; and iiij. tymes before that tyme I was caryd abought
thorough Kent and Sousex, and ther they wolde have smetyn of my hede.

'And in Kent there as my wyfe dwellyd, they toke awey all oure godes
movabyll that we had, and there wolde have hongyd my wyfe and v. of my
chyldren, and lefte her no more gode but her kyrtyll and her smook. And
a none aftye that hurlyng, the Bysshop Roffe,[17] apechyd me to the
Quene, and so I was arestyd by the Quenes commaundment in to the
Marchalsy, and there was in rygt grete durasse, and fere of myn lyf, and
was thretenyd to have ben hongyd, drawen, and quarteryd; and so wold
have made me to have pechyd my Maister Fastolf of treson. And by cause
that I wolde not, they had me up to Westminster, and there wolde have
sent me to the gole house at Wyndsor; but my wyves and j. coseyn of myn
noune that were yomen of the Croune, they went to the Kyng, and got
grase and j. chartyr of pardon.'

Here we see the popular opinion of Fastolf 'the greatest traitor in
England or in France:' he who 'mynnyshed all the garrisons of Normandy,
and Manns, and Mayn:' he who was the cause of the 'lesyng of all the
Kyng's tytyll and rights of an heritaunce that he had by yonde see.'

The whole story is in the highest degree dramatic. Sir John wants to
know what the rebellion means. Let one of his men go and find out. Let
him take two horses in case of having to run for it: the rebels will
most probably kill him if they catch him. Well: it is all in the day's
work: what can a man expect? Would the fellow live for ever? What can he
look for except to be killed some time or other? So John Payn takes two
horses and sets off. As we expected, he does get caught: he is brought
before Mortimer as a spy. At this point we are reminded of the false
herald in 'Quentin Durward,' but in this case it is a real herald
pressed into the service of Mortimer, _alias_ Jack Cade. Now the
Captain is by way of being a gentleman: very likely he was: the story
about him, that he had been a common soldier, is improbable and
supported by no kind of evidence. However, he conducts the affair in a
courteous fashion. No moblike running to the nearest tree: no beating
along the prisoner to be hanged upon a branch: not at all: the prisoner
is conducted with much ceremony to the four quarters of the camp and at
each is proclaimed by the herald a spy. Then the axe and the block are
brought out. The prisoner feels already the bitterness of death. But his
friends interfere: he must be spared or a hundred heads shall fall. He
is spared: on condition that he goes back, arrays himself in his best
harness and returns to fight on the side of the rebels.

Observe that this faithful person gets the 'articles' that his master
wants: he also reports on the strength of the rebellion in-so-much that
Sir John breaks up his garrison and retreats across the river to the
Tower. But before going he tells the man that he must keep his parole
and go back to the rebels to be killed by them or among them. So the
poor man puts on his best harness and goes back.

They spoil him of every thing: and then, they put him in the crowd of
those who fight on London Bridge.

It was a very fine battle. Jack Cade had already entered London when he
murdered Lord Saye, and Sir James Cromer, Sheriff of Kent, and plundered
and fined certain merchants. He kept up, however, the appearance of a
friend of the people and permitted no plundering of the lower sort. So
that one is led to believe that in the fight the merchants, themselves,
and the better class held the bridge.

The following account comes from Holinshed. It must be remembered that
the battle was fought on the night of Sunday the 5th of July, in
midsummer, when there is no night, but a clear soft twilight, and when
the sun rises by four in the morning. It was a wild sight that the sun
rose upon that morning. The Londoners and the Kentish men, with shouts
and cries, alternately beat each other back upon the narrow bridge,
attack and defence growing feebler as the night wore on. And all night
long the bells rang to call the citizens to arms in readiness to take
their place on the bridge. And all night the old and the young and the
women lay trembling in their beds lest the men of London should be
beaten back by the men of Kent, and these should come in with fire and
sword to pillage and destroy. All night long without stopping: the dead
were thrown over the bridge: the wounded fell and were trampled upon
until they were dead: and beneath their feet the quiet tide ebbed and
flowed through the arches.

[Illustration: HOUSES IN HIGH STREET, SOUTHWARK, 1550]

'The maior and other magistrates of London, perceiving themselves
neither to be sure of goods nor of life well warranted determined to
repell and keepe out of their citie such a mischievous caitife and his
wicked companie. And to be the better able so to doo, they made the lord
Scales, and that renowned Capteine Matthew Gough privie both of their
intent and enterprise, beseeching them of their helpe and furtherance
therein. The lord Scales promised them his aid, with shooting off the
artillerie in the Tower; and Matthew Gough was by him appointed to
assist the maior and Londoners in all that he might, and so he and other
capteins, appointed for defense of the citie, tooke upon them in the
night to keepe the bridge, and would not suffer the Kentish men once to
approach. The rebels, who never soundlie slept for feare of sudden
assaults, hearing that the bridge was thus kept, ran with great hast to
open that passage where between both parties was a fierce and cruell
fight.

'Matthew Gough perceiving the rebels to stand to their tackling more
manfullie than he thought they would have done, advised his companie not
to advance anie further toward Southwarke, till the daie appeared; that
they might see where the place of jeopardie rested, and so to provide
for the same; but this little availed. For the rebels with their
multitude drave back the citizens from the stoops at the bridge foot to
the draw bridge, and began to set fire to diverse houses. Great ruth it
was to behold the miserable state, wherein some desiring to eschew the
fire died upon their enimies weapon; women with children in their armes
lept for feare into the river, other in a deadlie care how to save
themselves, betweene fire, water, and sword, were in their houses choked
and smothered. Yet the capteins not sparing, fought on the bridge all
the night valiantlie, but in conclusion the rebels gat the draw bridge,
and drowned manie, and slue John Sutton, alderman, and Robert Heisand, a
hardie citizen, with manie other, beside Matthew Gough, a man of great
wit and much experience in feats of chivalrie, the which in continuall
warres had spent his time in service of the king and his father.

'This sore conflict indured in doubtfull wise on the bridge, till nine
of the clocke in the morning; for somtime, the Londoners were beaten
backe to saint Magnus corner; and suddenlie againe, the rebels were
repelled to the stoops in Southwarke, so that both parts being faint and
wearie, agreed to leave off from fighting till the next daie; upon
condition that neither Londoners should passe into Southwarke, nor
Kentish men into London. Upon this abstinence, this rake-hell capteine
for making him more friends, brake up the gaites of the kings Bench and
Marshalsie and so were manie mates set at libertie verie meet for his
matters in hand.' (Holinshed, iii. p. 226.)

When the rebellion was over they clapped the unlucky Payn into prison
and tried to get out of him some admission that might enable them to
impeach Sir John of treason. This old soldier was not without some love
of letters. One of his household, William Worcester, wrote for him
Cicero 'De Senectute,' printed by Caxton a few years later. A MS. also
exists in the British Museum called 'The Dictes and Sayings of the
Philosophers,' said to have been translated for him by Stephen Perope
his stepson.

After the Cade rebellion he returned to his house in Southwark but
seldom. He went down into Norfolk, employed his ships in carrying stone
and built his great castle of Caistor, which covered five acres. He
purposed founding a College at Caistor for seven priests and seven poor
folk. He assisted the building of philosophy schools at Cambridge: he
made gifts to Magdalen College, Oxford. His intentions as to the College
were never carried out, the bequest being transferred to Magdalen
College, Oxford, for the support of seven poor priests and seven poor
scholars. He died at the age of eighty. It was the misfortune of this
stout old warrior that the latter half of his fighting career was in a
losing cause: it was also his misfortune to incur a great part of the
odium that falls upon a general who is on the losing side: at the same
time, in his own actions he was, almost without exception, victorious:
and there does not seem any reason why he more than any other should
bear the blame of the English reverses. It was probably in deference to
popular opinion that no honours were paid to the veteran of so many
fights. Perhaps he was not a _persona grata_ at Court. Certainly the
story of Payn's imprisonment indicates some enemy in high quarters. Why
should the Government desire to charge him with treason?

FOOTNOTES:

[5] Jack Cade and his followers encamped on Blackheath on June 11, 1450,
and again from June 29 to July 1. Payn refers to the latter occasion.

[6] Sir John Fastolf (who is dead at the date of this letter) left
Paston his executor, as will be seen hereafter.

[7] Jack Cade.

[8] Henry Holland, Duke of Exeter. During the civil war which followed,
he adhered to the House of Lancaster, though he married Edward IV.'s
sister. His herald had probably been seized by Cade's followers, and
pressed into their service.

[9] Robert Poynings, who, some years before this letter was written, had
married Elizabeth, the sister of John Paston, was sword-bearer and
carver to Cade, and was accused of creating disturbances on more than
one occasion afterwards.

[10] 'A kind of mixed grey woollen cloth, which continued in use to
Elizabeth's reign.'--Halliwell.

[11] A brigandine was a coat of leather or quilted linen, with small
iron plates sewed on.--_See_ Grose's _Antient Armour_. The back and
breast of this coat were sometimes made separately, and called a
pair.--Meyrick.

[12] Milan was famous for its manufacture of arms and armour.

[13] 'Skye or bluish grey. There was a kind of cloth so
called.'--Halliwell.

[14] Budge fur.

[15] Frieze. A coarse narrow cloth, formerly much in use.

[16] The battle on London Bridge was on the 5th of July.

[17] Fenn gives this name 'Rosse' with two long s's, but translates it
Rochester, from which it is presumed that it was written 'Roffe' for
_Roffensis_. The Bishop of Rochester's name was John Lowe.



CHAPTER VII

THE BOMBARDMENT OF LONDON


The Bombardment of London, now almost as much forgotten as the all-night
battle of London Bridge, took place also on a Sunday, twenty years
afterwards. It was the concluding scene, and a very fit end--to the long
wars of the Roses.

There was a certain Thomas, a natural son of William Nevill, Lord
Fauconberg, Earl of Kent, generally called the Bastard of Fauconberg, or
Falconbridge. This man was a sailor. In the year 1454 he had received
the freedom of the City of London and the thanks of the Corporation for
his services in putting down the pirates of the North Sea and the
Channel. It is suggestive of the way in which the Civil War divided
families, that though the Earl of Kent did so much to put Edward on the
throne, his son did his best to put up Henry.

He was appointed by Warwick Vice-Admiral of the Fleet, and in that
capacity he held Calais and prevented the despatch of Burgundians to the
help of Edward. He seems to have crossed and recrossed continually.

A reference to the dates shows how slowly news travelled across country.
On April the 14th the Battle of Barnet was fought. At this battle
Warwick fell. On May the 4th the Battle of Tewkesbury finished the hopes
of the Lancastrians. Yet on May the 12th the Bastard of Fauconberg
presented himself at the head of 17,000 Kentish men at the gates of
London Bridge, and stated that he was come to dethrone the usurper
Edward, and to restore King Henry. He asked permission to march through
the town, promising that his men should commit no disturbance or
pillage. Of course they knew who he was, but he assured them that he
held a commission from the Earl of Warwick as Vice-Admiral.

In reply, the Mayor and Corporation sent him a letter, pointing out that
his commission was no longer in force because Warwick was dead nearly
three weeks before, and that his body had been exposed for two days in
St. Paul's; they informed him that the Battle of Barnet had been
disastrous to the Lancastrians, and that runners had informed them of a
great Lancastrian disaster at Tewkesbury, where Prince Edward was slain
with many noble lords of his following.

All this Fauconberg either disbelieved or affected to disbelieve. I
think that he really did disbelieve the story: he could not understand
how this great Earl of Warwick could be killed. He persisted in his
demand for the right of passage. The persistence makes one doubt the
sincerity of his assurances. Why did he want to pass through London? If
he merely wanted to get across he had his ships with him--they had come
up the river and now lay off Ratcliffe. He could have carried his army
across in less time than he took to fight his way. Did he propose to
hold London against Edward, and to keep it while the Lancastrians were
gathering strength? There was still one Lancastrian heir to the throne
at least.

However, the City still refused. They sent him a letter urging him to
lay down his arms and acknowledge Edward, who was now firmly
established.

Seeing that he was not to be moved, the citizens began to look to their
fortifications: on the river side the river wall had long since gone,
but the houses themselves formed a wall, with narrow lanes leading to
the water's edge. These lanes they easily stopped with stones: they
looked to their wall and to their gates.

The Bastard therefore resolved upon an assault on the City. Like a
skilful commander he attacked it at three points. First, however, he
brought in the cannon from his ships, laying them along the shore: he
then sent 3,000 men across the river with orders to divide into two
companies, one for an attack on Aldgate, the other for an attack on
Bishopsgate. He himself undertook the assault on London Bridge. His
cannonade of the City was answered by the artillery of the Tower. We
should like to know more of this bombardment. Did they still use round
stones for shot? Was much mischief done by the cannon? Probably little
that was not easily repaired: the shot either struck the houses on the
river's edge or it went clean over the City and fell in the fields
beyond. Holinshed says that 'the Citizens lodged their great artillerie
against their adversaries, and with violent shot thereof so galled them
that they durst not abide in anie place alongst the water side but were
driven even from their own Ordnance.' Did they, then, take the great
guns from the Tower and place them all along the river? I think not: the
guns could not be moved from the Tower: then the 'heavie artillerie'
could only damage the enemy on the shore opposite--not above the bridge.

The three thousand men told off for the attack on the gates valiantly
assailed them. But they met with a stout resistance. Some of them
actually got into the City at Aldgate, but the gate was closed behind
them, and they were all killed. Robert Basset, Alderman of Aldgate,
performed prodigies of valour. At Bishopsgate they did no good at all.
In the end they fell back. Then the citizens threw open the gates and
sallied forth. The Earl of Kent brought out 500 men by the Tower Postern
and chased the rebels as far as Stepney. Some seven hundred of them were
killed. Many hundreds were taken prisoners and held to ransom, 'as if
they had been Frenchmen,' says the Chronicler.

The attack on the bridge also completely failed. The gate on the south
was fired and destroyed: three score of the houses on the bridge were
fired and destroyed: the north gate was also fired, but at the bridge
end there were planted half a dozen small pieces of cannon, and behind
them waited the army of the citizens. It is a pity that we have not
another Battle of the Bridge to relate.

The captain, seeing that he had no hopes of getting possession of
London, resolved to march westward and meet Edward. By this time, it is
probable that he understood what had happened. He therefore ordered his
fleet to await him in the Mersey, and marched as far as
Kingston-upon-Thames. It is a strange, incongruous story. All his
friends were dead: their cause was hopeless: why should he attempt a
thing impossible? Because it was Warwick's order? Perhaps, however, he
did not think it impossible.

At Kingston he was met by Lord Scales and Nicolas Fanute, Mayor of
Canterbury, who persuaded him 'by fair words' to return. Accordingly, he
marched back to Blackheath, where he dismissed his men, ordering them to
go home peaceably. As for himself, with a company of 600--his sailors,
one supposes--he rejoined his fleet at Chatham, and took his ships round
the coast to Sandwich.

Here he waited till Edward came there. He handed over to the King
fifty-six ships great and small. The King pardoned him, knighted him,
and made him Vice-Admiral of the Fleet. This was in May. Alas! in
September we hear that he was taken prisoner at Southampton, carried to
Middleham, in Yorkshire, and beheaded, and his head put upon London
Bridge.

Why? nobody knows. Holinshed suggests that he had been 'roving,' _i.e._
practising as a pirate. But would the Vice-Admiral of the English fleet
go off 'roving'? Surely not. I take it as only one more of the thousand
murders, perjuries, and treacheries of the worst fifty years that ever
stained the history of the country. There was but one complete way of
safety for Edward--the death of every man, noble or simple, who might
take up arms against him. So the Bastard--this fool who had trusted the
King and given him a fleet--was beheaded like all the rest.



CHAPTER VIII

THE PILGRIMS


The town was full of those who carried in their hats the pilgrim's
signs. Besides the ordinary insignia of pilgrimage, every shrine had its
special signs, which the pilgrim on his return bore conspicuously upon
his hat or scrip or hanging round his neck (see Skeat, _Notes to Piers
Plowman_) in token that he had accomplished that particular pilgrimage.
Thus the ampullæ were the signs of Canterbury; the scallop shell that of
St. James of Compostella; the cross keys and the vernicle of Rome--the
vernicle was a copy of the handkerchief of St. Veronica, which was
miraculously impressed with the face of our Lord. These shrines were
cast in lead in the most part. Thus in the supplement to the _Canterbury
Tales_,

    Then as manere and custom is, signes there they bought,
    For men of contre should know whom they had sought;
    Eche man set his silver in such thing as they liked,
    And in the meanwhile the miller had y-piked
    His barns full of signes of Canterbury brought.

Erasmus makes Menedemus ask, 'What kind of attire is this that thou
wearest? It is all set over with shells scolloped, full of images of
lead and tin, and charms of straw work, and the cuffs are adorned with
snakes' eggs instead of bracelets.' To which the reply is that he has
been to certain shrines on pilgrimage. The late Dr. Hugo communicated to
the Society of Antiquaries a paper in which he enumerated and figured a
great many of these signs found in different places, but especially in
the river when Old London Bridge was removed. Bells--_Campana
Thomæ_--Canterbury Bells--were also hung from the bridles, ringing
merrily all the way by way of a charm to keep off evil.

[Illustration: OLD HALL, KING'S HEAD, AYLESBURY]

Every day in the summer parties of pilgrims started from one or other of
the Inns of Southwark: there was the short pilgrimage and the long
pilgrimage: the pilgrimage of a day: the pilgrimage of a month: and the
pilgrimage beyond the seas. From Southampton and at Dartmouth sailed the
ships of those who were licensed to carry pilgrims to Compostella, which
was the shrine of St. Iago: or to Rome: or to Rocamadom in Gascony: or
to Jaffa for the Holy Places. The pilgrimage _outremer_ is undoubtedly
that which conferred the longest indulgences, the greatest benefits upon
the soul, and the highest sanctity upon the pilgrim.

In the matter of short pilgrimages, the South Londoner had a
considerable choice. He might simply go to the shrine of St. Erkenwald
at Paul's, or to that of Edward the Confessor at Westminster, he might
even confine his devotions to the Holy Rood of Bermondsey. If he wished
to go a little further afield, there were the shrines of Our Lady of the
Oak; of Muswell Hill; or of Willesden. But these were all on the north
side of London and belonged to the City rather than to Southwark. For
him of the Borough there was the shrine of Crome's Hill, Greenwich,
which provided a pleasant outing for the day: it might be prolonged with
feasting and drinking to fill up the whole day, so that the whole family
could get a holiday combined with religious exercises in good company
and return home at night, each happy in the consciousness that so many
years were knocked off purgatory.

[Illustration: OLD HALL, AYLESBURY]

For the longer pilgrimages there were of course the far distant journeys
to Jerusalem, generally over land as far as Venice, and then by a
'personally conducted' voyage, the captain providing escort to and from
the Holy Places. There were also pilgrimages to Compostella: to Rome: to
Cologne: and other places.

For pilgrimage within the four seas, the pious citizen of South London
had surely no choice. For him St. Thomas of Canterbury was the only
Saint. There were other Saints, of course, but St. Thomas was his
special Saint. No other shrine was possible for him save that of St.
Thomas. Not Glastonbury: nor Walsingham: nor Beverley: but Canterbury
contained the relics the sight and adoration of which would more
effectively assist his soul.

[Illustration: CANTERBURY PILGRIMS]

In Erasmus's Dialogue of the Pilgrimage we have an account of what was
done and what was shown at the shrines of Our Lady of Walsingham and St.
Thomas of Canterbury.

'The church that is dedicated to St. Thomas raises itself up towards
heaven with that majesty that it strikes those that behold it at a great
distance with an awe of religion, and now with its splendour makes the
light of the neighbouring palaces look dim, and as it were obscures the
place that was anciently the most celebrated for religion. There are
two lofty turrets which stand as it were bidding visitants welcome from
afar off, and a ring of bells that make the adjacent country echo far
and wide with their rolling sound. In the south porch of the church
stand three stone statues of men in armour, who with wicked hands
murdered the holy man, with the names of their countries--Tusci, Fusci,
and Betri....

'_Og._ When you are entered in, a certain spacious majesty of place
opens itself to you, which is free to every one. _Me._ Is there nothing
to be seen there? _Og._ Nothing but the bulk of the structure, and some
books chained to the pillars, containing the gospel of Nicodemus and the
sepulchre of I cannot tell who. _Me._ And what else? _Og._ Iron grates
enclose the place called the choir, so that there is no entrance, but so
that the view is still open from one end of the church to the other. You
ascend to this by a great many steps, under which there is a certain
vault that opens a passage to the north side. There they show a wooden
altar consecrated to the Holy Virgin; it is a very small one, and
remarkable for nothing except as a monument of antiquity, reproaching
the luxury of the present times. In that place the good man is reported
to have taken his last leave of the Virgin, when he was at the point of
death. Upon the altar is the point of the sword with which the top of
the head of that good prelate was wounded, and some of his brains that
were beaten out, to make sure work of it. We most religiously kissed the
sacred rust of this weapon out of love to the martyr.

'Leaving this place, we went down into a vault underground; to that
there belong two showmen of the relics. The first thing they show you is
the skull of the martyr, as it was bored through; the upper part is left
open to be kissed, all the rest is covered over with silver. There is
also shown you a leaden plate with this inscription, Thomas Acrensis.
And there hang up in a great place the shirts of hair-cloth, the
girdles, and breeches with which this prelate used to mortify his
flesh....

'_Og._ From hence we return to the choir. On the north side they open a
private place. It is incredible what a world of bones they brought out
of it, skulls, chins, teeth, hands, fingers, whole arms, all which we
having first adored, kissed; nor had there been any end of it had it not
been for one of my fellow-travellers, who indiscreetly interrupted the
officer that was showing them....

'After this we viewed the table of the altar, and the ornaments; and
after that those things that were laid up under the altar; all was very
rich, you would have said Midas and Croesus were beggars compared to
them, if you beheld the great quantities of gold and silver....

'After this we were carried into the vestry. Good God! what a pomp of
silk vestments was there, of golden candlesticks! There we saw also St.
Thomas's foot. It looked like a reed painted over with silver; it hath
but little of weight, and nothing of workmanship, and was longer than up
to one's girdle. _Me._ Was there never a cross? _Og._ I saw none. There
was a gown shown; it was silk, indeed, but coarse and without embroidery
or jewels, and a handkerchief, still having plain marks of sweat and
blood from the saint's neck. We readily kissed these monuments of
ancient frugality....

'From hence we were conducted up higher; for behind the high altar there
is another ascent as into another church. In a certain new chapel there
was shewn to us the whole face of the good man set in gold, and adorned
with jewels....

'Upon this, out comes the head of the college. _Me._ Who was he, the
abbot of the place? _Og._ He wears a mitre, and has the revenue of an
abbot--he wants nothing but the name; he is called the prior because the
archbishop is in the place of an abbot; for in old time every one that
was an archbishop of that diocese was a monk. _Me._ I should not mind if
I was called a camel, if I had but the revenue of an abbot. _Og._ He
seemed to me to be a godly and prudent man, and not unacquainted with
the Scotch divinity. He opened us the box in which the remainder of the
holy man's body is said to rest. _Me._ Did you see the bones? _Og._ That
is not permitted, nor can it be done without a ladder. But a wooden box
covers a golden one, and that being craned up with ropes, discovers an
inestimable treasure. _Me._ What say you? _Og._ Gold was the basest
part. Everything sparkled and shined with very large and scarce jewels,
some of them bigger than a goose's egg. There some monks stood about
with the greatest veneration. The cover being taken off, we all
worshipped. The prior, with a white wand, touched every stone one by
one, telling us the name in French, the value of it, and who was the
donor of it. The principal of them were the presents of kings....

'Hence he carried us back into a vault. There the Virgin Mary has her
residence; it is something dark; it is doubly railed in and encompassed
about with iron bars. _Me._ What is she afraid of? _Og._ Nothing, I
suppose, but thieves. And I never in my life saw anything more laden
with riches. _Me._ You tell me of riches in the dark. _Og._ Candles
being brought in we saw more than a royal sight. _Me._ What, does it go
beyond the Parathalassian virgin in wealth? _Og._ It goes far beyond in
appearance. What is concealed she knows best. These things are shewn to
none but great persons or peculiar friends. In the end we were carried
back into the vestry. There was pulled out a chest covered with black
leather; it was set upon the table and opened. They all fell down on
their knees and worshipped. _Me._ What was in it? _Og._ Pieces of linen
rags.'

At Canterbury, as at Walsingham, the object of the pilgrim was to see
the relics, kiss them, saying certain prayers prescribed, and to make
offerings at every exhibition of relics. Thus on beholding the precious
place containing the milk of the Virgin, the pilgrim recited the
following prayer:--

'Virgin Mother, who hast merited to give suck to the Lord of heaven and
earth, thy Son Jesus, from thy virgin breasts, we desire that, being
purified by His blood, we may arrive at that happy infant state of
dovelike innocence in which, being void of malice, fraud, and deceit, we
may continually desire the milk of the evangelical doctrine, until we
grow up to a perfect man, and to the measure of the fulness of Christ,
whose blessed society thou wilt enjoy for evermore, with the Father and
the Holy Spirit. Amen.'

On being shown the little chapel which was the actual dwelling-place of
the Virgin like the Casa Sancta of Loreto, the pilgrim prostrated
himself and recited as follows:--

'O thou who only of all women art a mother and a virgin, the most happy
of mothers and the purest of virgins, we that are impure do now come to
visit and address ourselves to thee that art pure, and reverence thee
with our poor offerings, such as they are. Oh that thy Son would enable
us to imitate thy most holy life, that we may deserve, by the grace of
the Holy Spirit, to conceive the Lord Jesus in the most inward bowels of
our minds, and having once conceived Him, never to lose Him. Amen.'

As regards the offerings, it was found necessary to station a priest at
each place in order to encourage the pilgrims to give openly in the
sight of all, otherwise they would give nothing at all, so great was
their piety. Nay, even with this stimulus, there were found some who,
while they laid their offering on the altar, by sleight of hand would
steal what another had laid down. Since pilgrimage was reduced to the
easy performance of a journey with recitals and repetitions of set
prayers, one easily imagines that the pilgrims would no more hesitate to
steal from the altar than to commit any other offence against morality.

On returning from Canterbury to London the pilgrims were waylaid by
roadside beggars who came out and sprinkled them with holy water, and
showed them St. Thomas's shoe to kiss. In fact, what with the treasures
brought home by pilgrims, presented to archbishops and kings, and sold
by pardoners and friars, the whole country was crammed with relics; at
the great shrines as shown by Erasmus, there were cupboards filled with
holy bones and precious rags; but there were too many: the credulity of
the people had been tried too much and too long. Erasmus shows the
profound disbelief that he himself, if no other, entertained for the
sanctity of the relics.

[Illustration: 15TH CENTURY GOLDSMITH]

[Illustration: RICH MERCHANT AND HIS WIFE, 14TH CENTURY]

Thomas à Becket was canonised in 1173. Fifty years afterwards his
remains were transferred from their original resting-place by Stephen
Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, to the shrine prepared for them
behind the high altar.

Erasmus, whose contempt for pilgrimage is sufficiently indicated by the
extracts quoted above, was not alone in his opinions. Indeed, it
required no great wisdom to perceive that a religious pilgrimage
conducted without the least attention to the religious life was a
mockery.

Nor was Erasmus the first to make this discovery. Piers Plowman, long
before, had expressed the same contempt for pilgrims:

    Pilgrims and Palmers plihten hem togederes
    For to seche Seint Jeme and seintes at Rome;
    Wenten forth in heore wey with mony wyse tales,
    And hedden leve to lye al heore lyf aftir.
    Ermytes on a hep with hokide staves
    Wenten to Walsingham, and here wenches aftir.

But there is a more serious indictment still.

In the year 1407, a certain priest named Thorpe, a prisoner for
heretical opinions, was allowed to state these opinions to Archbishop
Arundel. An account remains, written by the priest himself, of his
arguments and of the Archbishop's replies. On the subject of pilgrimage
he is very strong.

'Wherefore, Syr, I have prechid and taucht openlie, and so I purpose all
my lyfe tyme to do with God's helpe saying that suche fonde people wast
blamefully God's goods in ther veyne pilgrimagis, spending their goodes
upon vicious hostelers, which ar ofte unclene women of their bodies: and
at the leste those goodes with the which thei should doo werkis of
mercie after Goddis bidding to pore nedy men and women. Thes poor mennis
goodes and their lyvelode thes runners aboute offer to rich priestis,
which have mekill more lyvelode than they need: and thus those goodes
they waste wilfully and spende them unjustely against Goddis bidding
upon straungers, with which they shoulde helpe and releve after Goddis
will their poor nedy neighbours at home: ye, and over this foly, ofte
tymes diverse men and women of thes runners thus madly hither and
thither in to pilgrimage borowe hereto other mennis goodes, ye and
sometymes they stele mennis goodes hereto, and they pay them never
again. Also, Syr, I know well that when diverse men and women will go
thus often after their own willes, and finding out one pilgrimage, they
will order with them before to have with them both men and women that
can well syng countre songes and some other pilgremis will have with
them baggepipes; so that every timme they come to rome, what with the
noyse of their synging and with the sounde of their piping and with the
jangeling of their Canterbury bellis, and with the barking out of doggis
after them, that they make more noise than if the King came there away
with all his clarions, and many other minstrellis. And if these men and
women be a moneth in their pilgrimage, many of them shall be an half
year after great jangelers, tale tellers, and lyers.'

'And the Archbishop said to me, "Leude Losell, Thou seest not ferre
ynough in this matter, for thou considerest not the great trauel of
pilgremys, therefore thou blamest the thing that is praisable. I say to
the that it is right well done that pilgremys have with them both
singers and also pypers, that whan one of them that goeth barfoote
striketh his toe upon a stone and hurteth hym sore, and makyth him to
blede: it is well done that he or his felow begyn then a songe, or else
take out of his bosom a baggepipe for to drive away with suche myrthe
the hurt of his felow. For with soche solace the trauel and weeriness of
pilgremys is lightely and merily broughte forth."'

From the immortal company of pilgrims which left the Tabard Inn, High
Street, Southwark, on the 2nd day of April in, or about, the year 1380,
it remains for me to show what pilgrims and pilgrimage meant in the
fourteenth century. This company met by appointment the night before the
day of departure. They did not agree with each other, but they met by
chance. At present, when a party starts for Palestine or for a voyage
round the Mediterranean, the members do not agree to meet: they find out
that a party will start on such a date from such a place, and they join
it. Part of the business of the Tabard, and of other inns of Southwark,
was to organise and to conduct such a party to Canterbury and back. As
the ships licensed to carry pilgrims charged so much for the voyage
there and back, including the visit to the shrine, so the Host of the
Tabard charged so much for conducting and entertaining the party there
and back again. That the company was collected in this manner and not by
personal agreement, is shown by their mixed character; and the ready way
in which they all journeyed together, travelled together, and talked
together shows that society of the fourteenth century was no respecter
of persons, or that pilgrimage was a great leveller of rank.

The following is a list of the company:--

1.--A Knight, his Son, and an attendant Yeoman. 2.--A Prioress: an
attendant Nun: and three Priests. 3.--A Monk and a Friar. 4.--A
Merchant. 5.--A Clerk of Oxford. 6.--A Serjeant at Law. 7.--A Franklin.
8.--A Haberdasher, a Carpenter, a Weaver, a Dyer, and a Tapestry Maker,
all clad in the livery of a Fraternity. 9.--A Sailor and a Cook. 10.--A
Physician, 11.--The Wife of Bath. 12.--A Town Parson and a Ploughman.
13.--A Reeve, a Miller, a Sompnour, a Pardoner, a Maunciple, and the
Poet himself.

[Illustration: 14TH CENTURY CRAFTSMAN]

[Illustration: 14TH CENTURY MERCHANT]

[Illustration: 14TH CENTURY CRAFTSMAN]

With them all went the Host of the Tabard. It is generally supposed
that they rode the whole way to Canterbury, which is sixty-six miles, in
a single day. Their resting places have, however, been found by
Professor Skeat. Allow them sixteen hours for the journey. This means
more than four miles an hour without any halt. But so large a company
must needs go slowly and stop often. We cannot believe that in the
fourteenth century such a company would travel sixty-six miles a day
over such roads as then existed, and at a time of year when the winter
mud had not yet had time to dry.

It is not without significance that out of the whole number a third
should belong to the Church. Among them the Prioress Madame Eglantine is
a gentlewoman who might belong to any age: tenderhearted: delicate and
dainty: fond of creatures: courteous in her manner: careful in her
eating: wearing a brooch,

    On whiche was first i-writen a crowned A,
    And aftir, _Amor vincit omnia_.

The Monk was a mighty hunter: a big burly man who kept many horses and
hounds and loved to hunt the hare.

The Friar was a Limitour, one licensed to hear confessions: a wanton man
who married many women 'at his own cost:' he heard confessions, sweetly
imposing light penance: he knew all the taverns: he could play and sing:
he knew all the rich people in his district: he carried knives and pins
as gifts for the women:--a wholly worldly loose living Limitour.

The character of the Town Parson, brother of the Ploughman, is perhaps
the most charming of all this wonderful group of portraits.

      A good man was ther of religioun,
    And was a povre PERSOUN of a toun;
    But riche he was of holy thoght and werk.
    He was also a lerned man, a clerk,
    That Cristes gospel trewely wolde preche;
    His parisshens devoutly wolde he teche.
    Benigne he was, and wonder diligent,
    And in adversitee ful pacient;
    And swich he was y-preved ofte sythes.
    Ful looth were him to cursen for his tythes,
    But rather wolde he yeven, out of doute,
    Un-to his povre parisshens aboute
    Of his offring, and eek of his substaunce.
    He coude in litel thing han suffisaunce.
    Wyd was his parisshe, and houses fer a-sonder,
    But he ne lafte nat, for reyn ne thonder,
    In siknes nor in meschief, to visyte
    The ferreste in his parisshe, muche and lyte,
    Up-on his feet, and in his hand a staf.
    This noble ensample to his sheep he yaf,
    That first he wroghte, and afterward he taughte;
    Out of the gospel he tho wordes caughte;
    And this figure he added eek ther-to,
    That if gold ruste, what shal iren do?
    For if a preest be foul, on whom we truste,
    No wonder is a lewed man to ruste;
    And shame it is, if a preest take keep,
    A dirty shepherde and a clene sheep.
    Wel oghte a preest ensample for to yive,
    By his clennesse, how that his sheep shold live.
    He sette nat his benefice to hyre,
    And leet his sheep encombred in the myre,
    And ran to London, un-to seynt Poules,
    To seken him a chauntrie for soules,
    Or with a bretherhed to been withholde;
    But dwelte at hoom, and kepte wel his folde,
    So that the wolf ne made it nat miscarie;
    He was a shepherde and no mercenarie.
    And thouth he holy were, and vertuous,
    He was to sinful man nat despitous,
    Ne of his speche daunderous ne digne,
    But in his teching discreet and benigne.
    To drawen folk to heven by fairnesse,
    By good ensample, was his bisinesse:
    But it were any persone obstinat,
    What-so he were, of heigh or lowe estat,
    Him wolde he snibben sharply for the nones.
    A bettre preest, I trowe that nowher noon is.
    He wayted after no pompe and reverence,
    Ne maked him a spyced conscience,
    But Cristes lore, and his apostles twelve,
    He taughte, and first he folwed it him-selve.

The Sompnour, _i.e._ Summoner of the Ecclesiastical Courts, was a
scorbutic person with an inflamed face: children were afraid of him: he
loved strong meat and strong drink. If he found a good fellow anywhere
he bade him have no fear of the archdeacon's curse unless his soul were
in his purse.

Lastly, there was the Pardoner. He, too, was as jolly as the Monk, the
Friar, and the Sompnour. He carried in his wallet pardons from Rome; and
relics without end: all the imagination in the nature of certain classes
was lavished upon the invention of relics. Thus it required a fine power
of imagination to show a bit of canvas as a piece of the sail of St.
Peter's boat when Christ called him. This, however, the Pardoner did.
Chaucer makes him reveal his own character.

    Of avarice and of swiche cursednesse
    Is al my preching, for to make hem free
    To yeve hir pense and namely unto me.

It is not without meaning that the poet shows a Monk, a Limitour, and a
Pardoner absolutely without the least tinge of religion: the first a man
who dresses like a layman and thinks of nothing but of hunting--what,
then, of the Rule? The second, and the third, are both corrupt and
rotten to the very core. If any proof were wanting that the spiritual
life had gone out of the regular orders, these characters of Chaucer
supply the proof. The figures in this company have been described,
figured, illustrated, annotated a hundred times. They form the most
trustworthy presentation of the time which we possess. The Knight is
full of chivalry, truth, honour, and courtesy: his son is well bred and
lusty, is a lover and a bachelor. The Merchant talks eagerly and much of
his profits: the Clerk, a poor scholar, would rather have books than
rich robes or musical instruments: the Craftsmen were all well-to-do, in
easy circumstances: the Physician was an astrologer, who understood
natural magic, _i.e._ the influence of the stars; and made for his
patients images: he knew the cause of every malady and how it was
engendered--the profession are still liable to confuse this knowledge
with the power of healing the malady: he was dressed in crimson and
blue, lined with taffeta and silk--it would be interesting to know when
physicians assumed the black dress of the last century. Lastly, his
study was but little in the Bible.

The Clerk of Oxford is a portrait finished to the life.

    A CLERK ther was of Oxenford also,
    That un-to logik hadde longe y-go.
    As lene was his hors as is a rake,
    And he nas nat right fat, I undertake;
    But loked holwe, and ther-to soberly.
    Ful thredbar was his overest courtepy;
    For he had geten him yet no benefyce,
    Ne was so worldly for to have offyce.
    For him was lever have at his beddes heed
    Twenty bokes, clad in blak or reed,
    Of Aristotle and his philosophye,
    Than robes riche, or fithele, or gay sautrye.
    But al be that he was a philosophre,
    Yet hadde he but litel gold in cofre;
    But al that he mighte of his freendes hente,
    On bokes and on lerninge he it spente,
    And bisily gan for the soules preye
    Of hem that yaf him wher-with to scoleye.
    Of studie took he most cure and most hede.
    Noght o word spak he more than was nede,
    And that was seyd in forme and reverence,
    And short and quik, and ful of hy sentence.
    Souninge in moral vertu was his speche,
    And gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly teche.

Would it be possible to find a clearer picture of what in those days we
should perhaps call a 'lower middle class' woman than that of the Wyf of
Bath? She is dressed in all the splendour that she can afford: she
frankly loves fine dress.

    A good WYF was ther of bisyde BATHE,
    But she was som-del deef, and that was scathe.
    Of clooth-making she hadde swiche an haunt,
    She passed hem of Ypres and of Gaunt.
    In al the parisshe wyf ne was ther noon
    That to the offring bifore hir sholde goon;
    And if ther dide, certeyn, so wrooth was she,
    That she was out of alle charitee.
    Hir coverchiefs ful fyne were of ground;
    I dorste swere they weyeden ten pound
    That on a Sonday were upon hir heed.
    Hir hosen weren of fyn scarlet reed,
    Ful streite y-teyd, and shoos ful moiste and newe.
    Bold was hir face, and fair, and reed of hewe.
    She was a worthy womman all hir lyve,
    Housbondes at chirche-dore she hadde fyve,
    Withouten other companye in youthe;
    But thereof nedeth nat to speke as nouthe.
    And thryes hadde she been at Ierusalem;
    She hadde passed many a straunge streem;
    At Rome she hadde been, and at Boloigne
    In Galice at seint Iame, and at Coloigne.
    She coude muche of wandring by the weye.
    Gat-tothed was she, soothly for to seye.
    Up-on an amblere esily she sat,
    Y-wimpled wel, and on hir heed an hat
    As brood as is a bokeler or a targe;
    A foot-mantel aboute hir hipes large,
    And on hir feet a paire of spores sharpe.
    In felawschip wel coude she laughe and carpe.
    Of remedyes of love she knew per-chaunce,
    For she coude of that art the olde daunce.
    .   .   .   .   .   .   .

She is frankly sensual and self-indulgent: she likes everything that is
pleasant: food, drink, love. Observe also the restlessness of the
woman: she can never have enough of pilgrimage: she loves the company:
the change: the things that one sees: the people that one meets. She has
journeyed three times to Jerusalem and back: once to Rome: once to
Bologna: once to St. Iago of Compostella: once to Cologne: apart from
the English shrines. We may be quite sure that so good an Englishwoman
would not neglect the saints of her own country: after Canterbury she
would pilgrimise to Beverley and to Walsingham, and to Glastonbury, and
many a local saint's shrine. She had a ready wit and could give reasons
for everything, especially for her five marriages and her avowed
intentions to take a sixth husband when her fifth should die. Yet, she
declared, she honoured holy virgins.

    Let them be bred of purëd whete seed
    And let us wyves eten barley brede:
    And yet with barley bred men telle can
    Our Lord Ihesù refreisshed many man.

Many of this company play and sing. The Prioress herself sings the
divine service, intoning it full sweetly by her nose: the Limitour plays
on the rote: the Miller plays the bagpipe: the Pardoner could sing 'full
loud:' the Knight's son could both sing and play. Music, in fact, as an
accomplishment was far more common in the fourteenth than in the
nineteenth century.

Chaucer seems to speak of palmers as if they were the same as pilgrims.
The latter, however, simply journeyed from home to the shrine and back
again: the former was under vows of poverty, and continually travelled
from shrine to shrine. The Canterbury Pilgrims were not, therefore,
palmers. The first meaning of a palmer was that he could carry a palm in
token of having visited the Holy Land.

When the Prioress spoke the French of Stratford le Bow it is not
intended that she spoke bad French, but the Anglo-French which was
spoken at Court, in the Law Courts, and by English ecclesiastics of
higher rank. But why of Stratford le Bow? Because here was a
Benedictine nunnery dating from the eleventh century. The beautiful
little Parish Church of Bow was formerly the chapel of the nunnery. The
Wyf of Bath is 'gat toothed,' _i.e._ her teeth are wide apart: Professor
Skeat has discovered that an old superstition attaches to such teeth,
that, like the Wyf of Bath, those who have such teeth will travel far
and be lucky. Popular superstitions are so long lived that one has
little doubt about Chaucer's meaning. Certainly his Wyf of Bath had
travelled far.

[Illustration: PEDLAR

_From the Stained Window in Lambeth Church_]

Let us return to the assumption that Chaucer intended the pilgrimage
from Southwark to Canterbury should take but one day. Is not this
conclusion based upon the fact that the last tale ends a day and the
journey at the same time? Is there anything to prove that the
pilgrimage could have been concluded in a day there and a day back? Why,
I have said that it was sixty-six miles, and the roads were none of the
best: the party jogged on, I am sure, picking their way over the rough
places and avoiding the quagmires at a steady pace of about three miles
an hour, with many stoppages for rest and for refreshment. When Cardinal
Morton journeyed from Lambeth to Canterbury for his enthronisation, he
took a whole week over the journey, resting for the night at Croydon,
Knole, Maidstone, Charing, and Chartham. Surely, if a company of
pilgrims could accomplish the distance in a day, the Archbishop would
not take so much as six days? Add to these considerations that Chaucer
is a perfectly 'sane' writer: his work hangs together: it would have
been impossible to get through all those stories with the intervals
between and the times for rest in a single day.

Another point occurs. There was at one time--I think--in the early days
of pilgrimage--a special service appointed for the departure of
pilgrims--a kind of consecration of the pilgrimage. There is no hint of
such a service in Chaucer or in any other writer of the time, so far as
I know. There is none in the Pilgrimage of Felix Fabri of the sixteenth
century. One may suppose, therefore, that the service had been allowed
to drop out of use. Indeed, the original character of the pilgrimage as
a thing to be approached in an altogether reverential and religious
spirit had quite gone out of it even when Chaucer wrote, not to speak of
Erasmus.

The Canterbury Tales, if they are supposed to represent the manner of
talk among the better class of people at that time, are curiously
modern. Witness the description of the Parson and the Parson's Tale,
which is a sermon: witness also the contempt and hatred of the poet for
the shrines of religion: the impostor with his relics: the Sompnour and
the Friar. Chaucer makes the two latter tell stories reflecting on each
other, such great love had these ecclesiastics between themselves. The
poet through his Parson preaches a noble form of religion without worry
over doctrine. The Parson promises, when he begins:

    I wol yow telle a mery tale in prose
    To knitte up al this feeste, and make an ende.
    And Iesu, for His grace, wit me sende
    To shewe yow the wey, in this viage,
    Of thilke parfit glorious pilgrimage
    That highte Ierusalem celestial--

and preaches a sermon on man's heavenward pilgrimage, taking for his
text the passage of Jeremiah, vi. 16: 'Stand ye in the ways, and see,
and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and
ye shall find rest for your souls.'

[Illustration: MINSTRELS A.D. 1480]

The priest Thorpe was too hard upon pilgrims. So was Erasmus. The riding
all together: the festive meals at the inn: the mixture of men and women
of all conditions: the change of thought and scene--could not but be
useful and beneficial in the monotonous life of the time. That there
were scandals: that on the way there were drinking and revelry, with the
'wanton songs' of which Thorpe complains: that there was an idle parade
of pretended relics, and an assumption of virtues and miracles for these
relics: we can also very well believe: but on the whole it seems a pity
that, when all the relics, with as much wood of the True Cross as would
load a big ship, were gathered together and burned, something was not
introduced to take the place of pilgrimages and make the people move
about and get acquainted with each other.

What, to repeat, said Archbishop Arundel to Thorpe the heretic?

'Leude losell, thou seest not ferre ynough in this matter, for thou
considerest not the great trauell of pilgremys, therefore thou blamest
that thing that is praisable. I say to the that it is right well done,
that pilgremys have with them both syngers and also pypers, that whan
one of them that goeth barfoote striketh his toe upon a stone and
hurteth hym sore, and maketh hym to blede: it is well done that he or
his felow begyn then a songe or else take out of his bosom a baggepipe
for to drive away with soche myrthe the hurt of his felow. For with
soche solace the trauell and werinesse of pilgremys is lightely and
merily broughte forth.'



CHAPTER IX

THE LADY FAIR


The fairs of London were at one time many in number. The most ancient
was that of St. Bartholomew, held in August, and annexed to the Priory
by Henry I. St. James's Fair was held for the benefit of St. James's
Lazar House: there was a Fair on Tower Hill, granted by Edward III. to
St. Katherine's Hospital: there was the Fair at Tothill Fields, founded
by Henry III.: on the South side there were Fairs at Charlton--the Horse
Fair: at Greenwich: at Camberwell: at Peckham: at Lambeth. The Lady
Fair, or the Southwark Fair, was of comparatively late foundation,
having been established in the year 1462 by a Charter of Edward IV.
empowering the City of London to hold a Fair in Southwark every year on
the 7th, 8th, and 9th days of September, with 'all the liberties to such
fairs appertaining,' together with a Court of Pie Powder. Some of the
mediæval fairs were held for the sale of special goods: that of Cloth
Fair, Bartholomew's, for instance: that of Croydon Cherry Fair: that of
Maidstone for hops: that of Royston for cheese. Most of them, however,
were general Fairs held for the sale of all kinds of goods: the shops
were booths arranged in order side by side, and in streets. One street
was for wool and woollen goods: another for hardware: another for
spices: another for silks, and so forth. The Fair did no harm to the
trade of the nearest town, for the simple reason that most towns had no
trade except in provisions and drink. To the Fair people came from all
quarters to buy or to sell: the country housewife laid in her stores of
spices, sugar, wine, furs, silks, ribbons, gloves, and everything that
she could not make at home, in these fairs. The Lady Fair of Southwark,
for instance, drew the people from all parts of the country within
reach, but mostly from Clapham, Wandsworth, Streatham, and Tooting, to
buy their stores for the coming year. There was always, from the
beginning, something of a festive nature about a Fair: the merry crowd
suggested feasting and good company: the drinking tempted one on every
side: there were eating booths as well, and gambling booths, and dancing
booths; and in every one there was music and singing.

When internal communications were improved, and people could easily ride
or drive to the neighbouring town, the permanent shop replaced the
temporary booth, and the original purpose of the Fair was lost. Then it
became, and continued until the end, merely a place of amusement, and,
until it became riotous, a place of excellent amusement. Nothing is more
ancient or more permanent than the arts and tricks and clevernesses of
the show folk. I have elsewhere remarked on the singular fact that the
comic actor never ceases out of the land: I do not mean the man who can
play a comic part to the admiration of beholders, but the man who has a
genius for bringing out the comic character in every part and in every
situation. It is the same thing with the juggler, the tumbler, the
posturer, the dancer on the rope and wire, the trainer and teacher of
animals. Dogs, monkeys, bears, horses, were all trained to perform
tricks: women danced on the tight rope: jugglers tossed knives and
balls: men fought with quarterstaff, single-sticks, rapier, or fist:
there were exhibitions of strange monsters: there were strange
creatures. The nature of the show was proclaimed by a large painted
canvas hung outside the booth.

[Illustration: BOOTH, SOUTHWARK FAIR]

Evelyn, writing on the 13th of September, 1660, says: 'I saw in
Southwark at St. Margaret's Faire, monkies and asses dance and do other
feates of activity on ye tight rope; they were gallantly clad _à la
mode_, went upright, saluted the company, bowing and pulling off their
hats; they saluted one another with as good a grace as if instructed by
a dancing-master. They turn'd heels over head with a basket having eggs
in it without breaking any; also with lighted candles in their hands and
on their heads without extinguishing them, and with vessels of water
without spilling a drop. I also saw an Italian wench daunce and performe
all the tricks of ye tight rope to admiration; all the Court went to see
her. Likewise here was a man who tooke up a piece of iron cannon of
about 400 lb. weight with the haire of his head onely.'

Pepys twice mentions Southwark Fair. The first occasion was on September
11, 1660. He only says: 'Landing at the Bear at the Bridge Foot, we saw
Southwark Fair.' Eight years later he pays the Fair a second visit, of
which he gives the following account:

'21 September, 1668. To Southwark Fair, very dirty, and there saw the
puppet-show of Whittington, which is pretty to see; and how that idle
thing do work upon people that see it, and even myself too! And thence
to Jacob Hall's dancing on the ropes, where I saw such action as I never
saw before, and mightily worth seeing; and here took acquaintance with a
fellow who carried me to a tavern, whither came the music of this booth,
and by and by Jacob Hall himself, with whom I had a mind to speak,
whether he ever had any mischief by falls in his time. He told me, "Yes,
many, but never to the breaking of a limb." He seems a mighty strong
man. So giving them a bottle or two of wine, I away.'

Hogarth has preserved for us and for our posterity a faithful picture of
Lady Fair as it was in the year 1733. As it was in the daytime,
remember, not the evening. Hogarth did not shrink from depicting scenes
because they were brutal, or debauched--the pen that drew the Rake's
midnight orgies could not plead that anything was too coarse or violent
or abandoned for representation. Had Hogarth drawn a picture of the Fair
in the evening as well as the afternoon we should have known why the
City grew more and more disgusted at the orgies of the Lady Fair until
it became impossible to tolerate it any longer.

The Fair was held in the open street, between St. Margaret's Hill and
St. George's Church. Beyond St. George's Church was open country, with a
few houses, &c., as shown in Hogarth's picture which appeared in 1733.
That part of the Fair which is shown contains two theatrical booths,
Punch's opera, and a waxwork. At one of the theatres, that of Lee and
Harper, is about to be performed Elkanah Settle's Droll of 'The Siege of
Troy.' At the other Theatre, there is a great show cloth called the
Stage Mutiny, referring to a recent dispute at Drury Lane, and the piece
promised is the 'Fall of Bajazet.' The youngest and most beautiful of
the actresses is out before the Booth with a drum, a black boy playing a
cornet, and an actor dressed for the principal part with a magnificent
wig and a towering plumed helmet. Alas! the great man is arrested at the
moment of taking the picture: at the same moment the stage outside the
booth gives way, and actors and actresses are precipitated headlong:
there will be no performance this day of 'The Fall of Bajazet.' There is
a peep show in the picture: Figg the Prizefighter rides across the
stage, his wig off, so as to show the wounds he has received: the dwarf
Savoyard plays his bagpipe and makes his dolls jump: there is the cook's
shop under the falling stage: the rope dancer Violante tumbles on the
slack rope: Cardman the aerial performer descends from the tower of St.
George's: a quack eats lighted tow: the conjurer shows some of his
tricks outside, but promises marvels inside the booth; the rustics gaze
in speechless admiration in the face of the drummer-actress: beyond, we
see the beginning of the line of booths, where everything was sold that
was of no value--toys, chapbooks, gingerbread, ribbons, cakes, whips,
canes, snuff-boxes, tobacco-boxes, worthless rings, cloth slippers,
night-caps, shoe laces, buckles, soap by the yard, singing birds and
cages for them, tinder-boxes, pewter platters and mugs. All day long the
noise went on: it began at noon: the people came from the country and
from the city: they dined in one of the booths, off roast sucking pig,
for choice, a diet consecrated to all the Fairs from time immemorial:
the children were brought and treated to a fairing, the peep-show, and
the play, and some gingerbread. In the afternoon the country lads
wrestled for a hat--you can see the hat in the picture; and the girls
ran a race for a smock--you can see the smock in the picture. When the
sun grew low the children were taken home, and the real fun of the fair
began. Then all the quiet people within hearing stopped their ears: and
all the decent people ran away: and the prentices, the rustics, the
roughs of the Mint with their correspondencies of the other sex, had
their own way until the weary players put out their footlights and lay
down to sleep as they could among the properties and scenes of their
theatre, and the people of the booths put their wares under the counters
and lay down to sleep upon them like the grocers' assistants. And then,
one supposes, the prentices, the rustics, and the rogues went home
again. And in the morning repentance and an aching head, and an empty
purse.

We may take it that all the amusements and shows which were brought out
for Bartholomew Fair, and for May Fair while it lasted, were also
exhibited at Southwark.

The 'droll,' which was a kind of acting in dumbshow to music and with
singing, was popular; dancing of all kinds formed a large part of the
Fair. In Frost's 'Old Showman,' there is an advertisement of dancing in
a booth:

'THOMAS DALE, Drawer at the Crown Tavern at Aldgate, keepeth the TURK'S
HEAD Musick Booth, in Smithfield Rounds, over against the Greyhound Inn,
during the time of Bartholomew Fair, Where is a Glass of good Wine, Mum,
Syder, Beer, Ale, and all other Sorts of Liquors, to be Sold; and where
you will likewise be entertained with good Musick, Singing and Dancing.
You will see a Scaramouch Dance, the Italian Punch's Dance, the Quarter
Staff, the Antick, the Countryman and Countrywoman's Dance, and the
Merry Cuckolds of Hogsden.

'Also a young Man that dances an Entry, Salabrand, and Jigg, and a Woman
that dances with Six Naked Rapiers, that we Challenge the whole Fair to
do the like. There is likewise a Young Woman that Dances with Fourteen
Glasses on the Backs and Palms of her Hands, and turns round with them
above an Hundred Times as fast as a Windmill turns; and another Young
Man that Dances a Jigg incomparably well to the Admiration of all
Spectators! _Vivat Rex!!_'

And in the following lines we have a scene at a Fair which we may very
well believe to be Lady Fair. They tell us

    How pedlars' stalls with glittering toys are laid,
    The various fairings of the country maid.
    Long silken laces hang upon the twine,
    And rows of pins and amber bracelets shine;
    How the neat lass knives, combs, and scissors spies,
    And looks on thimbles with desiring eyes.
    Of lotteries next with tuneful note he told,
    Where silver spoons are won, and rings of gold.
    The lads and lasses trudge the street along,
    And all the fair is crowded in his song.
    The mountebank now treads the stage, and sells
    His pills, his balsams, and his ague-spells;
    Now o'er and o'er the nimble tumbler springs,
    And on the rope the venturous maiden swings;
    Jack Pudding, in his party-coloured jacket,
    Tosses the glove, and jokes at every packet.
    Of raree-shows he sung, and Punch's feats,
    Of pockets picked in crowds, and various cheats.

The introduction of the theatre with dramas played by the King's
servants should have raised the character of the Fair. Perhaps it did.
In any case, the Theatre of the Fair was not an unpromising place for a
young actor to begin. The audience wanted nothing but the presentation
of a story, and that a strong and moving story. If an actor failed in
the fire and passion of his part, he was pelted off the stage. He was
therefore compelled to pay attention to the very essentials of his
profession, the presentation visibly and unmistakably of the emotions. A
stagey manner would be the result of too long continuance on these
boards, but at the outset no kind of practice could be more useful.
This was proved by the lovely Mrs. Horton, who was discovered by the
manager of Drury Lane playing at the Lady Fair in the play of 'Cupid and
Psyche.' He took her away and placed her on his own stage, where she
played for many years, leaving behind her a reputation of the finest
actress and the most beautiful woman known up to that time.

The Theatre of the Fair is, I think, quite gone. I rejoice in being able
to remember one of these delightful shows. There was a great booth with
a platform in front and canvas pictures hung up behind the platform. The
orchestra occupied one end of the platform, playing with zeal between
the performances. The company in their lovely dresses stood on the
platform and danced a kind of quadrille from time to time: the clown and
the pantaloon, when they were not tumbling, stood at the head of the
broad stairs clanging cymbals and bawling that the play was just about
to begin. The price of a seat was threepence, with a few rows at
sixpence: the play lasted twenty minutes: it was always a melodrama of
persecuted and virginal innocence--in white. The joy of the whole
performance was to children beyond all power of words: the play: the
music: the ethereal beauty of the actresses: the rollicking fun of the
clown: the sense of fleeting pleasure conveyed by the roughness of the
benches and the grass under our feet: and the general festivity of the
noise, the music, the bawling outside make me remember Richardson's
Theatre and Messrs. Doggett's and Penkethman's, with the greatest
pleasure and the most poignant regret.

I fear, then, that Lady Fair became, in the evening especially, a place
in which everybody went 'as he pleased,' and that with so much dancing,
drinking, love-making, singing, playing on the flowery slope that the
authorities had to interfere. It is, indeed, a most melancholy
circumstance that the people cannot be allowed to amuse themselves in
the way they would choose. May Fair first, Lady Fair next, one after
the other the Fairs of London have been suppressed. Lady Fair
succumbed in 1760, when it was finally abolished.

[Illustration: GREENWICH PARK ON WHITSUN MONDAY

(_From an Engraving by Rawle, 1802_)]

May one say a word of two other fairs even more disreputable--those of
Charlton and of Greenwich? Charlton Fair was founded in the year 1268,
so that it was a very ancient institution, to be held on three days in
the year--'the Eve, the day, and the morrow of the Trinity.' The time of
the Fair was, however, changed at some time to the day of St. Luke, on
October 18. It was one of those Fairs which acquired a distinctive
character. Just as Barnet Fair became a Horse Fair, Charlton became a
Horn Fair. The obvious--and therefore popular--kind of fooling to be
made out of horns and their associations--which are now quite lost and
forgotten--as well as the day, which was also connected with those
associations--made this Fair extremely popular. The people from London
went down to Deptford by boat, joined the people from Greenwich and
Deptford, and formed a burlesque procession, everyone wearing horns on
his head, or carrying horns to affix to some other person's head. At the
fair itself there was exhibited a great quantity of vessels and utensils
made of horn: every booth had horns put up in the front: rams' horns
were exhibited and sold in quantities; even the gingerbread was stamped
with horns. The reason of this display was one quite forgotten by the
people: viz. that a horned ox is the recognised symbol of St. Luke. It
was customary for men to dress up, for the burlesque procession, in
women's clothes; they also amused themselves (see Chambers's 'Book of
Days') in lashing the women with furze: probably in pretence only. The
procession was discontinued in 1768, the Fair went on until 1871.

We must not forget Greenwich Fair, which was held on Whit Monday. Long
after Bartholomew Fair decayed and fell, Greenwich Fair remained. It was
one of the greatest holidays of the year for the London folk of the
lower class. The amusements consisted of two parts, the first playing
in the Park, where there were races and sports: the second the fun of
the booths and the shows.

The former began early in the forenoon and went on until the evening.
The people came down from London in boats for the most part, and by the
Old Kent Road in vehicles of every description, or even on foot for the
whole five miles. If it was a fine morning the park was filled with the
working classes and the young men and maidens belonging to the working
classes. The sports were primitive: the favourite amusement was for a
line of youths and girls to run down hill hand in hand. The slope was
steep, the pace was rapid: before long half of them were sprawling
headlong or rolling over and over, with such displays and derangements
as may be imagined. Or there were games of kiss in the ring and
thread-my-needle: or there were sailors showing the Cockneys how to
dance the hornpipe; men with telescopes through which could be seen the
men hanging in chains on the Isle of Dogs, or St. Paul's Cathedral: or
there were the old pensioners telling yarns of the battles they had
fought, especially the Battle of Trafalgar, when to every man, as it
seemed, Fortune had caused the hero Nelson to fall into his arms.
Outside the Park the street was filled with booths where everything
could be bought, as at Lady Fair, which was worthless, including
gingerbread. There were theatrical booths, shows of pictures,
pantomimes, Punch and Judy, exhibitions of monsters, dwarfs, giants,
bearded ladies, mermaids, menageries of wild beasts, feats of
legerdemain, fire-eaters, boxers and quarterstaff players, cock
fighting, and every other conceivable amusement. In the evening, beside
the Theatre, there were the dancing booths. The same cause which led to
the suppression of the Lady Fair brought about that of Greenwich Fair.
It was suppressed, I think, about the year 1855. I myself saw it in
1851, but only in the afternoon, when it was already, I remember, a
good-natured crowd playing horse tricks upon each other, and making a
noise, which, with the bellowing of the show folk, the blaring of the
bands, the cries of the boys and girls on the merry-go-rounds, and the
roar of the crowd, one will never forget. For my own part I am of
opinion that the noise was the worst part of the fair: that what went on
in the evening would have gone on just as much outside the Fair as in
it: and that it did very little harm to let the people enjoy themselves
in their own way, which was a coarse, somewhat drunken and somewhat
indecent way.



CHAPTER X

ST. MARY OVERIES


London possesses two churches at least of surpassing beauty. One of
them, in the North, is the Church of St. Bartholomew the Great; the
other, in the south, is the church of St. Mary Overy or Overies, now
called St. Saviour's. This church, for some unknown reason, does not
attract many English visitors. Americans go there in great numbers. It
is so beautiful: it has so many historical associations: that I hope to
interest more of our own people, and, if it may be, to increase the
attractions of the place to the Americans, by a few pages on its
history. These pages are but a sketch, and that a slight sketch, of this
history. I have already in another volume ('London,' p. 47) given the
legend of the foundation of St. Mary Overies. Two Norman knights, Pont
de l'Arche and d'Aunsey, early in the twelfth century, found here a
small Religious House, called the House of Our Lady of the Canons, which
had been created by Mary the daughter of one Awdry, ferryman. Mary
herself was buried in the chapel of her own House, where is now the Lady
Chapel of St. Saviour's. The name, St. Mary Overies, which ought to be
restored to the Church, seems to mean, not St. Mary of the Ferry, or St.
Mary over the River, but St. Mary 'Ofers,' or St. Mary of the Bank or
Shore. These two knights founded a new and larger House on the site of
Mary Awdry's modest foundation. For reasons now difficult to discover,
if they matter to anybody, the monks of the Norman House fell into
poverty. In the year 1212, again, they had the additional misfortune to
lose these buildings and their Church, which were in great part, if not
altogether, destroyed by the great fire of that year. A hundred years
later the monks submitted to Edward I. a pitiful statement that the
whole of their possessions was insufficient so much as to provide the
bare necessities of life without the gifts of the faithful: that their
Church was lying in ruins, and had been in that condition for thirty
years; that they had been unable to rebuild any of it except the
campanile; and that they lived in constant terror of being inundated by
the Thames. This shows that they had suffered the Embankment to fall
into a neglected state. At the beginning of the fifteenth century,
Cardinal Beaufort--Shakespeare's Cardinal Beaufort--contributed largely
to the rebuilding of the Church. Another benefactor was Gower the poet,
who spent in the Priory the last years of his life, died here, and was
buried in the Church. The monument of John Gower stands in the north
aisle of the newly built nave. The Religious of the House showed their
gratitude to him by promising a Pardon of 1,500 days to anyone who would
say a prayer for the soul of the poet.

[Illustration: A SEAL OF ST. MARY OVERIES]

[Illustration: SEALS OF ST. MARY OVERIES]

The position of the Priory, close to the Palace of the Bishop of
Winchester, led to the Church becoming the scene of many important
historical events. Just as Blackfriars was used for political Functions;
just as Wyclyf was tried in St. Paul's Cathedral, so St. Mary Overies
was used on occasions when the Bishop of Winchester had to do with the
matter in hand. Thus, two great marriages were solemnised in this
Church. One was that of Edmund Holland, Earl of Kent, in 1406, with
Lucia, daughter of the Lord of Milan. The bride was given away by Henry
IV., and her dowry was 100,000 ducats. At her death she left the canons
6,000 crowns for the good of her soul and that of her husband. The other
marriage was one of far greater importance. It was that of James the
First, King of Scotland, the most pleasing figure in Scottish history, a
poet and a scholar, of whom Drummond of Hawthornden wrote that 'of
former Kings it might be said that the nation made the Kings, but of
this King, that he made the people a nation.' He married in 1424, being
then thirty years of age, after a captivity of nineteen years, Joan, or
Johanna, daughter of the Earl of Somerset, and niece of Cardinal
Beaufort. She was a cousin, therefore, of King Henry IV. The royal pair
rode forth to Scotland laden with such gifts of plate and cloth of gold
as Scotland had never before seen. They were accompanied by the Cardinal
and his brother, the Duke of Exeter. Twelve years later, the King was
murdered in the presence of his wife, who was wounded in trying to save
him, a sad ending to a marriage of love, and a tragic widowhood to the
woman whom her poet had called

    The fairest and the freshest younge flower
    That e'er I saw, methought, before that hour.

[Illustration: NORTH-EAST VIEW OF ST. SAVIOUR'S, SOUTHWARK, 1800]

In 1539 the House was suppressed, the canons were put out, and the
place was given to Sir Anthony Brown, whose son became Viscount Montague
and gave his new name to the ancient close of the Monastery. In the
following year the Church was made a Parish Church, including the church
of Mary Magdalene, which stood beside the Priory Church, as St.
Peter-le-Poor stood beside St. Austin, St. Gregory beside St. Paul's,
and St. Margaret beside Westminster Abbey Church together with the
Parish Church of St. Margaret in the High Street. The nave gradually
became ruinous and was taken down in 1838, when a new nave, the memory
of which makes the whole Borough shudder when it is mentioned, was put
up. Its floor was raised above that of the transepts, and it was treated
as a separate building, divided from the transepts by a brick wall. This
terrible building has now been taken down and a nave rebuilt after the
pattern of the original structure of the fourteenth century. Thus
reconstructed, the church will soon, it is hoped, become the Cathedral
Church of the Diocese of Southwark. At present it has not the Cathedral
organisation, being without a Dean, or Canons, or a Chapter. The Church
can boast of more monuments and of a more distinguished company of the
dead than can be found in most London churches. Here are buried,
probably, Mary herself, the original founder, if she is not a legendary
person: Pont de l'Arche and d'Auncey, the founders: a long line of
unknown and forgotten Priors and Canons of the Augustinian House: John
Gower, on whose monument can still be read the prayers he wrote for his
own soul:

    En toy qui es Filz de Dieu le Père
    Sauvé soit qui gist sous cest pierre.

[Illustration: CRYPT OF ST. MARY OVERIES]

The monument was repaired and painted in 1832 by the first Duke of
Sutherland. Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Winchester, is buried in the
Lady Chapel, where his monument can be seen in black and white marble;
Dyer the poet, who died 1607; Edmund Shakespeare, 'player,' poet and
writer, buried somewhere in the Church, 1607; Laurence Fletcher, one of
the shareholders in the Globe, also buried in the Church, 1608; Philip
Henslow, the manager, buried in the chancel, 1616; John Fletcher, buried
in the Church, 1625; Philip Massinger, a 'stranger,' _i.e._ belonging to
some other parish, buried in the Church, 1639. There are three stones in
the chancel, inscribed with the names of John Fletcher, Edmund
Shakespeare, and Philip Massinger, but merely to record that they are
buried somewhere in the Church.

[Illustration: GATEWAY OF ST. MARY'S PRIORY, SOUTHWARK, 1811

(_From a Drawing by Whichelo_)]

Other monuments and tombs there are: one a figure, commonly found in
mediæval churches, of a body wasted by death: a wooden effigy of a
knight: a monument to a quack of Charles the Second's time, and
monuments to certain persons now forgotten; on one some lines in
imitation of Herrick:

    Like to the damask rose you see
    Or like the blossom on the tree,
    Or like the dainty flower of May,
    Or like the morning of the day,
    Or like the sun, or like the shade,
    Or like the gourd which Jonas had,
      Even so is Man; Man's thread is spun,
      Drawn out, and cut, and so is done.
      The rose withers, the blossom blasteth,
      The flower fades, the morning hasteth,
      The sun sets, the shadow flies,
      The gourd consumes, and Man he dies.

The Ladye Chapel, one of the few beautiful things surviving of mediæval
London, was very nearly destroyed by the ignorant Vandalism of about the
year 1835. It was necessary in rebuilding London Bridge a few feet west
of the old Bridge to prepare new approaches on the south as well as on
the north. What follows is told by Knight:

'The Committee agreed to grant a space of sixty feet for the better
display of St. Mary Overies, on the condition that the Lady Chapel was
swept away. The matter appeared in a fair way for being thus settled,
when Mr. Taylor sounded the alarm in one of the daily papers. Thomas
Saunders, Esq., and Messrs. Cottinggam and Savage, the architects,
actively interfered. A large majority of the parishioners, however,
decided to accept the proposals of the Committee. In the meantime, the
gentlemen we have named were indefatigable in their exertions; and they
were effectively seconded by the press. At a subsequent meeting there
was a majority of three only for pulling down the chapel; and on a poll
being demanded and obtained, there ultimately appeared the large
majority of 240 for its preservation. The excitement of the hour was
prudently used to obtain funds to restore it, which has been most
successfully accomplished.'

I have mentioned Winchester House, the Palace of the Bishop, as being
close to the Priory. On any map may be traced the extent of the Palace.
On the north is Clink Street, the Clink Prison being at the west end of
the street; on the west is now Park Street, formerly Deadman's Place; on
the south is a continuation of Park Street; and on the east is a street
running south from St. Mary Overies Church. Winchester House, which thus
covered a large piece of ground, was, with its grounds, enclosed by a
wall. Many of the buildings, especially the great gate, remained
standing almost within the memory of man. The state and ceremony of a
Bishop demanded a large retinue, and the Bishop's house must therefore
be provided with a sufficient number of rooms for their accommodation.
The map must not be accepted as laying down the exact site, the
distances or the scale, or the arrangement of the courts and buildings.

We have now to speak, but briefly, of the Marian Persecutions and of the
Martyrs. With these the Church of St. Mary and Winchester House had a
good deal to do.

[Illustration: REMAINS OF THE OLD PRIORY, ST. MARY OVERIES]

On Monday, January 28, 1555, was seen the first of many melancholy
sights. On that day Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, presided at a Court
held in St. Mary Overies Church for the trial of heretics. The court was
actually held in the Ladye Chapel. Hither were brought Bishop Hooper and
John Rogers: they were heard: they argued their case: they were found
obstinate: they were committed to the Clink Prison hard by: on the next
day, with Bradford, Dr. Crome, Dr. Saunders, Dr. Ferrar, Dr. Taylor, and
several others, they were sentenced to be burned. Bradford wrote to
Cranmer after the trial: 'This day, I think, or to-morrow at the
uttermost, hearty Hooper, sincere Saunders, and trusty Taylor, end their
course and receive their crowne. The next am I, which hourly looke for
the Porter to open me the gates after them, to enter into the desired
rest.'

So began those fires from which the cause of Roman Catholicism long
suffered, and is even now still suffering. For the popular judgment does
not discern and separate. The burnings under Henry and Edward are lumped
together in the mind of the people, and all set down to Mary. The names,
places, and times of the martyrs and their martyrdoms as given by
Machyn, not by Fox, show that if the Queen's advisers had deliberately
done their best to make their form of Faith odious and hateful, they
could not have devised a better plan than the burning of the people for
religion's sake. It is generally thought and believed that the
indignation of the people was aroused by seeing the Bishops and
preachers burned. That I do not believe. The executions of great men do
not affect the populace; they witness the passage of a Thomas More on
his way to the block: or of a Cromwell: with equal indifference: these
statesmen do not belong to the life of the people. In the Marian
persecution they heard that Archbishop Cranmer had been burned at
Oxford, but they offered little outward show of emotion: they heard that
Ridley and Latimer had been burned: their constancy, no doubt, touched
the crowd: but still, these martyrs were not of themselves. When,
however, they found that not only Bishops and great people, but also
their own brothers, cousins, fathers, were taken out from their
workshops and tied three or four together to the stake, where they
suffered the agonies of the fire and still continued to pray aloud with
firmness: then the lesson went straight home to them; and for many a
generation to come the people learned to loathe the very name of the
religion which could thus burn innocent people by the hundred for
believing, as they were told, what the Bible taught.

It is a mistake, again, to suppose that the lessons of persecution were
taught at Smithfield alone. They were industriously taught from many
centres. There were burnings at Stratford-le-Bow: at Stepney: at
Westminster: beyond St. George's, Southwark, at Newington; while the
vast crowds which attended a burning and imbibed these lessons of fear
and hatred are shown by two entries alone in Machyn's Diary, 1556. 'The
xxvij day of June rod from Newgate unto Stratford-a-bow, in iii cares
xiij, xj men and ij women, and there bornyd (burned) to iiij postes, and
there where a xx M pepull.'

[Illustration: TOMB OF BISHOP ANDREWS, ST. MARY OVERIES]

And again, 1556. 'The xxij day of January whent in to Smythfield to
berne between vii and viij in the morning v men and ij women: on of the
men was a gentyllman of the endor tempull, ys nam Master Grén; and they
were all bornyd by ix at iij postes. And ther wher a commonment
throughe London over nyght that no young folke shuld come ther, for
ther the grettest number was as has byne sene at swyche a tyme.'

Therefore it is evident, first, that enormous crowds gathered together
to witness the sufferings of the victims, and to note their constancy in
the hour of agony; secondly, that the authorities were becoming alarmed
at the effect which these examples might have upon the young. No young
people were permitted to be present. We may be sure that the prohibition
was openly defied.

As for Gardiner, he died soon after the martyr fires began, stricken,
said his enemies, by the hand of God in punishment for his cruelties.
His physicians, I believe, called it gout in the stomach, a reading
which one prefers, because Gardiner was no worse than the rest of them,
and after his death there was no abatement, but rather an increase, in
the burnings. He had, however, a very fine funeral, which began at the
church of St. Mary Overies, and was continued all the way to Winchester,
where the place of his burial and his Chantry Chapel may still be seen.

Of this function, Machyn gives a short account, but it shall suffice. It
must be remembered that Gardiner was not only a very great person, but
that he was also believed to be the natural son of Bishop Woodville,
and, if the belief was well founded, he was therefore a cousin of the
Queen. But this may be scandal. Machyn, the chronicler of funerals, thus
describes Gardiner's funeral.

[Illustration: A CORNER IN ST. SAVIOUR'S, SOUTHWARK]

'The xxiiij day of Feybruary was the obsequies of the most reverentt
father in God, Sthevyn Gardener, docthur and bysshope of Wynchastur,
prelett of the gartter, and latte chansseler of England, and on of the
preve consell unto Kyng Henry the viij and unto quen Mare, tyll he ded;
and so the after-none be-gane the knyll at sant Mare Overes with
ryngyng, and after be-gane the durge; with a palle of cloth of gold, and
with ij whytt branchys, and ij dosen of stayffe-torchys bornyng, and
iiij grett tapurs; and my lord Montyguw the cheyffe mornar, and my lord
bysshope of Lynkolne and ser Robart Rochaster, comtroller, and with
dyvers odur in blake, and mony blake gownes and cotes; and the morow
masse of requeem and offeryng done, be-gane the sarmon; and so masse
done, and so to dener to my lord Montyguw ('s); and at ys gatt the corse
was putt in-to a wagon with iiij welles all covered with blake, and ower
the corsse ys pyctur mad with ys myter on ys hed, with ys armes, and v
gentyll men bayryng ys v banars in gownes and hods, then ij harolds in
ther cote armur, master Garter and Ruge-crosse; then cam the men rydyng,
carehyng of torchys a lx bornyng, at bowt the corsse all the way; and
then cam the mornars in gownes and cotes, to the nombur unto ij C. a-for
and be-hynd, and so at sant Gorges cam prestes and clarkes with crosse
and sensyng, and ther thay had a grett torche gyffyn them, and so to
ever parryche tyll they cam to Wynchaster, and had money as many as cam
to mett them, and durge and masse at evere logyng.'

[Illustration: ST. SAVIOUR'S, SOUTHWARK, 1790]

The Church, when the Priory was dissolved, stood on the south side of
the monastic buildings: the Cloister occupied that part of the ground on
the north of the nave: the refectory, chapter house and dormitories, and
other buildings stood about the Cloister: an embankment kept off the
Thames at high tide: on the west side was St. Mary Overies Dock, which
was also the south end of the ferry. The dock is there still, but where
the wall of the Monastery stood, round the Garden, and one could see the
orchards beyond, are now huge warehouses. Some remains of the Cloister
stood until recently, and one gateway of the precinct--there was
certainly another on the side of the High Street--stood close to the
west front of the Church. The Cloister received the name of Montagu
Close, after the son of Sir Thomas Brown who became Viscount Montagu. If
you pass round to the north of the Church you will now find a few
fragments piled up, the indication of an ancient door in the wall of the
Church; but all traces of the monastic buildings are entirely swept
away.

The ground in front of the Church is also changed. In post-Reformation
times there was a school here--St. Saviour's school; there were also
almshouses; there was a peaceful quiet kind of close, in which was heard
the buzz of the boys in school; one saw the bedesmen creeping along in
the sun; one watched the crumbling ruins falling fast into decay: one
wondered where in the narrow churchyard or in the Church lay the bones
of Massinger and Fletcher: one seemed to see Bishop Hooper and John
Rogers stepping forth into the sunlight, their trial over, their
sentence passed: their cheeks, perhaps, somewhat flushed, their eyes
somewhat brightened, because, even with such a faith as theirs, all a
man's courage must be wanted to face the agony of the flames, through
which for half an hour they would have to wade, as Christian waded
through the river, before they reached the shore beyond.



CHAPTER XI

THE SHOW FOLK


Southwark was a city of a various population. It had great Houses for
nobles and for Ecclesiastics: it had fair inns for the reception of
merchants, coming up from Kent and the south country: it had a riverside
people of fishermen and watermen living up stream on the Lambeth bank or
down stream at Bermondsey or Rotherhithe: it had a great number of
residents who worked in the orchards and the gardens which spread over
the whole of the rich low-lying land now embanked, secure from floods
and the highest tides. It contained, besides, a large number of rogues
and vagabonds, fugitives from justice, lying here in so-called
sanctuary, where the officers of the law did not dare to present
themselves. In spite of the powers granted to the City over Southwark,
the place remained a receptacle and a refuge 'down to the end of the
last century, when the so-called Liberties of the Mint'--the last place
of sanctuary--were finally abolished and only a slum remained to mark
the site of a sanctuary.

[Illustration: WINCHESTER PALACE]

Beside all these people Southwark contained the Show Folk of Bankside.
When the Show Folk began to live in Bankside I know not: their
settlement originally was in Westminster outside the King's Palace,
where there was always a great demand for music, dancing, tumbling,
mumming and such recreative performances; they were also, however, in
great request in London by City Church, city company, and city tavern.
Now there was no place for them within the walls: they had no company:
there was neither a Musicians'; nor a Dancers'; nor a Singers'; nor a
Mummers'; nor a Tumblers' Company. There was no company which would
admit them; there was no ward where they could get a street for
themselves: they were gently but firmly pushed out. And not only were
they a class apart but they were a class in contempt. It was always held
contemptible to provide amusement. No one, as yet, had made of music or
of acting a fine art; no gentleman, as yet, and for a long time after,
would take part in the buffoonery which the actor had then to exhibit:
an atmosphere of disrepute attached to the calling, to those who
followed the calling, and to the place where they lived: in the City,
Aldermen had a way of connecting nocturnal disorders with these children
of melody: where they resorted the taverns would carry on their
revelries after curfew, even to midnight: if the street was alarmed by
nocturnal ramblers it would prove to be after an evening with the
dancers and the tumblers: the Church, especially the Church Puritanic,
set her face against those who devised entertainments, on the ground
that the devisers were an ungodly and dissolute crew. Therefore they
crossed the river. On Bankside, in the Liberty of the Clink, where the
City could not interfere, they 'went as they pleased.' They were
dissolute, if they chose--Heaven knows whether they did choose--without
reproach: their taverns kept open house as long as they would stop to
drink: there was singing every day without interference: there was
merriment without the rebuke of the sour face: there was no fear of
being haled before the Lord Mayor, for making people laugh: there was no
terror of pillory, and no man on their side of the river was 'put in
stocks o' Monday, for kissing of his wife o' Sunday.' It was the Bishop
of Winchester's Liberty, but he was content, on the whole, to leave the
residents unmolested and in the possession of their guitars, their
fiddles, their songs and their plays.

[Illustration: THE GLOBE THEATRE

(_From the Crace Collection_)]

When the Show Folk were wanted in the City it was easy for them to go
across: they were ready at a moment's notice to arrange a pageant, or to
take part in one: they could provide the beauteous maidens in white with
long fair tresses who stood on platforms in Chepe and scattered gold
rose nobles made of paste on the heads of the crowd: they found hermits,
and constructed caves for those godly men in the midst of Gracious
Street: they found the music for the dragging of the traitor on a
hurdle: for the march of the rogue to the pillory: for the riding of the
Lord Mayor: for the procession of the Company on its feast day. For a
miracle play they presented the parish church with the Fall of Man: the
Raising of Lazarus: the Pilgrims of Emmaus: David and Goliath: or any
other episode from the Bible--how many excellent players there were
among them whose names have long since been forgotten! They knew how to
present a Masque--not, perhaps, with the same splendour as one by Ben
Jonson and Inigo Jones--who commanded the King's purse--but a neat and
creditable affair, with dresses appropriate, full of surprises, and
furnished with mythological characters, for the Hall of a City Company
on the day of the Annual Feast. For young gentlemen of the more
debauched kind they had another kind of entertainment, with singing,
dancing girls, tumbling and posturing; with rare jests--pity they were
not rarer--and excellent fooling by their clowns. The modern art of
acting did not begin at the Globe Theatre: there has never been any time
when the actor was unknown: the only difference is that he was not
formerly allowed to be anything but a buffoon: that he had little but
buffoonery in his _répertoire_: and now he is an artist and scorns the
tricks of the buffoon. Nor is the art of entertainment of modern
invention. The Company of Parish Clerks, for instance, were great
promoters of sacred plays. Their poets--whose names are entirely
lost--provided the words and arranged the scenes; the members of the
company played the parts: the Show Folk 'mounted' the piece: they
provided the monsters; the red flames for the mouth of Hell; the troops
of angels or of devils, the stage business and the music. Many of the
Parish Churches had their annual play on their Saint's Day. Thus the
Parish Church of St. Margaret, which was taken down when St. Mary
Overies' became St. Saviour's, had its play on St. Margaret's Day (July
20), and often another on the Day of St. Lucy (December 13) as well. We
have already observed that the Londoner of old never made any difference
in the matter of Play or Pageant whether the time was summer or winter.
He was like the Scythian, face all over: he felt no cold: he held his
Riding, or his Coronation Procession, quite as readily in December as in
July.

Another kind of Show Folk, but rougher and more brutal, were the people
who looked after the bears and the dogs. Bull baiting, bear baiting,
sometimes horse baiting, together with badger baiting, duck hunting,
cock throwing, dog fighting and cock fighting, were the chosen and
common sports of the people. Baiting of every kind there was wherever
there were dogs and bulls and badgers, but the centre and headquarters
of the sport was South London, in the place called Paris Gardens. The
popularity of the sport is shown by the simple facts that there was not
only bull and bear baiting in Paris Gardens, but also two rings or
amphitheatres for bull and bear baiting outside the gardens behind
Bankside, and that in the High Street itself, nearly opposite St.
George's Church, there was permanently established the bull ring to
which an animal could be tied whenever one was found fit for the purpose
of affording an hour's sport by the madness of his rage or the agonies
of his death.

The present Blackfriars Bridge Road cuts through the site of Paris
Gardens, leaving a portion on either side. They extended to the distance
of about a quarter of a mile south of the river: sluggish streams and
ditches ran across and round the gardens, which were so thickly planted
with trees as to be dark in the summer. Both in summer and winter the
place was noisome with exhalations from the marshy soil. These gardens
were the chief home of the rough and cruel sports already mentioned:
here were kept under the King's bearward the King's dogs; the Mayor's
dogs; and the bears whom they baited. It does not appear that bulls were
also kept here: for baiting purposes it was generally a young bull that
was chosen, and he was baited to death. The bears were not killed, they
were all known to the people by name, such as Harry Hunks and Sackerson,
and were valued in proportion to the sport they afforded. The dogs, who
with the bears were fed upon the offal and refuse brought over every day
from the Shambles of Newgate, were incredibly fierce and savage. In
these days we hardly know what a savage dog is, even the bull dog has
become peaceful: formerly, the best defender of the house was the dog
who was unloosed at night: they fed him chiefly on meat: he was trained
to fly at the throat of a stranger: he was a terror to wayfarers--remember
the dog in the second part of the 'Pilgrim's Progress:' he was always
biting and rending some one: he had the ferocity of the wolf redeemed
only by affection for his master: we have no such dogs in these days.
Accompanied by one or two such fierce mastiffs or bull dogs who feared
no one but their master, a man might journey from end to end of the
country armed with nothing but a club. Such a dog would fight and would
overcome a man. Kept in the kennels, with insufficient exercise, with
stimulating food, the creatures became fiercer than wolves and stronger
than tigers. The bull they loved to bait: he had horns and hoofs to
dodge: but the bear afforded the best sport both for man and dog: he
presented a nose and ears and a thick fur on which to spring, and to
fasten the canine teeth upon. What joy to hang on to those ears, torn
and bleeding, the whole dog quivering with rapture even though in the
end one stroke of the bear's hind paw dragged out the inside of the dog,
with the heart and the breath of life!

It was a Royal sport, a sport offered to ambassadors. In a contemporary
Diary it is related that the French Ambassadors, on May 25, 1559, were
entertained at Court with a dinner, and after dinner with a bull and
bear baiting, the Queen herself looking on from a gallery: the next day
they were taken down the river to see the bull and bear baiting at Paris
Gardens. Forty years later James the First entertained the Spanish
Ambassador after dinner with the bears fighting with greyhounds and with
a bull baiting. About the same time the Duke of Wirtemberg paid a visit
to London and saw the baiting at Paris Gardens:

'On the 1st of September his Highness was shown in London the English
dogs, of which there were about 120, all kept in the same enclosure, but
each in a separate kennel.

'In order to gratify his Highness, and at his desire, two bears and a
bull were baited; at such times you can perceive the breed and mettle of
the dogs, for although they receive serious injuries from the bears,
are caught by the horns of the bull, and tossed into the air so as
frequently to fall down again upon the horns, they do not give in, [but
fasten on the bull so firmly] that one is obliged to pull them back by
the tails, and force open their jaws. Four dogs at once were set on the
bull; they, however, could not gain any advantage over him, for he so
artfully contrived to ward off their attacks that they could not well
get at him; on the contrary, the bull served them very scurvily by
striking and butting at them.'

[Illustration: BEAR GARDEN]

And another contemporary account of a bear baiting is furnished by
Hentzner in 1598:

'There is still another place, built in the form of a Theatre, which
serves for the baiting of bears and bulls: they are fastened behind, and
then worried by those great English dogs (_quos linguâ vernaculâ
"Docken" appellant_), and mastiffs, but not without great risks to the
dogs from the teeth of the one and the horns of the other, and it
sometimes happens they are killed on the spot: fresh ones are
immediately supplied in the places of those that are wounded or tired.
To this entertainment there often follows that of whipping a blinded
bear, which is performed by five or six men, standing in a circle with
whips, which they exercise upon him without any mercy; although he
cannot escape from them because of his chain, he nevertheless defends
himself vigorously, throwing down all who come within his reach and are
not active enough to get out of it, tearing the whips out of their hands
and breaking them. At these spectacles, and everywhere else, the English
are constantly smoking the Nicotian weed, which in America is called
_Tobaca_--others call it _Pœtum_--[i.e. _Petun_, the Brazilian name for
Tobacco, from which the allied beautiful plant 'Petunia' derives its
appellation,] and generally in this manner: they have pipes on purpose
made of clay, into the farther end of which they put the herb, so dry
that it may be rubbed into powder, and lighting it, they draw the smoke
into their mouths, which they puff out again through their nostrils like
funnels, along with it plenty of phlegm and defluxion from the head. In
these Theatres, fruits, such as apples, pears and nuts, according to the
season, are carried about to be sold, as well as wine and ale.'

Bear baiting was so popular that fellows roamed about the country
leading a bear which they offered to be baited for so much an hour at
the inns which they passed. The master of the 'King's Game' had power to
seize upon any mastiff dogs, bears, or bulls for the King's service and
to bait in any place within his dominions. Henslow and Alleyn, both
actors, were also masters of the King's Game: they had licence to
apprehend all vagrants travelling with bears and bulls.

There was another place where the refining influence of the bear baiting
might be enjoyed. Its site is still preserved in the lane called Bear
Garden Alley. In Agas's map of 1560 an amphitheatre is shown called the
'Bear Baiting:' a little to the west another amphitheatre is seen called
the 'Bull Baiting.' Whether these places were the only buildings
erected for this amusement or whether they were put up in addition to
the place in Paris Gardens is a point for the antiquary. It is learnedly
discussed by Mr. Ordish ('Early London Theatres'). The Spanish
Ambassador in 1544 describes a bear baiting--but he does not say exactly
where he saw it. 'On the other side of the town' is vague. I think,
however, that he must mean Paris Gardens:

'On the other side of the town we have seen seven bears, some of them
very large; they are driven into a circus, where they are confined by a
long rope, while large and courageous dogs are let loose upon them as if
to be devoured, and a fight takes place. It is not bad sport to witness
the conflict. The large bears contend with three or four dogs, and
sometimes one is victorious and sometimes the other; the bears are
ferocious and of great strength, and not only defend themselves with
their teeth, but hug the dogs so closely with their forelegs, that, if
they were not rescued by their masters, they would be suffocated. At the
same place a pony is baited, with a monkey on its back, defending itself
against the dogs by kicking them; and the shrieks of the monkey, when he
sees the dogs hanging from the ears and neck of the pony, render the
scene very laughable.'

In the year 1550 Crowley, the author of certain 'Epigrams' against
abuses, mentions Paris Gardens (see Stow and Strype, 1758, vol. ii. p.
8).

                  Every Sunday they will spend
    One penny or two, the bearward's living to mend.
    At Paris Gardens each Sunday, a man shall not fail
    To find two or three hundred for the bearward's vale.

Later on there was certainly an amphitheatre in Paris Gardens, because
an accident happened there.

'The same 13th day of Januarie, being Sunday about foure of the clock in
the afternoon, the old and under-propped scaffolds round about the Beare
Garden, commonly called Paris Garden, on the south side of the great
river Thames over against the citie of London, over-deluged with people,
fell suddenly downe, whereby to number of eight persons, men and women,
were slaine and many others sore hurt and bruised to the shortening of
their lives. A friendly warning to all that delight themselves in the
cruelties of beastes than in the workes of mercy, the fruits of a true,
professed faith, which ought to be the Sabbath dayes exercise.' (Stow's
'Annals,' continued by Hawes.)

The amphitheatre would hold a thousand people.

The sport had other dangers: the bear, for instance, might get loose.
Once the blind bear got loose: it was on December 9, 1554, and on the
Bankside, probably at the amphitheatre outside Paris Gardens. He caught
a serving man by the leg 'and bytt a grate pesse away, and after by the
hokyll bone, that within iii days after he ded' (Machyn).

Wherever such sports were carried on there must needs spring up a rabble
rout who made their living by them: the bearward, the serving man who
kept the kennels, fed the dogs, exercised the dogs, fed the bears,
looked after the amphitheatre, took the money, and above all provided
the drink. In the little lane now called the Bear Garden, there is a
small square place which I take to be the survival of an open court in
front of the circus. There is here a small tavern: the house itself is
not ancient, but I believe that it stands on the site of the house which
provided wine and beer for the spectators of the bear baiting. These
sports, with others such as wrestling and fighting: these great crowds
of people gathering together: the music which accompanied everything:
caused the creation of taverns and drinking-places. Another attraction
to the place may be only hinted at in these pages. Suffice it to say
that all the profligate, all the debauched, all the rowdy, all the
lovers of sport among the citizens of London crossed over to Bankside
every evening in the summer and every Sunday in the winter, and there
they frolicked, drank, sang, quarrelled, fought, and tortured animals to
their hearts' content.

It is pleasant to think of Bankside and the fields beyond it--the
pleasure garden of London. It was easy to get into the open country on
every side of the City walls, but there was no place so pleasant as the
Lambeth Marsh and the Bankside: none that offered so many and such
various attractions. The flag flying over the Theatre proclaimed that a
play was forward: the number of those who loved the play more than the
baiting increased daily: there was never a time when the citizens did
not love the green fields and the woods: and these lay behind Paris
Gardens and the Bank, beyond the barking of the dogs and the roar of the
crowd and the blare of the music and the stink of the kennels. Every
summer evening the river was crowded with the boats taking the people
across to the stairs upon the Bank between St. Mary Overies and Old
Barge House Stairs: innumerable were the boats. As for the watermen,
John Taylor, the water poet, says that there were 40,000 of them plying
between Windsor and Gravesend, while the number of people who were
carried over every day to the plays on Bankside was three or four
thousand. Forty thousand seems an enormous number, but we must remember
that there were no docks: that ships were laden and unladen in mid
stream by barges and boats: that the Thames was the highway between
London and all riverside places; between London and Westminster; between
London and Southwark, because even if one lived close to the bridge it
was easier and quicker to be taken across by a boat than to walk over
the bridge. The conveyance of three or four thousand people across the
river every day would not want more than a thousand boats or two
thousand watermen: at the same time the loss of their custom, which
happened when the people went to Blackfriars instead of the Bank for
their play, would be felt by the whole fraternity of watermen.

We have arrived at the time when the bear baiting attracted less than
the play acting: when the amphitheatres were turned into theatres: and
when Bankside became the residence of the poets and the players. They
came; unfortunately the other people did not go away. There remained the
tribe of them who made the music and found the dancers and the tumblers,
the mummers and the conjurers: there remained the men--a rough and
brutal lot--who looked after the bears and the dogs: the men who wielded
quarterstaff and showed sword play, a swaggering and bullying company:
there remained the young bloods who came over from their peaceful shops
and warehouses to enjoy the sport and the conversation and talk of the
place: there remained the ribald crew of men and women who naturally
belong to such gatherings. There was another population at Westminster
outside the King's House like unto this at Southwark: these, too,
existed for the amusement of the King's courtiers and men-at-arms. The
Southwark folk existed for the amusements of not the highest class of
London City. The poets came, therefore, to this place in order to be
near these theatres: they brought no improvement in example, in morals,
or in manners: they lived among the people, and their lives were mostly
as disorderly and their morals as loose as the company among whom they
walked and talked.

Southwark in the early sixteenth century, it may be noted, consisted of
two parts, the one wholly distinct from the other. The first part was
the High Street with its four churches of St. George's, St. Margaret's,
St. Olave's, and St. Mary Overies: in the High Street were the two
Debtors' Prisons: in the High Street was the ancient hospital: there
also was the long succession of inns, stately, ample, frequented by
merchants and capable of stabling an immense number of packhorses, and
of receiving as many waggons as could fill the courtyard. The Palaces
were mostly gone, turned into inns or tenements. The whole place was a
great House of Call. It had no industries, it had no crafts: it had no
civic or corporate existence. But it was respectable.

The other part lay on the west of the High Street, stretching along the
river nearly as far as Lambeth. This was the disreputable quarter, the
place of amusement: the people who lived there, one and all, made the
providing of amusement, pleasure and excitement their means of
livelihood. It was like a never-ending fair where nothing was sold, and
there were no booths except those of Ursula, with roast sucking pig,
black puddings, custards, and gingerbread. From every tavern all day
long came the tinkling of the guitar and the trolling of some lusty
voice and the silvery notes of a girl who sang like the wood pigeon
because nature taught her. Here marched along the bear rolling his head
from side to side, a monkey chattering on his back, the tabor and pipe
going before him. After him came the dogs straining at the chain which
held them, barking madly in anticipation of the fight. Or it was a young
bull who was led by two men to the ring where he would defend his life
as long as the dogs allowed; or it was the arrival at Falcon Stairs of
boats by the dozen, each turning out its complement of citizens and
their wives, who made for the theatre where the flag was flying. On the
open bank were placed tables for those who drank: the balladmonger sang
his songs and sold them afterwards: the posturer spread his carpet and
went through his performance: the boys cried nuts and apples: the drawer
ran about and filled his cans. In no other part of London was there a
scene of greater animation and cheerfulness than on Bankside, on an
afternoon or evening in the summer. And then to go home again across the
broad and peaceful river at full tide, when the sun was set, and the
river, like the sky, was aglow, and the people sang softly in the boats,
and still from Bankside came the dying snatches of music, the soft
breath of the cornet, and the tingling touch of the harp, and the
voices of those who sang, and the baying of the hounds from Paris
Gardens.

The early history of the playhouses on the Bank involves many questions,
and may be safely left to the antiquarian historian. The reader will
find most of these questions raised and settled in a book, already
quoted here, by Mr. T. Fairman Ordish ('Early London Theatres'). It
appears, however, that there were players, if not playhouses, here as
early as 1547. After the death of Henry VIII. Gardiner proposed to have
a solemn dirge in memory of the King, but, he complained to the Council,
the players of Southwark say that they also will have a 'solemn playe to
trye who shall have most resorts, they in game, or I in earnest.'

Whether these players had a regular theatre, or whether they acted in
the courtyard of an inn, or whether they had a moveable stage, I do not
know. It is, however, quite certain that before the end of the sixteenth
century there were four theatres in Bankside--the _Rose_, whose site was
somewhere in Rose Alley: the _Hope_ in Bear Garden Lane: the _Swan_ in
Paris Gardens--that is, on the west side of the Blackfriars Road, not
far from the Bridge: and the _Globe_. The site of the Globe is generally
allowed to have been at a spot 150 feet south of Park Street, close to
the Southwark Bridge Road, and on the east of it. For twenty years, more
or less, the stream of playgoers was turned steadily and continuously to
the Theatres in Bankside, and poet and player lived beside the theatre,
and the place was the pleasure resort of the people, and the haunt of
sporting men, and the school of the citizens, in history at least: and
the pride and glory of London for its dramatists, if the people knew:
and the sink and shame of London for the iniquities and villanies
practised there: the debauchery and the shamelessness of those who lived
upon the Bank.

The Plague, not only of 1603 and of 1625, but those milder attacks
which threatened from time to time were a deadly enemy to the players,
for then the theatre must be closed and the Bear Garden too, for in
crowds there was infection. Think what it meant to close these places of
resort. The Elizabethan theatres maintained almost as many persons as
our own: there were the players proper--the Company: there were the
servants 'in the front' and the servants behind, the 'supers,' the money
takers, the boys who went round selling nuts and cakes, wine and ale,
new books and tobacco: there were the watermen required to carry the
audience to and fro. Why, the shutting of the Theatres must have thrown
out of employ many hundreds of men, and, if we consider their wives and
families, many thousands of people. Can we wonder if the players, one
and all, were Cavaliers, and were ready to fight for the side which
allowed them their daily bread?

[Illustration: The Bear Garden and Hope Theatre, 1616]

But Fortune was against them. The Puritanic spirit prevailed. When the
Parliament conquered, the theatres were doomed. And in 1655, by command
of Thomas Pride, High Sheriff of Surrey, the seven bears of Paris
Gardens were shot by a company of soldiers. In the same year it is
mentioned that the Hope Theatre had been destroyed to make room for
tenements.

The profession of actor in a time when the Puritanic spirit was rapidly
growing stronger could not possibly be held in good repute. There was
dancing in it: music: mockery: merriment: satire: low comedy: all these
things the misguided flock enjoyed and the shepherd deplored. The Mayor,
long before the Theatres were suppressed, would never allow a theatre to
be set up within his jurisdiction: had that jurisdiction extended beyond
the various Bars: had there not, fortunately, happened to exist certain
illogical and absurd Liberties and Precincts, in which the Mayor had no
authority, there would have been no theatres in the neighbourhood of
London, and therefore no Elizabethan drama, no Shakespeare, no Ben
Jonson, no Massinger, no Fletcher. As things happened, we have to note
the very remarkable fact that while the popular love for the theatre
increased year by year; while the theatre became the teacher of history,
the satirist of manners, the home of music and of poetry; the ministers
and preachers thundered perpetually against it, yet prevailed not at
all, until the Civil War broke out, and the power fell into the hands of
the Puritans. For instance, one John Field, the father of one of the
most famous players, Nathan Field, wrote to the Earl of Leicester as
early as 1585 reviling him for having interfered 'on the behalf of evil
men as of late you did for players, to the great griefe of all the
godly,' and adjuring him not to encourage their wickedness, and 'the
abuses that are wont to be nourished by those impure interludes and
plays.' And the same divine, two years later, wrote an attack upon the
theatre in consequence of the accident at Paris Gardens which has been
already mentioned. The theatre was forcibly suppressed in the Civil War,
but it was never forgotten, and the moment that the Restoration allowed
it was opened again. But to our day the old Puritanism continues, in a
now feeble and impotent way, to consider the Theatre as the chosen home
of the Devil.

[Illustration: INTERIOR OF THE OLD SWAN THEATRE]

Nathan Field, though the son of such a father, was ready to meet all
comers in defence of the stage. In 1616 one Sutton, Preacher at St. Mary
Overies, denounced the Theatre and all connected with it. Field answered
him manfully, telling him plainly that he, the preacher, is disloyal, in
preaching from his pulpit against people who are licensed and
patronised by the King. The players were at all times equal to the task
of covering the preacher with derision; but derision seldom convinces or
converts.

The general opinion of players remains that they have at all times been
a penniless tribe, eating the 'corn in the green;' borrowing; spending
their money in riotous living. This opinion is not by any means always
true. The musician, the mummer, the dancer, and the tumbler were all
regarded much in the same light; they were despised; they did not fight
like the soldier; they did not produce like the craftsman; they did not,
like the priest, say mass and forgive sins; they did not heal the sick;
they knew no law; their only function in the world was to amuse; to make
men laugh. It is very remarkable that directly the players ceased to be
dependent on noble lords, as soon as they appealed to the public and
received money from those who came to see them perform, they became
prudent men of business. They may have been a cheerful tribe; they were,
however, well to do, and, so far as can be learned, a thrifty tribe.
They made money, not by writing plays, nor by acting them, but by being
shareholders in the company with which they played. Burbage, Alleyn,
Heminge, Sly, Field, Schanke, not to speak of Shakespeare, all appear to
have lived in comfort, and to have died possessed of moderate fortunes.

The poets, certainly, continued, as poets have always been, penniless
and in debt. By the end of the sixteenth century the earliest of the
dramatic poets, Marlowe, Peele, Nash, Greene--that turbulent roystering
profligate band whom everybody loved while everybody reproved--had
passed away. The early extravagance vanished. The later poets, Ben
Jonson, Beaumont, Fletcher, Massinger, led more godly lives. Yet they
were often harassed for want of money. Three of them, Massinger, Field
and Daborne, write to Henslow asking for an advance of 5_l._ on the
security of a play which is worth ten pounds in addition to what they
have had. All those, in fact, were poor, and remained poor, who
attempted to live by poetic literature alone.

The poets have had enough attention paid to them: let us consider the
Company of Actors who played at the Globe and the Rose, the Hope and the
Lion, and lived on and near the Bankside. The books of St. Saviour's
(see Rendle's 'Southwark,' App. p. 26) are full of references to the
actors who died and were buried here, whose children were baptised here
or buried here. The name of William Shakespeare, unfortunately, does not
occur. Among the actors, and first and chief, was Richard Burbage--like
Shakespeare, a Warwickshire man. In person he was under the middle
stature, and grew fat and scant of breath. But no actor of the time had
so great a power over his audience. It was his father who built the very
first permanent theatre--called The Theatre at Shoreditch. In
consequence of a dispute with the landlord, he pulled down the house,
carried the timbers across the river to Bankside, and set up the Globe.

There was Kempe, the low comedian, who succeeded Tarlton in that line.
He was a great dancer: on one occasion he danced all the way from
Norwich to London, taking nine days for the work: he was accompanied by
one Thomas Sly, who played the tabor and the pipe for him. As he passed
through the villages the girls came running out to dance with him along
the road till he tired them out. He was a fellow of infinite drollery,
with jokes and acting such as pleased the 'groundlings' well. There was
a kind of entertainment popular at the time called a jig. It was a
monologue for the most part, but might be played by two or more, in
which the words were interrupted by songs and dances: the jig was like
the farce which used to be played after the tragedy. This worthy lived
in Bankside, but I believe there is no record of his death.

Another excellent player was John Lowin or Lewin. He also lived in the
Liberty of the Clink. But he lived too long. He survived the
suppression of Theatres, and in his old age had no craft or art or
mastery by which to earn his bread save that which was proscribed. He
wrote for assistance to a patron, and he quoted the lover's words
applied to the beggar:

    Silence in love betrays more woe
      Than words, though ne'er so witty;
    The beggar that is dumb, you know,
      Deserves a double pity.

Among the low comedians Robert Armin must not be forgotten. He attracted
Tarlton's attention when a mere boy. The veteran comedian adopted him
and taught him. I know not whether he, or Kempe, was the true successor
to that unrivalled buffoon. He is described by some rhymester as--

    Honest gamesome Robert Armin,
    That tickles the spleen like a harmless vermin.

I have already mentioned Nathan Field the player: he was also Nathan
Field the dramatist. He brought into the latter profession the
carelessness about money that belonged to the former. There are
indications--only indications, it is true--that there was in him
something of the temperament of a Micawber, or a Harold Skimpole, a
constitutional inability to understand the meaning of addition and
subtraction or the translation of money into its equivalent in eating
and drinking. He took a wife when he was no longer quite young, and he
became jealous. Hence the epigram, 'De Agello et Othello:'

    Field is, in sooth, an actor: all men know it;
    And is the true Othello of the poet:
    I wonder if 'tis true, as people tell us,
    That like the character he is most jealous.
    If it be so, and many living sweare it,
    It takes not little from the actor's merit,
    Since, as the Moor is jealous of his wife,
    Field can display the passion to the life.

Who remembers John Schanke? He, like Kempe and Armin, carried on the
traditions of low comedy. He was great in the invention of 'jigs.' A
notable 'jig' was that called 'Schanke's Ordinary,' in which several
performers took part. There is an odd story told by Collier of a
'Schanke, a player.' It was in the year 1642. There came galloping to
London three of the Lord General's officers with the news that there had
been a great battle in which the London Companies had been cut to
pieces, and 20,000 men had fallen on both sides. They spread their news
as they rode through the villages: they spread it abroad in the city. It
was ascertained on inquiry that there had not been any battle at all,
but that those three men--Captain Wilson, Lieutenant Whitney, and one
Schanke, a player--were simply runaways. Therefore they were all clapped
in the Gatehouse, and brought to undergo punishment according to martial
law 'for their base cowardliness.'

One remarks that the race of comic actors or low comedians never becomes
extinct. That power of always seizing on the comic side in everything,
of always being able to make an audience laugh throughout a whole piece,
is never, happily, taken away from a world which would be too sad
without it. Great poets do not occur more than once in a century: great
novelists not more than twice: but the low comedian, the comic man,
whose face, whose voice, whose carriage, are as humorous as his words,
never fails us. Tarlton is followed by Kempe, Kempe by Armin, Armin by
Schanke. So Robson follows Liston, and Toole follows Robson, with lesser
lights besides.

There are many other actors. The painstaking Collier finds out what
parts they played and where they lived. Alas! He tells us no more.
Perhaps there is no more to tell. The rank and file of the theatrical
company are never a very interesting collection. Underwood, Toovey,
Eccleston, Cowley, Cooke, Sly, Argan--they are shadows that have long
since passed out, made an exit, and so an end. They were forgotten by
the audience the day after they were dead. Why seek to revive their
memory when there is not a single solitary fact to go upon? A bone would
be something: out of the skull of Yorick we might perhaps reconstruct
his life, with all the adventures, love-making, disappointments,
distresses and triumphs.

We know the place where they all lived; the place of a continual Fair
without any booths, yet everything offered for sale: the music to cheer
your heart--you could command it had you money in purse; the wine to
raise your courage--you could call for it; the dancing to charm your
eye--any girl would dance for you if you paid her; the new play to fill
you with lofty thoughts--but you must pay for your seat; the jig to
bring you back to the level of earth--or perhaps a little lower--you
could buy it; the eyes of Dalilah at the sign of the Swan in the Hoope
were directed to your purse; the ruffians belonging to the kennels and
the bear garden; the drawers of the taverns and the sack and the
tobacco, the boats and the boatmen, were all at your service. The
players lived in this riot and racket, themselves a part: we catch
glimpses of them, we can discern them amid the crowd: sometimes one of
their women is ducked for a shrew; one of them is clapped in the Clink
Prison: some are haled before the Bishop for acting in Lent--these
unreasonable people really object to starving in Lent! And the place and
the people and their manners and customs are deplorable but delightful;
they are picturesque to the highest degree, but they are equally
reprehensible. I wish we could go back four hundred years and see and
listen for ourselves: but with all our admiration for the Elizabethan
drama, I do not think that I should like to be one of the Show Folk or
to live with them in that jovial colony on the Bankside in the days of
the Globe and the Rose, the Hope and the Swan.



CHAPTER XII

BELOW BRIDGE


'Below Bridge' covers Tooley Street and her lanes: Horselydown,
Bermondsey, Rotherhithe, Deptford, Greenwich, and Woolwich. The railway
has ruined one end of Tooley Street, which is a corruption of St.
Olave's Street. Perhaps it was ruined before the railway appeared at
all. Certainly no one would believe that this dark and narrow street was
once a place of Palaces. The Prior of Lewes had here, opposite St.
Olave's Church, his Inn or Town House: here the Abbot of St. Augustine
had his Inn: and here, we have seen, was the house of Sir John Fastolf.
Here was the Pilgrim's Way to Bermondsey Rood. Some came across the
bridge; some by boat, which was far more convenient, to Tooley Stairs;
some to Battlebridge Stairs; some to Pickle Herring Stairs. The way lay
along Tooley Street and by 'Barmsie' Lane through the fields and
gardens: a lovely rural lane. Beyond Tooley Street lies a quarter
bounded on the North by the River, and on the East by St. Saviour's
Dock: a quarter which is certainly the most industrious in the whole of
London. It is called Horselydown, the derivation of which seems obvious,
but derivations are not to be trusted, however obvious. We may take it
for granted, because we can prove the fact by looking at Roques' map of
1745, that there were meadows where horses grazed as soon as the
embankment was up, and the ground drained. There was some kind of common
here at one time: here suicides and persons deprived of Christian rites
were buried. There was also a Fair held at Horselydown. The industries
made their appearance in the eighteenth century, but they came
gradually. It is now a place of most remarkable variety as regards
occupations. All along the river and the bank of the Dock, formerly
Savoy Dock, there are wharves: inland are bonded warehouses, granaries,
leather warehouses, hide warehouses, hop warehouses, and wool
warehouses. There are tanneries, currieries, fur and skin dyeing works,
breweries, rice mills, mustard mills, pepper mills, dyeing works, dog's
food manufactories, vinegar works, bottle works, iron foundries, wooden
hoop manufactories, cooperages, roperies, smithies, biscuit
manufactories, oil and colour works, pin manufactories, varnish works,
and distilleries. All this in a district half a mile long and a quarter
of a mile broad. Between the factories and the warehouses are houses for
the workmen and the foremen. On the south side stands the Church, almost
the ugliest Church in London: next to the Church is, or was, a few years
ago, a street which has something of the look and feeling of a Close.

It is a great pity that in the whole of South London lying east of the
High Street there is not a single beautiful, or even picturesque Church.
Look at them! St. Olave's, St. John, Horselydown, St. Mary Magdalen, St.
Mary, Rotherhithe, the four oldest churches in the quarter. It cannot be
pretended that these structures inspire veneration or even respect. You
may see drawings of them in Maitland. St. Olave's was rebuilt in 1737,
St. John's, Horselydown, in 1735, St. Mary Magdalen in 1680, and St.
Mary, Rotherhithe, in 1713 on the site of the older church. In 1738 the
steeple was added. The four churches are therefore all examples of the
church architecture of nearly the same period.

[Illustration: A FETE AT HORSELYDOWN IN 1590

(_From the Painting by G. Hoffnagel, at Hatfield_)]

Of all the quarters and parts of London that of Horselydown is the least
known and the least visited, except by those whose business takes them
there every day. There is, in fact, nothing to be seen: the wharves
block out the river: the warehouses darken the streets, the places where
people live are not interesting: there is not an ancient memory or
association, or any ancient fragment of a building, to make one desire
to visit Horselydown. When we pass the Dock, we find ourselves in quite
a different quarter: the wharves are arranged along the river wall,
called the Bermondsey Wall, but behind the wharves there are fewer
factories and more people. Alas! poor people! It is a grimy place to
live in: of greenery or garden land there is none. There is not even any
access to the river except by one or two narrow stairs: the 'works' are
those whose near neighbourhood is not generally desired: places where
they make leather and curry it: or where they make glue or vinegar.
Fortunately, however, the good people of Bermondsey are spared the
handling of tallow, bones, or soap. Things might therefore have been
worse. This is the industrial centre of South London, and it occupies,
including Horselydown, St. Olave's, Bermondsey, and Rotherhithe,
something like a quarter of a million, which is a good-sized city in
itself. On the one side of St. Saviour's Dock we may step aside to look
at two streets, which fifty years ago represented the lowest kind of
vice and brutality, and the worse kind of human pigsties, Talbot Street
and London Street. The former was taken over by Dickens to adorn his
'Oliver Twist'--lugged in, for indeed it does not belong there.

The condition of the latter is figured in Wilkinson's 'London
Illustrated' in the year 1806.

The ugliness of the neighbourhood remains, but some of the dirt has been
washed away.

It seems impossible to create a quarter of workmen's cottages or
residences which shall be beautiful. First there is the slum with a row
of two- or four-roomed cottages in a narrow court: the windows are
broken: the banisters of the staircase are broken away to be burned: the
sanitary appliances are terrible: the court is a laystall. Some of these
delightful places still survive in Southwark. The next step is to build
streets for working men in places where the ground is not too valuable.
Thus the town of Bromley near Bow sprang into existence. It consists
entirely of monotonous streets with monotonous houses, all small, all
ugly, all built after the same pattern: the result being dreary and
dispiriting. Then come the model dwelling-houses: the huge barrack, of
which, Bermondsey way, there are enormous stacks, accommodating the
working classes by the hundred thousand. There is not the smallest
attempt at making these places beautiful: they are simple cubes of grey
brick with rows and lines of windows. Outside they may be models of
economy in space. Once within, they may be models of convenience; but
there is another side. The moral effect of this piling up of family on
family is reported to be injurious in ways not contemplated by the
founders: the quiet folk are terrorised by the rowdy; the children are
demoralised: there are dangers not expected, and temptations not
considered: in a word, the model lodging-houses of Southwark and
Bermondsey are not, in every respect, adapted to a model population.

It is difficult between London Bridge and Rotherhithe to get at the
river, except at two or three spots where the old stairs can be
approached by a narrow passage. There is an embankment or terrace: the
whole bank is occupied for commercial purposes: business men do not like
strangers on these wharves: and for all practical purposes the dwellers
below Bridge might just as well be a dozen miles inland. If, however,
the resident of Bermondsey can sometimes--say, on Saturday
afternoon--get down to the stairs and look out upon the river, he will
see close at hand, not only the ships and barges that lie about the
wharves, but the grand new Watergate of London, the most appropriate
entrance that could be devised to the port--the new Tower Bridge.

[Illustration: THE OLD ELEPHANT AND CASTLE, 1814]

Where Bermondsey Wall ended and Rotherhithe began the houses, until
fifty years ago, rapidly grew thinner, until Rotherhithe itself
consisted of little more than a single street, with docks, and stairs,
and taverns on the riverside, and on the other side lanes leading to
cottages and cottage gardens. The Commercial Docks were opened in 1807,
but the place still preserved something of its old character until quite
recently. It consisted of a district round which the river flowed on the
north and east. Like all the country about the Thames, it was low-lying,
and originally a marsh. Even as late as 1830 it was imperfectly drained,
and a good part of it remained still a marsh. Thus the road, now called
Southwark Park Road--why could they not leave the old name, Blue Anchor
Road?--even in 1830 wound through a marsh covered with ditches and
ponds. On the east side, near the junction of Blue Anchor Road with
Jamaica Row, there was a most remarkable collection of ponds and
islands, ending with a broad stream or ditch running into the river at
Rotherhithe stairs. Other ditches or streams lay or flowed at will over
the levels, making islands which were approached by bridges. The
character of the place was entirely that of a marsh: in fact, it was the
last part of London where there lingered still the appearance of a
marsh. The names show this. We have The Reed Bed; Providence Island; the
Seven Islands; the West Pond; the East Pond; Broom Fields; Halfpenny
Hatch, repeated more than once. The numerous Ropewalks scattered about
show that the ground was cheap, and the factories where they make glue,
soap, brimstone, turpentine, white lead, and paper are there, which
require plenty of room and few people to enjoy the smell.

[Illustration: VIEW NEAR THE STORE-HOUSE, DEPTFORD

(_From an Engraving by John Boydell, 1750_)]

Leaving Rotherhithe, we arrive at a place much more interesting, namely,
Deptford. They have done their best to spoil Deptford of late years:
they have taken away the old Trinity Almshouses: they have built new
streets: but a good deal of the old Deptford remains. I walked about it
nearly every day for three months some twelve years ago, reconstructing
the Deptford of 1750 from the Deptford of 1886. It is like
reconstructing the face in youth from a portrait in middle life. I
succeeded at last, to my own satisfaction, and, I hope, to the
satisfaction of my readers when the eighteenth-century Deptford appeared
as the background of a novel. It was not a very big place: it consisted
chiefly of an old church in the lower part of the town, and a new church
in the upper part: there were two almshouses: there was the Hall where
the Brethren of the Trinity House assembled every year before their
service at St. Nicolas and their feast at their house on Tower Hill.
The town was full of sailors and naval officers: the latter were not
remarkable for the finicking ways of the beaux their contemporaries: on
the contrary, they despised such ways--'their fashions I hate, like a
pig in a gate.' When they were young they made love all the time they
were ashore, except when they were drinking and taking tobacco at the
tavern--these occupations, truly, left the honest fellows less time for
love than might have been expected. There were officers' taverns and
seamen's taverns: rum, however, was the favourite drink at both. And,
really, it would surprise you to hear the songs they sang, and to
observe the cheerfulness with which they put up with everything:
favouritism: long and hopeless service in the lower ranks: bad food on
board: long years of foreign service: and for all the gallantry that
these brave fellows showed in service not a word of thanks: not a hint
at promotion.

The Town consisted mostly of a single street: there were shops, but poor
things: there was a market: fruit and vegetables were brought in from
the country round: within a few steps of the town one was in the
loveliest country, with the Ravensbourne flowing between meadows and
under the branches of willows and of alders.

The dockyard of Deptford was founded by Henry the Eighth, and continued
till 1869. It was at Deptford that most of the ships were built for the
Royal Navy in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries: it was here that
Drake's ship, the _Golden Hind_, in which he had made his voyage round
the world, was laid up, her cabin turned into a place of entertainment.
She remained here, an object of pilgrimage for the Londoners, for many
years. She was a good deal cut about, because everybody wanted to carry
away a piece of her. At last she was suffered to fall to pieces. One
pious archæologist got a chair made out of her timbers and presented it
to the Bodleian Library.

Pepys was often at Deptford in his capacity of Secretary of the
Admiralty. 'Up and down the yard all the morning, and seeing the seamen
exercise, which they do already very handsomely. Then to dinner....
After dinner and taking our leave of the officers of the yard, we walked
to the waterside, and on our way walked into the ropeyard, where I had a
look into the tarhouses and other places, and took great notice of all
the several works belonging to the making of a cable.'

It was at Deptford that Pepys visited Lady Sandwich, 'where I stood with
great pleasure an hour or two by her bedside, she lying prettily in
bed.' During the plague year, when he and his wife were staying at
Woolwich, he goes over to Deptford nearly every day, and was continually
feasting with his friends and always 'very merry,' though the plague was
slaying its thousands only a mile or two away.

Another visitor to Deptford who left a lasting memory was Peter the
Great, who stayed here in 1698, studying ship architecture. The people
of the town had the satisfaction of seeing the Czar of Muscovy--not
quite so great a man then as he is now--smoking a pipe of tobacco and
drinking brandy in their taverns every evening. By day they might see
him working among the dockyard men at the various parts of a ship and
its gear.

The most interesting person, however, who is connected with the annals
of Deptford is certainly John Evelyn.

Evelyn was not a great writer, nor a great scholar, nor a great
statesman: he was not great in anything that he did: yet his memory
remains, and will remain long after that of much stronger men has been
forgotten. He wrote a great deal, and since some of his writings survive
after three hundred years it is manifest that he must have written well.
He was a strong royalist who knew how to take care of his own skin. In
order to avoid being dragged into the army and fighting for the cause
which he loved, he went abroad and travelled in Europe for four years,
during which time the royal cause fell to pieces, and those who fought
for it were ruined. In 1647 he came home again; in 1649 he went back to
France, where he stayed till 1652. By this time he had made many
discoveries and observations on art and antiquities. He also married a
wife, the daughter of Charles's ambassador at Paris. Through his wife he
obtained possession of Sayes Court, Deptford, where, with a few breaks,
one of which was to allow Peter the Great to use the house, he lived
till nearly the end of his life. He was one of the founders and first
Fellows of the Royal Society: he was a member of many commissions: he
was the first Treasurer of Queen Mary's new naval hospital, and held
many other offices.

In quite a brief note Pepys sums up the character and the
accomplishments of this estimable man:

'Nov. 5, 1665. By water to Deptford, and here made a visit to Mr.
Evelyn, who among many other things showed me most excellent painting in
little: in distemper; in Indian ink; water colours; graving: and above
all, the whole secret of mezzotinto, and the manner of it, which is very
pretty, and good things done with it. He read to me very much also of
his discourse he hath been many years and now is about, about Gardening,
which will be a most noble and pleasant piece. He read me part of a play
or two of his making; very good, but not as he conceits them, I think,
to be. He showed me his "Hortus Hyemalis," leaves laid up in a book of
several plants kept dry, which preserve colour, however, and look very
finely, better than a Herball. In fine, a most excellent person he is,
and must be allowed a little for conceitedness; but he may well be so,
being a man so much above others.'

His memory survives on account of the personal character of the man
which is revealed in his works, and of the high opinion in which he was
held. 'A typical instance,' says his latest biographer ('Dict, of Nat.
Biog.'), 'of the accomplished and public-spirited country gentleman of
the Restoration, a pious and devoted member of the Church of England,
and a staunch loyalist in spite of his grave disapproval of the manners
of the court.' Above all things, it might be added, he was a gardener,
and all gardeners are amiable and all gardeners are personally popular.

[Illustration: GEORGE HOTEL, BOROUGH]

Of Greenwich Palace I have already spoken. There is little else in
Greenwich except the Palace or Hospital. The Almshouse known as Norfolk
College must not be forgotten, however. It is on the east side of the
Hospital, and stands behind a stone terrace, overlooking the river. The
College consists of a quadrangle containing a chapel and a small hall or
common room, with gardens at the back. This kind of almshouse is common,
but it is difficult to build it so that it shall not be beautiful.
Norfolk College is quite a beautiful place. Finer and larger is Morden
College, up the hill, designed for decayed merchants.

This is the end of London: a few yards beyond Norfolk College the houses
stop suddenly: on the tongue of land projecting north formed by a loop
of the river there are hardly any houses at all: the place is a dreary
flat as far as Woolwich. The London County Council limits include
Woolwich and Plumstead; but that broad area covered by continuous houses
which begins at Battersea ends at Greenwich.



CHAPTER XIII

THE LATER SANCTUARY


The Sanctuary created and crossed by the Church for the refuge of those
who had fallen into temptation became, as we know, the resort of the
rogue, the murderer, and the habitual criminal. Within the precincts of
St.-Martin's-le-Grand were carried on with impunity all the trades and
methods of producing things counterfeit. The Sanctuary of Westminster
was a scandal and a disgrace. These places had been finally abolished
after much trouble: the City officers could march their rogues to
Newgate without fear of a rescue from St. Martin's. The people of
Westminster could lie down at night without fear of housebreakers from
Sanctuary. At the same time the custom of holding and seeking sanctuary
was too deep-rooted to be quickly abolished. Perhaps there was something
comfortable in the thought that there should be a place, however small,
where the officers of the law were not admitted, and where rogues should
be unmolested. It was a loophole for repentance, perhaps: it was a gleam
of sunshine on the path of the outlaw. So the custom was continued well
into the eighteenth century. In this chapter I am going to recall the
memory of these later Sanctuaries. As may be imagined, literature says
little about them. But it says enough to show that there were places
dotted about London which served all the purposes of the old sanctuaries
without the restraints of ecclesiastical government: in fact, there was
no government, except on purely democratic principles. In these places
lived rogues and villains of all kinds: here the thief-taker came to
find his man--observe that this functionary was admitted; the
thief-taker ventured where the sheriff's officer could not. Why was
this? Because the London rogue had a sense of justice: no man could
expect to go on for ever: when a man's time was up, let him give place
to his successor. The thief-taker, therefore, was a recognised official:
it was his duty to assign to every man his proper length of rope. This
allowance expended, it was the duty of the rogue to get up when he was
called, go away quietly with the thief-taker, and get hanged in due
course. Otherwise, there would have been no living to be made by the
rogues on account of the competition of numbers. The name of Alsatia had
been long forgotten, but the asylum still remained.

In the 'Fortunes of Nigel' we are made acquainted with the Alsatia of
Fleet Street. There were other places equally secure for rogues, besides
Alsatia. Such were Whetstone Park in Lincoln's Inn Fields; Fullwood's
Rents, Holborn; Milford Lane, Strand; Montagu Close, Southwark; and
others. All these were gradually extinguished; not by any summary
procedure; not by turning out the rogues and forcing them to scatter;
not by marching off the whole population to prison; but by the slower
and more gradual process of transformation. This process began when the
parts and places around became respectable. There is something chilling
and repellent to the common rogue about the proximity of respectability:
he does not like to be in its neighbourhood: in this way these
degenerate and unlawful sanctuaries gradually fell into decay. One alone
remained, when all the others had disappeared. It was in that part of
Southwark--that part which is still a slum--called Mint Street, nearly
opposite St. George's Church in the High Street. This street, with its
alleys and courts, was inhabited by as villainous a collection as even
the eighteenth century, which in point of villains was rich beyond its
predecessors, could not equal. They had retreated here from their
former haunt in Montagu Close, as to a last fortress, which was not yet
besieged. They lived in perfect safety here: no writ could be served on
them: no arrest could be made: the only person they had to fear was, as
said above, the thief-taker.

The annals of this Sanctuary were never, unfortunately, kept; it is
impossible to ascertain what illustrious criminals were here housed and
for how long. There are, however, one or two little histories of the
Mint which will serve to show us at once the public spirit, the courage,
and the immunity with which the people of the later Sanctuary lived and
acted.

The first story belongs to the year 1715. The case of Dormer _v._ Dormer
and Jones came on for hearing at Westminster Hall. It was a divorce
case, in which the co-respondent had been a footman in the plaintiff's
house. There seems to have been no defence, practically. The verdict of
the Jury was for the plaintiff, with 5,000_l._ damages. Now, consider
for a moment what that verdict meant. In these days, when a defendant
without any private means at all is mulcted in damages and costs,
whether of 5,000_l._ or of 100_l._, he simply smiles. He is not in the
least degree affected. Nothing worse than bankruptcy can happen to him,
and when a man has nothing bankruptcy presents few terrors. In Portugal
Street _subridet vacuus viator_--the insolvent pilgrim smiles
cheerfully. But in those days it was very different. To inflict damages
of 5,000_l._ meant simply that the Jury considered the case one in which
the defendant, who could not be tried in the criminal courts, could only
be adequately punished by being locked up for the whole of his remaining
days in a debtor's prison, where, since he was only a footman whose
relations were probably unable to assist him and certainly unable to
maintain him, he would speedily take his place on the common side, and
there he would be slowly done to death by insufficient food and
insufficient clothing, by privation, cold, fever and misery.

The Jury therefore gave this verdict with deliberate intention. It meant
prison and slow starvation and insufficient warmth, and so everybody
instantly understood, including Mr. Jones himself. In a moment the
officers would have laid hands upon the unhappy but undeserving footman.
But he was too quick for them: he turned: he fled: he hurled himself
down Westminster Hall through the crowd of lawyers, witnesses,
booksellers, glovesellers, and visitors: he tore across New Palace Yard,
now pursued by the officers: he made for the 'Bridge,' that is, the pier
so called, for as yet there was no Bridge: he jumped into the first boat
and shoved off. When the bailiffs arrived breathless at the Stairs, they
saw their prisoner already half way across the river. They too jumped
into a boat: for some reason or other--one knows not why--it was most
unlucky--their boat took a long time to get off: something was wrong
with the painter: the ropes were knotted: the stretchers wanted to be
set right: the oars were on the wrong sides: the men were slow in
getting off their coats: finally, when she was cast loose the boat
proved to be another Noah's Ark for creeping slowly over the face of the
waters. Jones therefore got safely ashore on the other side, and the
bailiffs turned back with a good deal of cursing. Once ashore, the
fugitive made straight to Mint Street, as to a Levitical City which was
also a City of Refuge. I know not what became of him afterwards. It was
a hive where all the bees were busy. Jones could not eat the bread of
idleness: he therefore, one may certainly conclude, became a rogue by
profession and in due course met his fate bravely with white ribbons
round his cap, an orange in one hand, a Prayer-book in the other, and a
large nosegay in his shirt front.

Here is another story of the same Eighteenth Century Sanctuary. It will
seem incredible that the Executive should have been so incapable, but
the story is literally true.

[Illustration: MINT STREET, BOROUGH]

Things being in so satisfactory and settled a condition, the Law being
so triumphantly defied, at the Mint in Southwark, some of the residents
or collegians naturally desired to go farther afield, and to establish
more Sanctuaries or Law-defying colonies on the other side of the
river, which was reported to be ripe for these settlements. No reports
of Meetings, Proceedings, and Resolutions held and passed on the subject
have come down to us. However, that matters very little. Every great
movement, we know, is the work of one man. Therefore there arose a
Prophet--the Prophet as Rogue. He perceived, understood, and presently
began to preach that a 'long felt want'--call it rather a
'need'--existed, which it was his duty to supply. The old Sanctuaries of
North London, he pointed out, had fallen into decay. Alsatia was
deplorably respectable: bailiffs had been seen in Milford Lane: the
trade of counterfeit rings was no longer carried on in St. Martin's.
And, though there were certainly taverns in Clerkenwell which bailiffs
regarded with a useful respect, it could not be denied that London
needed a new Sanctuary. This need he called upon his friends and
fellow-residents in the Mint to supply. He set before his hearers with
burning eloquence--I am sure it was burning--a Vision of a New London,
Purged; Purified; without honesty; without morals; without law; with
neither gallows, pillory, whipping post, or stocks: a City entirely in
the hands of Rogues who would compel all the conquered City to work for
them: would seize on all property and would live triumphantly happy with
complete control over all the Prisons. To make a beginning of this
Millennium, he proposed, by means of colonies from the Mint, to plant
all London with Sanctuaries until, in fulness of time, the City should
become one huge Sanctuary, where debts would never be collected, and
robbery and murder would never be punished.

They chose for their new settlement a piece of ground on the east of
Tower Hill, where Cable Street is now. They laid down their boundaries:
they called the place the New Mint: they said, 'Within these limits
there shall be no arrest.' This new law they communicated fairly and
plainly, because everything was above board, to all the catchpoles. They
then sat down as in an impregnable fortress. Remember, that if there
were no police, such as we now understand by the word, they were close
to the soldiers of the Tower, who might have been called in to disperse
this lawless establishment. However, nothing at all was done. They sat
down triumphant. Presently--I know not how long afterwards--a bailiff
was actually found to disregard the warning. You will hardly believe
that this rash and audacious person ventured to arrest a New Minter
within the Precincts!

Then the colonists arose and formed into column: they called for music:
preceded by a band of what used to be called the Whifflers, they marched
in a procession, four abreast, quietly, calmly, but with settled purpose
in their gallant and resolute faces: they carried a banner, yea, the
Flag of Unrighteousness: they marched straight to the house of the
offender, who, for his part, was so foolish as not to run away. It is,
however, a weakness common to Catchpoles that they always put their
trust in the Law. They arrested that Catchpole: they led him to the
place where he had offended: and there they made an example of him. They
tore away every shred of clothing from him: they flogged him all over
with brooms and thorny brambles: they gave him a thousand lashes, so
that there was not a whole inch of skin left upon him: they dragged him
through filthy ponds and laystalls: they took him out and flogged him
again: they tried to flog the life out of the poor wretch but failed,
for he survived: then they dragged him again through the filth: at last
they suffered him, bleeding and naked, to crawl home as best he might. I
am sorry to say that I have no information as to the end of the New Mint
adventure; but it certainly appears that no one was punished for this
outrage, and that no attempt even was made to punish anyone. Perhaps the
memory of that gallant deed still lingers in Cable Lane: but I have not
ventured to inquire of the still rude and independent freemen, its
present residents.



CHAPTER XIV

IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY


If we look at a map of South London compiled at any time during the
eighteenth century it is surprising to observe how little the place had
grown since the fifteenth. There runs, as of old, the Causeway at right
angles to the Embankment. On either side of the Causeway or High Street
or St. Margaret's Hill, run off right and left a few narrow streets: the
continuity of houses is broken by St. George's Church, south of which,
although there are, here and there, detached houses and even rows of
houses or terraces, there are open fields, streams, ponds and gardens.
St. George's Fields, crossed by paths, are broad and open fields
stretching out westward till they join Lambeth Marsh. St. Margaret's
Church has long since vanished: he who knows the old maps can still put
his finger on the site, but its burial ground has wholly disappeared.
There are four old churches in Southwark proper: St. George's, St.
Saviour's, St. Thomas's, and St. Olave's. On the east are the churches
of Bermondsey and Rotherhithe, not to speak of Deptford: on the west is
Lambeth Church: on the south are the churches of Newington and
Kennington. As for other institutions, there are the two great hospitals
St. Thomas's and Guy's almost side by side: and there are the prisons,
that of the King's Bench, the Marshalsea and the White Lyon. They were
all on the east side of the street until 1756, when the King's Bench
Prison was removed across the road nearly opposite to St. George's. Some
time after the Marshalsea was moved further south on the site of the old
White Lyon and including that ancient Clink. The old Clink on Bankside
had vanished. But the Borough Compter was still flourishing--a grimy,
filthy, fever-stricken place.

[Illustration: OLD HOUSE, STONEY STREET, SOUTHWARK]

At the back of the houses and narrow streets to east and west, the
fields began with open ditches or sewers and sluggish streams. 'Snow's'
Fields on the east were as well known as St. George's in the West. 'Long
Lane' ran from St. George's to Bermondsey Church: it contained a few
houses: Bermondsey Lane, commonly called Barmsie, ran from the old cross
to the same church: it was already a street of houses. The most crowded
part of Southwark proper was the street called Tooley or St. Olave's,
the most ancient street in the Borough, originally built upon the
Embankment, the Thames Street of South London. Here, in the eighteenth
century, there were no vestiges left of the former palaces: everything
had gone except a crypt or a vault: at every step one came upon the
entrance to a court, narrow, mean and squalid: these courts remain, also
narrow, mean and squalid, to the present day. There were no places in
London, unless in the neighbourhood of Hermitage Street, Wapping, where
human creatures had to pig together in such horrible conditions. There
was no water supply to these courts: there was no lighting: there was no
paving, not even with the round cobbles which they still called paving.

[Illustration: ST. THOMAS'S HOSPITAL

(_From an old Print_)]

[Illustration: Some Ancient Houses in the Long Walk, Bermondsey]

[Illustration: Jamaica House, Bermondsey]

On the west side of the High Street, of which a map is given on p. 85
of this volume, beyond St. Saviour's, the nave of which was fast falling
into ruins, came Bankside. Alas! It was deserted: not a single theatre
was left: not a baiting Place: not a Bear to bait: there was no longer a
poet or an actor or a musician on Bankside: there were no more evenings
at the Falcon: there was no longer heard the tinkling of the guitar, and
the scraping of the violin. South of Bankside lay two broad gardens,
side by side: one called Pye Garden; and the other, west of Winchester
House, was called Winchester Park. Paris Gardens were no more.
Blackfriars Bridge Road, in which there were as yet but few houses, had
been cut ruthlessly right through the middle of the old Gardens; the
trees, once so thick and close, had been laid low, but there were still
kitchen gardens. South of the Gardens, with an interval of a few side
streets, we come upon St. George's Fields, and on the west of these
fields upon Lambeth Marsh, which was cut up into ropewalks, tenter
grounds, nurseries, and kitchen gardens. Where Waterloo Station now
stands were Cuper's Gardens: there were half a dozen Pleasure Gardens,
of which more anon: there were turnpikes wherever two roads met. But
perhaps the most remarkable feature of this quarter in the last century
was the immense number of streams and ditches and ponds: most of these
were little better than open sewers: complaints were common of the
pollution of these streams--but it was in vain: people will always throw
everything that has to be ejected into the nearest running water if they
can. One wants the map in order to understand how numerous were these
streams. There was one murky brook which ran along the backs of all the
houses on the east side of High Street--the prisoners of the Marshalsea
and the King's Bench grumbled about it continually: another
corresponding stream ran behind the west side of High Street. Maiden
Lane, now called Park Lane, rejoiced in one: Gravel Lane, more blessed
still, was happy with a ditch or stream on each side: Dirty Lane had
one: another ran along Bandy Leg Walk: other streams flowed, or crept,
or crawled, across Lambeth Marsh and St. George's Fields. Where there
were no houses, and therefore no pollutions, the streams of this broad
marsh, lying beneath and between the orchards, fringing the gardens, and
crossing the open fields, were a pleasant feature, though they had no
stones to prattle over, but only the dark peaty _humus_ of the marsh:
and the water channels necessitated frequent little rustic bridges which
were sometimes picturesque. Some of the streams again were of
considerable size, especially that called 'The Shore' by Roques. It was
also called the Effra. Along the banks of this stream stood here and
there cottages, having little gardens in front and rustic bridges across
the stream. But whether these streams ran or whether they crawled,
behind or beside the crowded houses they were foul and fetid and
charged with all the things which should be buried away or burned way:
they were laden with fevers and malaria and 'putrid' sore throat.

[Illustration: QUEEN ELIZABETH'S FREE GRAMMAR SCHOOL]

[Illustration: ANCIENT BUILDINGS, HIGH STREET, BOROUGH

(_From a Drawing by T. Higham, 1820_)]

[Illustration: THE FALCON TAVERN, BANKSIDE]

The High Street of Southwark is now a crowded thoroughfare, because it
is the main artery of a town containing a population of many hundreds
of thousands. In the last century it was quite as animated because it
was one of the main arteries by which London was in communication with
the country. An immense number of coaches, carts, waggons, and
'caravans' passed every day up and down the High Street, some stopping
or starting in Southwark itself; some going over London Bridge to their
destination in the City. The coach of the first half of the century can
be restored from Hogarth. That of the latter half of the century was in
all respects like the revived coaches of the present day, adapted for
rapid travelling along a smooth road. The carts were carriers' carts on
two wheels with a tilt or cover; they carried parcels and small
packages, and on occasions, but not always, one or two passengers. The
waggons, which carried heavy goods and passengers not in a hurry, were
also covered with a tilt; their broad wheels and capacious interior can
be restored, as well as the coach, from that most trustworthy painter of
his own time. As for the caravans, I am in some doubt. I suppose,
however, that a caravan was then what it is now, in which case it was
an elementary Pullman's car, in which people and their effects were
drawn slowly along the road, in a four-wheeled covered cart. Perhaps the
passengers slept in the car at night, drawn up by the roadside, like the
gipsies. But of this theory I have no kind of proof.

[Illustration: AN OLD MILL, BANKSIDE]

[Illustration: JOHN BUNYAN'S MEETING HOUSE, BANKSIDE]

From the Borough alone, without counting the vehicles which passed
through to or from the City, there were sent out, every week, one
hundred and forty-three stage coaches: one hundred and twenty-one
waggons: and one hundred and ninety-six carts and caravans. And, of
course, the same number came back every week. There was a continual
succession of departures and arrivals; all day long, one after the
other, the stage coaches came galloping up each to its own inn; while
they were still far away the people of the inn knew when their own coach
was coming by the tune played on the guard's bugle: the High Street, in
fact, was like a railway terminus, where trains are arriving and leaving
all day long.

[Illustration: The Old Town Hall, Southwark]

I am quite sure that we have no idea at all of the life and animation at
a London inn when the stages were started and when they arrived. With as
much method, and as quickly as the railway porters clear out the luggage
and get rid of the train, the horses were taken out: the passengers got
down: the coachman looked inside for his perquisites in the shape of
anything forgotten and left behind: the luggage was laid out: the
porters seized it and carried it off to the hackney coach outside: the
passengers followed their luggage: and the courtyard was ready for the
next coach. Outside the courtyard there hung about, all day long, whole
companies of thieves waiting for the chance of carrying off something
unconsidered or forgotten. Generally, they stood in with the stable boys
and the porters, who, for a trifle, were good enough to shut their eyes.
If a trunk was seen to lie unclaimed, one of them came bustling in.
'Give us a hand, Jack,' he cried to one of the porters, as if he had
been ordered to call for and bring away that trunk. A confederate or two
stood at the door to trip up a pursuer or a proprietor, if there was
one, and in a moment man and box would be lost to sight in a
neighbouring court. Pickpockets as well abounded about the courtyards:
outside were houses filled with disorderly folk of all kinds waiting to
entrap and to tempt and to rob the country bumpkin. There was the couple
ready with the confidence trick: the generous and hospitable gentleman
to welcome the country lad: there was the lady of the ready smile: and
the taverns with the doors open to all. The numbers of coaches and
waggons I have given refer to Southwark alone, and to the conveyances
which belonged to the inns up and down in the High Street. But a great
many more came across the bridge from the City daily. Now, if we are
considering the traffic and animation of the roads leading to the City,
remember that the High Street, Borough, was only one of many main lines
of traffic. There were, besides, the roads to the North: to the Eastern
counties: to the Midlands: to the West: and to the Northwest. Day and
night the roads all round London were thronged with these coaches,
carts, caravans, and waggons: but these vehicles were for ordinary folk
only: for tradesmen, attorneys, clergymen, farmers, riders (that is,
commercial travellers) and servants: a nobleman or a country gentleman
scorned to travel in a public conveyance: he came up to London, if not
in his own coach, then in a post-chaise, of which there were thousands
on the road. Add to these the horsemen, of whom there were an immense
number riding from place to place: add, further, the long droves of
cattle, sheep and pigs: the cattle, however, to save their feet and to
keep them in condition, were mostly taken along 'drives' by the
roadside, where the ground was soft. One of these can still be seen on
the other side of Hampstead. Pedestrians there were also by thousands:
soldiers: sailors: gipsies: strolling actors: tinkers and tramps--the
land was full of tramps: in a word the roads near London were crowded
and animated and full of adventure, character, incident, and
picturesqueness: indeed, the dismal and deserted condition of the modern
road makes it difficult for us to realise the crowds and the life of the
road in the eighteenth century.

[Illustration: Old Houses in Ewer Street]

Of society in the Borough there is little information to be procured.
The place had, however, its better class. One infers so much from the
fact that there were Assembly Rooms in the High Street, and that a
Borough Assembly was held during the winter on stated days, at which the
fashion and aristocracy of the place were gathered together. I have
gathered one anecdote alone concerning this Assembly. It is of an
accident.

[Illustration: Courtyard of the Dog & Bear Inn]

The company were assembled: the Minuets had begun: the orchestra was in
full play: the ladies were dressed in their finest: hoops were swinging:
towering heads were nodding: the gentlemen were splendid in pale blue
satin and in pink, when suddenly the doors, which stood on the level of
the street, were pushed open, and a dozen oxen came running in one after
the other. The company parted right and left, falling over benches and
each other: the creatures, terrified by the light and the shrieks of the
ladies, began to point threatening horns: nobody dared to drive them out
till the 'well-known'--the phrase is pathetic, because fame is so
short-lived--the 'well-known' Mrs. A. advanced, and with a brandishing
of her apron and the magic of a 'Shoo! Shoo!' persuaded the animals to
leave the place. Then who shall tell of the raising of fallen and
fainting damsels? Who shall speak of the rending of skirts and
embroidered petticoats? Who can describe the deplorable damage to the
heads? And who can adequately celebrate the gallantry of the men when
there was no more danger? Bowls of punch, I am pleased to record, were
quickly administered as a restorative: and after certain necessary
repairs to the heads and the sewing up of torn skirts, the wounded
spirits of the company revived, and the ball proceeded.

Another indication of society in Southwark is the fact that on one
occasion--perhaps on more than one occasion--when the black footmen of
London resolved on holding an Assembly of their own, it was in the
Borough that they held it. And a very interesting evening it must have
proved, had we any record of the proceedings. Perhaps black cooks were
found to dance with black footmen.

[Illustration: THE WHITE BEAR TAVERN, SOUTHWARK]

Since it contained the headquarters of so many stage coaches, carts and
waggons, the High Street was bound to contain, as well, many houses of
entertainment, if only as stables for the horses and accommodation for
the drivers and grooms. The inns of Southwark, however, were far more
ancient than the stage coaches. We have seen already that from the
earliest times of trade the southern suburb was the place where
merchants and those who brought produce of all kinds to London out of
the south country put up their teams of pack-horses and their goods, and
found bed and board and company for themselves. We have also seen how
the inns of Southwark were used as gathering places and starting places
for the Pilgrims bound for St. Thomas's Shrine, Canterbury. The mediæval
inn was not much like that of later times. It contained a common hall
and a common dormitory, with another for women. There was also a covered
place for goods, and stables for horses. A small specimen of a
fifteenth-century inn survives at Aylesbury: the hall, quite a small
room, is very well preserved. That of the Tabard must have been much
larger, in order to accommodate so large a company. The quaint old inns,
so long the delight of the artist, now nearly all gone, were not
earlier than the sixteenth or seventeenth century. They consisted of a
large open courtyard filled with waggons and vehicles of all kinds,
surrounded by galleries, at the back of which were bedrooms, and other
chambers opening from the gallery. On the ground floor were the
kitchens, dining-rooms, and private sitting-rooms. There was generally a
large room for public dinners and other occasions. The inns of Southwark
formed, so long as they stood, the most picturesque part of modern
Southwark. Scarcely anything now remains of them, the George alone
preserving anything of its ancient picturesqueness. The reader who
desires a closer acquaintance with these inns is referred to Mr. Philip
Norman's exquisitely illustrated book, which presents in a lasting form
the vanished glories of the High Street.

To speak of these inns is like entering upon a historical catalogue.
There are so many of them, and the associations connected with them
carry one away into so many directions and land him into many strange
corners of history.

At the south end of London Bridge, and on the west side of it, stood a
tavern called the 'Bear at the Bridge Foot.' It was built in the year
1319 by one Thomas Drinkwater, taverner of London. In Riley's
'Memorials' may be found a lease of this house by the proprietor to one
James Beauflur. The lease is for six years. James Beauflur is to pay no
rent, because he has advanced money to Thomas Drinkwater to help in the
building. James is, in fact, to act as manager of a 'tied' house. Thomas
Drinkwater will furnish all the wine, and will keep an exact account of
the same and will have a settlement twice a year. Thomas will also
complete the furniture of the house with 'hanaps,' that is, handled mugs
of silver and of wood, with curtains, clothes, and everything else
necessary for the proper conduct of a tavern.

[Illustration: ALLEN ROPEWALK, SOUTHWARK]

One hopes that James Beauflur made the tavern pay. This was the
commencement of a long and singularly prosperous inn. It became one of
the most famous inns of London, and one of the most popular for
dinners. Hither came the Churchwardens and vestry of St. Olave's to
feast at the expense of the parish as long as feasts were allowed. Some
of the bills of these dinners have been preserved among the papers of
St. Saviour's. Rendle the antiquary and historian of Southwark gives
one:

P^d for 3 Geese, 3 Capons and one Rabbit      00  14  08
        3 Tarts                               00  12  00
        a Giblett pie makyng                  00  02  08
        Beefe                                 01  02  06
        3 leggs of mutton                     00   8  00
        wine and dresing the meat and naperie,
          fire, bread and beere               02  11  00
        18 oz Tobacco and 12 pipes            00  01  02
        12 Lemmonds and 18 Oranges            00  03  00
                                             -----------
                                              05  15  00
                                             -----------

Among the names of persons connected with the tavern must be noticed
that of the Duke of Norfolk--'Jockey of Norfolk'--in 1463. Two hundred
years later, one Cornelius Cooke, late a Colonel in Cromwell's army and
a commissioner for the sale of the King's lands, enters upon a new
sphere of usefulness by turning landlord of the Bear at the Bridge Foot.
Samuel Pepys records several visits paid to the tavern. From this house
the Duke of Richmond carried off Miss Stewart. It was pulled down in
1761, when the end of the bridge was widened. I need not catalogue the
whole long list of the Southwark inns: you may find them all enumerated
in Rendle's book, but mention may be made of the more important. Some of
them, it will be seen, had been in more ancient times the town houses of
great people--Bishops, Abbots and nobles. Other town houses, those off
the highway of trade, having been deserted by their former occupants,
fell upon evil times, went down in the world, even became mere
tenements. This happened to Sir John Fastolf's house, and to the house
of the Prior of Lewes, and to many others. Those standing in the
highway, whither came all the merchants; whither came all the waggons;
became transformed, and proved more valuable property as inns than as
residences.

[Illustration: A SOUTH LONDON SLUM]

Thus, in Foul Lane, now just south of St. Mary Overies, was the entrance
to the Green Dragon Inn. This inn was anciently the town house of the
Cobhams. This family left Southwark, and the house, with some
alterations, became an Inn. When carriers began to ply between London
and the country towns, Tunbridge was connected by a carrier's cart with
the Green Dragon. Early in the eighteenth century it became the
Southwark post-office. Another and a much more important inn for
carriers and waggons was the King's Head. Taylor, the Water Poet, says
that 'carriers come into the Borough of Southwark out of the counties of
Kent, Sussex, and Surrey: from Reigate to the Falcon: from Tunbridge,
Seavenoks, and Staplehurst to the Katherine Wheel, and others from
Sussex thither; Dorking and Ledderhead to the Greyhound: some to the
Spurre, the George, the King's Head: some lodge at the Tabbard or
Talbot: many, far and wide, are to be had almost daily at the White
Hart.'

The White Hart is, if possible, a more historical inn than Chaucer's
Tabard itself. It was the headquarters of Jack Cade, as has already been
related in chapter vi. In front of this inn one Hawarden was beheaded:
and also in front of this inn the headless body of Lord Say, after being
dragged at the horsetail from the Standard at Chepe, was cut up in
quarters, which were displayed in various places in order to strike
terror into the minds of the people.

[Illustration: THE OLD TABARD INN, SOUTHWARK]

I have spoken sufficiently of Chaucer already. The Tabard Inn, from
which the famous Company set out, was named after the ornamented coat or
jacket worn by Kings at Coronations, and by heralds, or even by ordinary
persons. In the fourteenth century it was the town house of the Abbot
of Hyde, Winchester. Does this mean that the Abbot allowed the place to
be used as an ordinary inn? It is clear that Chaucer speaks of it as an
ordinary inn. Yet in 1307 the Bishop of Winchester licenses a chapel at
the Abbot's Hospitium in the Parish of St. Margaret, Southwark. At the
Dissolution it is surrendered as 'a hostelry called the Taberd, the
Abbot's place, the Abbot's stable, the garden belonging, a dung place
leading to the ditch going to the Thames.' It is explained in Spight's
'Chaucer,' 1598, that the old Tabard had much decayed, but that it had
been repaired 'with the Abbot's house adjoining.' Until the inn was
finally pulled down, a room used to be shown as that in which Chaucer's
Company assembled. This, however, was not the room, though it may have
been rebuilt on the site of the old room. For on Friday, May 26, 1676, a
destructive fire broke out, which raged over a large part of the Borough
and destroyed the Queen's Head, the Talbot, the George, the White Hart,
the King's Head, the Green Dragon, the Borough Compter, the Meat Market,
and about 500 houses. St. Thomas's Hospital was saved by a change of
wind, which also seems to have saved St. Mary Overies.

[Illustration: ST. GEORGE, SOUTHWARK: NORTH-WEST VIEW

(_From an Engraving by B. Cole_)]

Walk with me from the Bridge head southwards, noting the Inns first on
the right or the west, and then on the left or east.

We have, first, the Bear on Bridge Head: then, before getting to Ford
Lane, the Bull's Head: opposite the market place, the Goat: next the
Clement. Opposite St. George's Church we cross over, and are on the east
side, going north again: here we have a succession of Inns: the Half
Moon: the Blue Maid and the Mermaid: the Nag's Head: the Spur: the
Christopher: the Cross Keys: the Tabard: the George: the White Hart: the
King's Head: the Black Swan: the Boar's Head. There is a pleasing
atmosphere of business mixed with festivity about this street of inns
and courtyards: of stables and grooms: of drivers and guards: of coaches
and waggons: of merchants and middlemen: of country squires come up on
business, with the hope of combining a little pleasure amongst the
excitements of the town with a profitable deal or two. There is the
smell of roast meats hanging about the courtyards of the inns. There is
a continual calling for the drawers, there is a clinking of hanaps and a
murmur of voices.

The _strepitus_, however, of the High Street is not like that of
Bankside. There is no tinkling of guitars: no singing before noon or
after noon: no laughing: the country folk do not laugh: they do not
understand the wit of the poets and the players. High Street has nothing
to do with Bankside: the merchants and the squires know nothing about
the Show Folk.

There was one exception. Among the Show Folk was a certain Edward
Alleyn, who was a man of business as well as a conductor of
entertainments. He was on the vestry of St. Saviour's: he was also
churchwarden, his name appears in the parish accounts of the period. He
was a popular churchwarden: probably he had about him so much of the
showman that he was genial, and mannerly, and courteous--these are the
elementary virtues of the profession. For we find that when he proposes
to retire his fellow members of the vestry refuse to let him go.

It is melancholy to walk down the High Street and to reflect that all
these inns, most of them so picturesque, were standing thirty or forty
years ago, and that some of them were standing ten years ago. One of
them is figured in the 'Pickwick Papers.' The courtyard is too vast: the
figures are too small: the galleries are too large: but the effect
produced is admirable. Now not only are the old Inns gone, but there is
nothing to take their place: a modern public-house is not an Inn. The
need of an Inn at Southwark is gone: there are no more caravans of
produce brought up to the Borough: the High Street has become the shop
and the provider of everything for the populations of the parishes of
St. Saviour, St. Olave, St. Thomas, and St. George.



CHAPTER XV

THE DEBTORS' PRISON


There was another kind of Sanctuary in Southwark, a place of Refuge not
invited, and of security against one's will--The Debtors' Prison. In
fact, there were three Debtors' Prisons--the King's Bench, the
Marshalsea, and the Borough Compter. The consideration of these
melancholy places--all the more melancholy because they were full of
noisy revelry--fills one with amazement to think that a system so
ridiculous should be continued so long, and should be abandoned with so
much regret, reluctance, and with forebodings so gloomy. There would be
no more credit, no more confidence, if the debtor could not be
imprisoned. Trade would be destroyed. The Debtors' Prison was a part of
trade. It is fifty years and more since the power of imprisoning a
debtor for life was taken from the creditor: yet there is as much credit
as ever, and as much confidence. To a trading community such as ours it
seems, naturally, that the injury inflicted upon a merchant by failing
to pay his just claims is so great that imprisonment ought to be awarded
to such an offender. The Law gave the creditor the power of revenge full
and terrible and lifelong. The Law said to the debtor: 'Whether you are
to blame or not, you owe money which you cannot pay: you shall be locked
up in a crowded prison: you shall be deprived of your means of getting a
livelihood: you shall have no allowance of food: you shall have no fire:
you shall have no bed: you shall be forced to herd with a noisome
unwashed crowd of wretches: and whereas a criminal may get off with a
year or two, you shall be sentenced to life-long imprisonment.'

[Illustration: REMAINS OF THE MARSHALSEA: N.E. VIEW. A, CHAPEL; B,
PALACE COURT

(_From 'The Gentleman's Magazine,' September 1803_)]

The barbarity of the system, its futility, because the debtor was
deprived of the means of making money to pay his debts, withal, were
exposed over and over again: prisoners wrote accounts of their prisons:
commissions held inquiry into the management of the prisons: regulations
were laid down: Acts were passed to release debtors by hundreds at one
time: the system of allowing prisoners to live in 'Rules' was tolerated:
but the real evil remained untouched so long as a creditor had the power
of imprisoning a debtor. The power was abused in the most monstrous
manner: a man owed a few shillings: he could not pay: he was put into
prison: the next day he discovered that he was in debt to an attorney
for as many pounds. If he owed as much as 10_l._, the bill against him
for his arrest amounted to 11_l._ 15_s._ 8_d._ of what we should now
call 'taxed costs.' In the year 1759 there were 20,000 prisoners for
debt in Great Britain and Ireland. Think what that means: all those were
in enforced idleness. Why, their work at 2_s._ a day means 600,000_l._ a
year: all that wealth lost to the State: nay more, because they were
mostly married men with families: their families had to be maintained,
so that not only did the country lose 600,000_l._ a year by the idleness
of the debtors, it also lost that much again for the maintenance of
their families. Put it in another way. A poor man knowing one trade
which one cannot practise in a prison owed, say, 15_s._ He was arrested
and put into prison. He lived there for thirty years. He lived on doles
and the proceeds of the begging box, and what his friends could give
him: he lived, say, on five shillings a week. He cost some one
therefore; the charitable people who dropped money into the box; the
community; for his maintenance in the prison, and for thirty years of
it, the sum total of 400_l._ This is rather an expensive tax on the
State: but the tradesman to whom he owed the money considered no more
than his own 15_s._ In addition there were his wife and children to keep
until the latter were self-supporting. This charge represented perhaps
another 400_l._ But there were 20,000 debtors in prison. If they were
all in like evil case, the State was taxed on their behalf in the sum of
sixteen millions spread over thirty years, or half a million a year,
because these luckless creatures could not pay an insignificant debt of
a few shillings or a few pounds.

The King's Bench was the largest of all the Debtors' Prisons. It
formerly stood on the east side of the High Street, on the site of what
is now the second street north of St. George's Church. This prison was
taken down in 1758, and the Debtors were removed to a larger and much
more commodious place on the other side of the street south of Lant
Street--the site is now marked by a number of new and very ugly houses
and mean streets. When it was built it looked out at the back of St.
George's Fields and across Lambeth Marsh, then an open space, and by
this time drained. But the good air without was fully balanced by the
bad air within.

The place was surrounded by a very high wall, the area covered was
extensive, and the buildings were more commodious than had ever before
been attempted in a prison. But they were not large enough. In the year
1776 the prisoners had to lie two in a bed, and even for those who could
pay there were not beds enough, and many slept on the floor of the
chapel. There were 395 prisoners: in addition to the prisoners many of
them had wives and children with them. There were 279 wives and 725
children: a total of 1,399 sleeping every night in the prison. There was
a good water supply, but there was no infirmary, no resident surgeon,
and no bath. Imagine a place containing 1,399 persons, and no bath and
no infirmary!

[Illustration: KING'S BENCH PRISON]

Among these prisoners, about a hundred years ago, was a certain Colonel
Hanger, who has left his memoirs behind him for the edification of
posterity. According to him, the prison 'rivalled the purlieus of
Wapping, St. Giles, and St. James's in vice, debauchery, and
drunkenness.' The general immorality was so great that it was only
possible, he says, to escape contagion by living separate or by
consorting only with the few gentlemen of honour who might be found
there: 'otherwise a man will quickly sink into dissipation: he will lose
every sense of honour and dignity: every moral principle and virtuous
disposition.' Among the prisoners in Hanger's time, there were seldom
fifty who had any regular means of sustenance. They were always
underfed. At that time a detaining creditor had to find sixpence a day
for the prisoner's support. But in 1798 a pound of bread cost 4½_d._, a
pint of porter 2_d._: therefore a man who had to live on 6_d._ a day
could not get more than a pound of bread and a half pint of porter. And
then the 6_d._ a day was constantly withheld on some pretence or
another, and the poor prisoner had not the wherewithal to engage an
attorney to secure his rights. And as for attorneys their name stank in
the prison: more than half of the prisoners, Hanger avers, were kept
there solely because they could not pay the attorneys' costs.

Those prisoners who knew any trade which could be carried on in the
King's Bench were fortunate. The cobbler, the tailor, the barber, the
fiddler, the carpenter, could get employment and were able to maintain
themselves: some of them kept shops, and the principal building in the
place, about 360 feet long, had its ground floor, looking out upon an
open court, occupied by shops where everything could be bought except
spirits, which were forbidden. They were brought in, however, secretly
by the visitors. The open court was the common Recreation Ground: there
was the Parade, a Walk along the front of the building: three pumps
where were benches: these were three separate centres of conversation:
there were racket and fives courts: a ground for the play called 'bumble
puppy.' And in fine weather there were tables set out here and there,
with chairs and benches, where the collegians drank beer and smoked
tobacco.

[Illustration: The King's Bench Prison]

Anybody might enter the Prison to visit an inmate or to look round:
every day the place was thronged with visitors, chiefly to see the new
comers: the time came when the newcomer was an old resident, who had
worn out the kindness of his friends or had outlived them, and now
lingered on, poor and friendless, in this living grave. All day long the
children played in the court, shouting and running: they saw things that
they ought not to have seen: they heard things which they ought not to
have heard: they learned habits which they ought not to have learned.
Can one conceive a worse school for a boy than the King's Bench Prison?
Look at the Court on a fine and sunny afternoon. The whole College is
out and in the open: some stroll up and down: in the Prison nobody ever
walks: they all stroll: even, it may be said without unkindness, they
slouch. The men wear coats which are mostly in holes at the elbows, with
other garments that equally show signs of decay: they wear slippers
because it is absurd to wear boots in a prison: the slippers are down at
heel--never mind: no one cares here whether one is shabby or not: it is
better to go ragged than to go hungry. If the men are ragged the women
are slatternly: they have lost even the feminine desire to please: they
please nobody, and certainly not their husbands: they are shrewish as to
tongue and vicious as to temper. Look at their faces: there is this face
and that face, but there is not a single happy face among them all. The
average face is resentful, painted with strong drink, stamped with the
seal of vice and self-indulgence. A vile place, which has imprinted its
own vileness on the face of everyone who lives within its walls.

A worse place than the King's Bench was a wretched little Prison called
the Borough Compter. It was used both for debtors and for criminals. Now
you shall hear what marvellous thing in the way of cruelty can be
brought about when the execution of the law is entrusted to such men as
prison warders and turnkeys.

The place consisted of a women's ward, a debtors' ward, a felons' ward,
and a yard for exercise. The yard was nineteen feet square: this was the
only exercising ground for all the prisoners. When Buxton visited the
place in the year 1817, there were then thirty-eight debtors, thirty
women, and twenty children--all had to exercise themselves in this
little yard: he does not say how many felons there were. The debtors'
ward consisted of two rooms, each of which was twenty feet long and
about nine feet broad. Each room was furnished with eight straw beds,
sixteen rugs, and a piece of timber for a pillow. Twenty prisoners slept
side by side on these beds! That gives a breadth of twelve inches for
each. No one therefore could move in bed. The place was shut up: in the
morning the heat and stench were so awful that when the door was opened
all rushed together, undressed as they were, into the yard for fresh
air. Now and then a man would be brought in with an infectious disease
or covered with vermin: they had to endure his company as best they
could. There was no infirmary: no surgeon: no conveniences whatever in
case of sickness. And the place was so crowded that those who might have
carried on their trade could not for want of space. As for the women's
ward, I forbear to speak. Think, however, of the noisome, horrible,
stinking place, narrow and confined, with its felons' ward of innocent
and guilty, tried and untried: the past masters in villainy with the
innocent country boy: the honest working man with his wife and children
slowly starving and slowly poisoned by the brutal law which permitted a
creditor to send him there for life for a paltry debt of a few
shillings. Think of the simple-minded country girl thrust into the
women's ward, where wickedness was authorised, where nothing was
disguised! I sometimes ask whether in the year 1998 the historian of
manners will call attention to the lamentable brutality of this the end
of the nineteenth century. There are some points as to which I am
doubtful. But I cannot believe that there will be anything alleged
against us compared with the sleek complacency with which the City
Fathers and the Legislators regarded the condition of the Debtors'
Prisons.

I have not forgotten the Marshalsea. The position of the Marshalsea
Prison was changed from its first site south of King Street in the year
1810, when it was removed to the site which it occupied down to the end,
overlooking St. George's Churchyard. The choice of that site is a good
illustration of English conservatism. Why was the Marshalsea brought
there? Because there had been a prison on the spot before. From time
immemorial the Surrey Prison had stood there. They called the place the
White Lyon. It still stood when the Marshalsea was brought there: it was
still standing when the Marshalsea was pulled down.

I think it was in the year 1877 or 1878 or thereabouts that I walked
over to see the Marshalsea before it was pulled down. I found a long
narrow terrace of mean houses--they are still standing: there was a
narrow courtyard in front for exercise and air: a high wall separated
the prison from the Churchyard: the rooms in the terrace were filled
with deep cupboards on either side of the fireplace: these cupboards
contained the coals, the cooking utensils, the stores, and the clothes
of the occupants. My guide, a working man employed on the demolition of
another part of the Prison, pointed to certain marks on the floor as, he
said, the place where they fastened the staples when they tied down the
poor prisoners. Such was his historic information: he also pointed out
Mr. Dorrit's room--so real was the novelist's creation. At the east end
of the terrace there were certain rooms which I believe to have been the
tap-room and the coffee-room. Then we came to the White Lyon, which at
the time I did not know to have been the White Lyon. It was a very
ancient building. It consisted of two rooms, one above the other: the
staircase and the floors were of most solid work: the windows were
barred: bars crossed the chimney a few feet up: large square nails were
driven into the oaken pillars and into the doors. The lower room had
evidently been kitchen, day room, sleeping room and all. Outside was a
tiny yard for exercise: this was the old Surrey Prison. I have seen
another prison exactly like it, and, if my memory does not play tricks,
it was at the little country town of Ilminster. This was a Clink, and on
this pattern, I believe, all the old Prisons were constructed. Beyond
the Clink was the chapel, a modern structure. So far as I know, Mr.
Dickens _père_, and Mr. Dorrit, were the only persons of eminence
confined in this modern Marshalsea. In the older Marshalsea all kinds of
distinguished people were kept captive, notably Bishop Bonner, who died
there. They say that it was necessary to bury him at midnight for fear
of the people, who would have rent his dead body in pieces if they
could. Perhaps. But it was not at any time usual for a mob of Englishmen
to pull a dead body, even of a martyr-making Marian Bishop, to pieces.
Later on, in the last century, it was the rule to bury at night. The
darkness, the flicker of the torches, increased the solemnity of the
ceremony. So that after all Bishop Bonner may have been buried at night
in the usual fashion. He lies buried somewhere in St. George's
Churchyard. It is now a pretty garden, whose benches in fine weather are
filled with people resting and sunning themselves: in spring the garden
is full of pleasant greenery: the dead parishioners to whom headstones
have been consecrated, if they ever visit the spot, may amuse themselves
by picking out their own tombstones among the illegible ones which line
the wall. But I hardly think, wherever they may now be quartered, they
would care to revisit this place. The owners of the headstones were in
their day accounted as the more fortunate sons of men: they were
vestrymen and guardians and churchwardens: they owned shops: they kept
the inns and ran the stage coaches and the waggons and the caravans:
their tills were heavy with guineas: their faces were smug and smiling:
their chins were double: they talked benevolent commonplace: they
exchanged the most beautiful sentiments: and they crammed their debtors
into these prisons.

There are other tenants of this small area: they belonged to the great
army--how great! how vast! how rapidly increasing!--of the
'Not-quite-so-fortunate.' They were brought here from the King's Bench
and the Marshalsea: they came from the Master's side and from the Common
side. They came here from the mean streets and lanes of the Borough:
they were the porters and the fishermen and the rogues and the grooms
and the 'service' generally. This churchyard represents all that can be
imagined of human patience, human work, human suffering, human
degradation. Everything is here beneath our feet, and we sit among these
memories unmoved and enjoy the sunshine and forget the sorrows of the
past.



CHAPTER XVI

THE PLEASURE GARDENS


It is somewhat remarkable that two books should have appeared almost at
the same time on the Pleasure Gardens of London--that of Messrs. Warwick
and Edgar Wroth, and that of Mr. H. A. Rogers. I refer the reader who
desires exact and special knowledge on the subject to these two books.
For my own part I have only to speak of two or three of these gardens,
and shall confine myself to certain sources of information neither so
exact nor so detailed as those from which Messrs. Warwick and Wroth have
drawn the material for their excellent work.

The Pleasure Gardens grew out of the old Bear Baiting Gardens. The
London citizen loved sport first and above all things: next, he loved
the country: to sit under the shade of trees in the summer: to walk upon
the soft sward; to smell the flowers: to rest his eyes upon country
scenes. He has always yearned for the country while he remained in town.
With these things he desired, as a concomitant of the entertainment,
good eating, good drinking, the merry sound of music not softly but
loudly played: the voices of those who sang: and a platform or floor for
dancing. All these things he could get in Paris Gardens so long as that
place existed, together with its bears and dogs. When the bears
disappeared, what followed? The Gardens continued without the bears.
There were also the Mulberry Gardens on the site of Buckingham House,
and the Spring Gardens at Charing Cross. In the month of July 1661
Evelyn visited the new garden of Foxhall, afterwards Vauxhall, and in
June 1665, the year of the Plague, Pepys spent the evening at the same
place, for the first time, and with great delight.

[Illustration: VAUXHALL GARDENS

(_From the Engraving by J. S. Müller_)]

The Pleasure Garden apart from the sport of Bear and Bull Baiting was
then beginning. Before long it became a necessity of life--at least, of
the gregarious and social life of which the eighteenth century was so
fond. Many things are said about that century, now so nearly removed
from us by the space of another century, but we cannot say that it was
not social, and that it was not gregarious. It had its coffee houses:
its clubs: its taverns: its coteries: its societies: it loved the
theatre: the opera: the concert: the oratorio: the masquerade: the
Assembly: the card-room: but most of all the eighteenth century loved
its Pleasure Gardens. It took every opportunity of getting away from the
quiet house to crowds and noise and the scene of merriment.

[Illustration: VAUXHALL JUBILEE ADMISSION TICKET]

Many things were required to make a Pleasure Garden. There must be,
first, abundance of trees--at first cherry trees, but these afterwards
disappeared: if possible, there should be avenues of trees: aisles and
dark walks of trees. There must be, next, an ornamental water with a
fountain and a bridge: there must be a row of rustic bowers or retreats
in which tea and supper could be served: there must be a platform for
open-air dancing and promenading: there must be card-rooms: there must
be a long room for dancing and for promenading, with a gallery for the
orchestra and the singers. Add to these things a crowd every night
including all classes and conditions of men and women. The eighteenth
century was by no means a leveller of distinctions, but all classes met
together without levelling. Distinctions were preserved: each party kept
to itself: the nobleman wore his star and sash: he did not pretend to be
on a level with the people around him: they liked him to keep up the
dignity of aristocratic separation: he brought Ladies to the Gardens,
sometimes in domino, sometimes not. They were not expected to speak to
the ladies outside their set: they danced together in the minuets:
after the minuets they withdrew. The main point about the company of the
Gardens was that each party was separate and kept separate. In the Park,
either in the morning or the afternoon, it was not difficult to make
acquaintances. The reason was that in the Park were only to be found in
the morning or the afternoon those people who were not engaged in
earning their livelihood. Accordingly, all professional men--lawyers,
physicians, attorneys, surgeons, artists, architects, literary people:
all those engaged in trade, from the greatest merchant to the smallest
shopkeeper, were excluded: they were occupied elsewhere. Therefore, the
servants and footmen not being allowed in the Park, but compelled to
wait outside, the people of position had the place to themselves, and
access was easy. In the Gardens it was different: all could enter who
paid the shilling for an entrance fee. Among them were the gentlemen in
the red coat who bore His Majesty's Commission: the young fellows about
town, a noisy disreputable band with noisy and disreputable companions:
the plain citizen with his wife and daughter, the young fellow who was
courting her: the young tradesman taking a holiday for once: the
highwayman: the common pickpocket, and whole troops of the customary
courtesan. All were here enjoying together--but separated into tiny
groups of two or three--the strings of coloured lamps, the blare of the
orchestra, the songs, the dances, and the supper. As for the last, it
seems to have been always a cold collation: it generally consisted of
chicken and a thin slice of ham, with a bowl of punch and a bottle of
Port. There was no affectation of fine or polite behaviour; everybody
behaved exactly as he pleased: the citizen was not _gêné_ by the
presence of the great lady: he prattled his vulgar commonplaces without
being abashed: nor did the great lady put on 'side,' or behave among her
own company with any affectation of dignity or reserve in the presence
of the mercer of Ludgate Hill in the next box. Perhaps the recognition
of rank made them all behave more naturally. After all, the mercer had
his own rank. He could look forward to becoming Alderman, Sheriff, and
Lord Mayor: he understood very well that he was already a good way up
the ladder: the social precedence which belongs to the possession of
money and the employment of many servants had already placed him in
front of a vast crowd of inferiors: he was perfectly satisfied with his
own position, although he could certainly never become a noble earl or
wear a star upon his breast, or hope to consort on equal terms with the
jewelled lady in silks which he knew (professionally) to be beyond all
price, with her rouged face and high-dressed head, who laughed so loud
and talked so fast with the noble lords her companions, one of whom was
blind drunk and the other was a little mincing beau who walked on his
toes with bent knees and carried his hat under his arm, and spoke under
his breath as if every word was to be listened to. Do you think the
honest mercer was indignant at the manners of the great? Not he: he
called for another bowl of punch and tied his handkerchief over his wig
to keep off the damp. In the box on the other side of the citizen from
Ludgate Hill was a party also taking supper and punch, with plenty of
the latter. They were under the lead of an extremely fine gentleman: his
white coat was covered with gold lace: his hat was laced in the same
way: his waistcoat was of flowered silk: his ruffles were of white
lace--lace of Valenciennes. The ladies with him were dressed with a
corresponding splendour. Everybody knew that the gentleman was a
highwayman: his face was perfectly well known: he had been going on so
long that his time must soon be up. In a few months at most he would
take that fatal journey in the cart to Tyburn, there to meet the end
common to his kind. A good many people in the Gardens knew, besides,
that the ladies with him--ladies of St. Giles in the Fields--were
dressed from the stores of a receiving house for stolen goods. Perhaps
the consciousness of this cheap and easy way of getting one's clothes
made the ladies so buoyantly and extravagantly happy, with their
sprightly sallies and their high-bred courtesy of adjectives. But the
mercer troubled himself not at all about them.

The toleration of the mercer ought to endear his memory to us. For in
all public assemblies there are things which must be tolerated. Less
wise, we shut up the Assembly. We cannot keep out the Lady of the
Camellias from the Pleasure Garden. Therefore we shut up the place. In
the eighteenth century this lady was told that everybody must behave
with a certain amount of restraint: we have improved upon that manner:
we cut off our nose to spite our face: we shut up the lovely Garden
because we cannot keep her out.

For the same reason we have practically forbidden the youth of the lower
middle class to practise the laudable, innocent, and delightful
diversion of dancing. Not a single place, except certain so-called
clubs, where the young people can now go to dance. Why? Because the
magistrates in their wisdom have concluded that vice free and unchecked
out of doors is better for the people than vice fettered and restrained
by the necessity of behaving decently, and compelled to hide itself
under the semblance of virtue. The Pleasure Gardens were shut up one
after the other for that reason. When will they return? And in what
form?

The Gardens of South London were not so celebrated as those of the
North. Against Ranelagh, Cremorne, Marylebone, Bagnigge Wells, the White
Conduit House--the South can only point to Vauxhall as a national
institution. They were, however, of considerable note in their time, and
were greatly frequented. They lay in a half circle, like pearls on a
chain, all round South London. There were the Lambeth Wells, the Marble
Hall, and the Cumberland Gardens at Vauxhall, besides Vauxhall itself;
the Black Prince, Newington Butts; the Temple of Flora, the Temple of
Apollo, the Flora Tea Gardens, the Restoration Spring Gardens, the Dog
and Duck, the Folly on the Thames; Cuper's Gardens; Finch's Grotto, the
Bermondsey Spa, and St. Helena Gardens, Rotherhithe. No doubt there were
others, but these were the principal Gardens.

Cuper's Gardens lay exactly opposite to Somerset House. When Waterloo
Bridge and Waterloo Bridge Road were constructed the latter passed right
through the former site of the Gardens. St. John's Church marks the
southern limit of the Gardens. They were opened about the year 1678 by
one Cuper, gardener to the Earl of Arundel. He begged such of the
statues belonging to his master as were mutilated, and decorated the new
gardens with them. Aubrey mentions them as belonging to Jesus College,
Oxford; he calls them Cupid's gardens, and speaks of the arbours and
walks of the place. There was a tavern connected with the gardens by the
riverside, and fireworks were exhibited. These gardens continued until
1753, when they were suppressed as a nuisance. Cunningham quotes the
prologue to Mrs. Centlivre's 'Busy Body.'

    The Fleet Street sempstress, toast of Temple sparks,
    That runs spruce neckcloths for attorneys' clerks,
    At Cupid's Gardens will her hours regale,
    Sing 'Fair Dorinda,' and drink bottled ale.

[Illustration: THE DOG AND DUCK, BETHLEM]

In the 'Sunday Ramble' (1794) the Dog and Duck is one of the last places
visited in the course of that very remarkable Sunday 'out,' which began
at four o'clock in the morning and ended at one o'clock next morning,
such was the zeal of the ramblers. The place was a tavern in St.
George's Fields. On its site now stands Bethlehem Hospital. It was first
built for the accommodation of those who came to this spot in order to
drink the waters of a spring supposed to possess wonderful properties,
especially in the case of cutaneous disorders and scrofula. The spring,
like so many other medicinal springs, has long since been forgotten.
Where is Beulah Spa? Who remembereth Hampstead Spa? Yet in its day the
spring in St. George's Wells had no small reputation. It was especially
in vogue between 1744 and 1770. Dr. Johnson advised Mrs. Thrale to try
it. When the Spa declined, the tavern looked out for other attractions;
it found them by day in certain ponds on the Fields close to the tavern:
these ponds especially on Sunday were used for the magnificent sport of
hunting the duck by dogs. All the ponds around London, especially those
lying on the east side of Tottenham Court Road, were used for this
sport. The gallant sportsmen, their hunt over, naturally felt thirsty:
they were easily persuaded to stay for the evening when on week days
there was music, with dancing, singing, supper, and more drink, and on
Sundays the organ, with a choice company of the most well-bred gentlemen
and ladies of similar breeding and taste.

Like Ranelagh and Bagnigge Wells, and indeed all the Pleasure Gardens,
the Dog and Duck was a favourite place for breakfasts. The fashion of
the public breakfast, now so completely forgotten, was brought to London
from Bath, Tunbridge Wells, and Epsom. Tea and coffee were served at
breakfast. After breakfast the people stayed on at the gardens, very
often all day and half the night at the Dog and Duck. There was a
bowling green for fine weather, there was also a swimming bath--I
believe, the only one south of the Thames. About three or four in the
afternoon there was dinner, with a bottle or several bottles of wine.
One of the ponds not then employed for duck-hunting was in the garden,
and served as an ornamental water, with alcoves or bowers round it; a
band played at intervals during the day. In the long room there was an
organ, with an excellent organist. In the evening, there was generally a
concert; the Dog and Duck maintained its own poet and its own composer.
All this sounds very innocent and Arcadian, but in truth the place was
acquiring a most evil reputation. In 1787 it was closed on Sunday, and
in 1799 it was suppressed. In the 'Sunday Ramble' (1794) the Dog and
Duck is open, but the Ramble may have taken place before 1787. Let us
see what is going on. Remember that it is Sunday evening. But there is
not the least trace of any respect for the day, and the place--to speak
the truth--is full of the vilest company in the world, whose histories
are described in the greedy fulness and with the hypocritical
indignation against the wickedness of the people which were common among
such writers a hundred years ago. I suppose they would not venture to
set down what they did, but for the pretence of indignation. Thus, there
is a certain City merchant, once a Quaker and formerly a bankrupt, but
now rich and flourishing again. His companion is an ex-orange-girl, his
mistress. Observe that the writer is certainly airing some City scandal
of the day, and that his readers know perfectly well who was meant.
There is a certain Nan Sheldon, who seems to have been a lady of some
conversational powers with a considerable fund of information about the
shady side of town life. There is also present a young lady described as
the mistress of the 'Rev. Dr. D----s, of St. G.' Here, no doubt, we have
a piece of contemporary humour which enables us to have a slap at the
Church. There is other company of the like kind, but this specimen must
suffice. As to the men, they are chiefly 'prentices and shopmen. At the
Dog and Duck the license to sell drink had been withdrawn. The manager,
however, met the difficulty by engaging a free vintner, _i.e._ a member
of the Vintners' Company, for whom no license was required. He
therefore came to sell the drink to the visitors. It is a curious
illustration of City privileges. Leaving the Dog and Duck, the Ramblers
visited the Temple of Flora, dropped a tear over the Apollo Gardens,
deserted and falling into ruins, and visited the Flora Tea Garden. The
company here was more respectable, in consequence of some separation
among the ladies; it was not, however, very orderly, and political
argument ran high.

From this Tea Garden they drove to the Bermondsey Spa Gardens. Let me
extract this account of this place, which was once so popular:

'We found the entrance presents a vista between trees, hung with lamps,
blue, red, green, and white; nor is the walk in which they are hung
inferior (length excepted) to the grand walk in Vauxhall Gardens. Nearly
at the upper end of the walk is a large room, hung round with paintings,
many of them in an elegant and the rest in a singular taste. At the
upper end of the room is a painting of a butcher's shop, so finely
executed by the landlord that a stranger to the place would cheapen a
fillet of veal or a buttock of beef, a shoulder of mutton or a leg of
pork, without hesitation, if there were not other pictures in the room
to take off his attention. But these paintings are not seen on a Sunday.

'The accommodations at this place on a Sunday are very good, and the
charges reasonable, and the captain, who is very intimate with Mr.
Keyse, declares that there is no place in the vicinity of London can
afford a more agreeable evening's entertainment.

'This elegant place of entertainment is situate in the lower road,
between the Borough of Southwark and Deptford. The proprietor calls it
_one_, but it is nearer two miles from London Bridge, and the same
distance from that of Black-Friars. The proprietor is Mr. Thomas Keyse,
who has been at great expense, and exerted himself in a very
extraordinary manner, for the entertainment of the public; and his
labours have been amply repaid.

'It is easy to paint the elegance of this place, situated in a spot
where elegance, among people who talk of _taste_, would be little
expected. But Mr. Keyse's good humour, his unaffected easiness of
behaviour, and his _genuine_ taste for the polite arts, have secured him
universal approbation.

'The gardens, with an adjacent field, consist of not less than four
acres.

'On the north-east side of the gardens is a very fine lawn, consisting
of about three acres, and in a field, parted from this lawn by a sunk
fence, is a building with turrets, resembling a fortress, or castle. The
turrets are in the ancient style of building. At each side of this
fortress, at unequal distances, are two buildings, from which, on public
nights, bomb shells, &c., are thrown at the fortress; the fire is
returned, and the whole exhibits a very picturesque, and therefore a
horrid, prospect of a siege.

'After walking a round or two in the gardens we retired into the
parlour, where we were very agreeably entertained by the proprietor,
who, contrary to his own rule, favoured us with a sight of his curious
museum, for, it being Sunday, he never shows to any one these articles;
but, the captain never having seen them, I wished him to be gratified
with such an agreeable sight.

'Mr. Keyse presented us with a little pamphlet, written by the late
celebrated John Oakman, of lyric memory, descriptive of his situation,
which a few years ago was but a waste piece of ground. "Here is now,"
said he, "an agreeable place, where before was but a mere wilderness
piece of ground, and, in my opinion, it was a better plan to lay it out
in this manner than any other wise, as the remoteness of any place of
public entertainment from this secured to me in my retreat a comfortable
piece of livelihood."

'We perfectly coincided in opinion with our worthy host, and, after
paying for our liquor, got into our carriage, but not before we had
tasted a comfortable glass of cherry brandy, for which Mr. Keyse is
remarkable for preparing.'

I am not here writing a history of South London. Were this a history,
Vauxhall Gardens would demand its own place, and a very large place. A
garden which continued to be a favourite resort from the year 1660 or
thereabouts until the year 1859, when it was finally abandoned, which
occupies so large a part in the literature of that long period, must
have its history told in length when a history is written of the place
where it stood. In this place I desire to do no more than to take off my
hat to this Queen of Gardens, and to recognise her importance. The
history of Vauxhall is an old story; it has been told at greater or less
length, over and over again. We seem to know all the anecdotes which
have been copied from one writer by another, and all the literature and
all the poetry about Vauxhall. The poetry is, indeed, very poor stuff.
The best are the lines of Canning:

    There oft returning from the green retreats
    Where fair Vauxhallia decks her sylvan seats;
    Where each spruce nymph, from City counters free,
    Sips the frothed syllabub or fragrant tea:
    While with sliced ham, scraped beef, and burnt champagne,
    Her 'prentice lover soothes his amorous pain.

What a chain of anecdotes it is! We begin in 1661 with Evelyn, who
treats the place with his accustomed brevity and coldness; we go on to
Pepys, who records how the visitors picked cherries, and how the
nightingales sang, and lets us understand how much he enjoyed his visits
there, and how delightful he found the place, and how much after his own
heart; we proceed to Congreve and Tom Brown, to Addison, to Fielding, to
Horace Walpole. We all know the Dark Walk, and how the ladies were taken
there, not unwillingly, to be frightened: we know the stage where they
danced: we know the orchestra; we know the Chinese Room: we know
Rowlandson's picture of the evening at Vauxhall with the Prince of
Wales, putting on princely arrogance in the middle, and the Duchess of
Devonshire and her friends apparently making fun of him; and in the side
box, having supper, Goldsmith and Boswell, and Mrs. Traill, and Dr.
Johnson; with Miss Linley singing; and we all know about the forty
thousand coloured lamps festooned about the trees.

London was not London, life was not worth having, without Vauxhall. Like
Mrs. Cornelys's masquerades and assemblies, Vauxhall was the great
leveller of the eighteenth century. A man might be an earl or a prince:
he would get no more enjoyment out of Vauxhall than a 'prentice who had
a little money to spare. And the milliner going to Vauxhall with that
'prentice was quite as happy as any lady in the land could be.

When one thinks of Vauxhall and all it meant, one is carried away by
admiration. To the City Miss who might belong to the City Assembly, but
most likely did not, there was no such spectacle in the world as those
avenues of trees with their thousands of coloured lamps; there was
nothing that so much made her heart leap up as the sight of the dancing
in the open air to the music of the orchestra in the high stand; there
was nothing so delightful as to sit in an arbour dimly lighted, and to
make a supper off cold chicken with a glass of punch afterwards--girls
drank punch then--to look out upon the company, resplendent, men and
women alike, in their dress, and ceremonious in their manners; to be
told how the one was the young Lord Mellamour and the angel with him was
a danseuse of Covent Garden: and that other gentleman behind them was
the Rev. Dr. Scattertext of St. Bride's; and that the dashing young
fellow in peach-coloured velvet was no other than Sixteen String Jack
the highwayman. Vauxhall, in fact, for two hundred years, was nothing
less than a national institution. All classes who could command a
decent coat went to Vauxhall. The Prince of Wales went there--once or
twice he was recognised and mobbed; all the great ladies went there; all
the lesser ladies; all the ladies of the half world; all the citizens,
from the Alderman to the 'prentice; all the adventurers; all the gallant
highwaymen. There was a charming toleration about the visitors to
Vauxhall. They were not in the least disturbed by the presence of the
highwaymen, of the adventurers, or of the ladies corresponding to those
gentlemen--not in the least; they walked together in the lanes and
aisles of the place; they ate supper in the next arbour; they saw the
young rakes carrying on openly and without the least disguise. The sober
citizen saw it; his sober wife saw it; her daughter saw it. There were
no complaints, save occasionally from the Surrey magistrates. The place
and the behaviour of the people are typical of the eighteenth century,
in which the maintenance of order was thrown upon the public, and there
were no police. If things got very bad in a pleasure garden, the
magistrates refused a license; if the visitors were robbed by highwaymen
on their way to and from the place, guards were appointed by the
managers. Vauxhall, however, was safer than most places, because most of
the people came by boat. In common with all places of amusement in the
eighteenth century, Vauxhall was late. The people seem to have been
allowed to stay there nearly all night.

There is a passage quoted in Chambers's 'Book of Days,' which I should
like to transfer with acknowledgments to this page. It is from the
'Connoisseur' of 1755, and discusses a Vauxhall slice of ham.

'When it was brought, our honest friend twirled the dish about three or
four times, and surveyed it with a settled countenance. Then taking up a
slice of the ham on the point of his fork, and dangling it to and fro,
he asked the waiter how much there was of it. "A shilling's worth, sir,"
said the fellow. "Prithee," said the cit, "how much dost think it
weighs?" "An ounce, sir." "Ah! a shilling an ounce, that is sixteen
shillings per pound; a reasonable profit, truly! Let me see. Suppose,
now, the whole ham weighs thirty pounds: at a shilling per ounce, that
is sixteen shillings per pound. Why, your master makes exactly
twenty-four pounds off of every ham; and if he buys them at the best
hand, and salts and cures them himself, they don't stand him in ten
shillings a-piece!"'

In 1841 there seemed every prospect that the gardens would be closed;
they were not closed, however, but were reopened and continued open
until the year 1859, where they were finally closed and the farewell
night was celebrated.

The scare, however, in 1841 produced in June a brief history of Vauxhall
Gardens in one of the morning papers--I do not know which--I have it as
a cutting only. It is as follows:

'Vauxhall Gardens are announced for public sale under Gye and Hughes's
bankruptcy, and their past celebrity deserves a notice, if only as a
memento of the pleasure the old and young have experienced in their
delightful retreats, while their hundredfold associations, such as the
journey of Sir Roger de Coverley to the gardens, old Jonathan Tyers, and
the paintings in the pavilions by Hayman and Hogarth, create an interest
seldom to be met with. The gardens derive their name from the manor of
Vauxhall, or Faukeshall, but the tradition that the property belonged to
Guy Fawkes is erroneous. The premises were in 1615 the property of Jane
Vaux, and the mansion was then called Stockdens. The gardens appear to
have been originally planted with trees and laid out into walks for the
pleasure of a private gentleman, Sir Samuel Moreland, who displayed in
his house and gardens many whimsical proofs of his skill in mechanics.
It is said these gardens were planted in the reign of Charles I.; nor is
it improbable, since, according to Aubrey, they were well known in 1667,
when Sir Samuel Moreland, the proprietor, added a public room to them,
"the inside of which," he says, "is all looking-glass and fountains and
very pleasant to behold, and which is much visited by strangers." The
time when they were first opened for the entertainment of the public is
involved in some uncertainty; their celebrity is, however, established
to be upwards of a century and a half old. In the reign of Queen Anne
they appear to have been a place of great public resort, for in the
"Spectator," No. 383, dated May 20, 1712, Addison has introduced Sir
Roger de Coverley as accompanying him in a voyage from Temple-stairs to
Vauxhall, then called Spring Gardens. He says: "We made the best of our
way to Foxhall;" and describes the gardens as "exceedingly pleasant at
this time of the year. When I considered the fragrancy of the walks and
bowers with the choirs of birds that sung upon the trees and the tribe
of people that walked under their shades, I could not but look on this
place as a sort of Mohammedan Paradise." Masks were then worn, at least
by some visitors, for Addison talks of "a mask tapping Sir Roger on the
shoulder and inviting him to drink a bottle of mead with her." A glass
of Burton ale and a slice of hung beef formed the supper of the party.
The place, however, resembled a tea-garden of our days till the year
1730, when Mr. Jonathan Tyers took a lease of the premises, and shortly
afterwards opened Vauxhall with a _Ridotto al Fresco_. The novelty of
the term attracted great numbers, and Mr. Tyers was so successful in
occasional repetitions as to be induced to open the gardens every
evening during the summer. Hogarth at this time had lodgings at
Lambeth-terrace, and, becoming intimate with Tyers, was induced to
embellish the gardens with his designs, in which he was joined by
Hayman. The house which he occupied is still shown, and a vine pointed
out which he planted. Tyers's improvements consisted of sweeps of
pavilions and saloons, in which these paintings were placed. He also
erected an orchestra, engaged a band of music, and placed a fine statue
of Handel by Roubiliac in a conspicuous part of the gardens. Mr.
Cunningham dates the appearance of this statue, which was Roubiliac's
earliest work, at 1732. Mr. Tyers afterwards purchased the whole of the
estate, which is copyhold of inheritance, and held of the Prince of
Wales, as lord of Kennington manor, in right of his Duchy of Cornwall.
The gardens were originally opened daily (Sunday excepted), and till the
year 1792 the admission was 1_s._; it was then raised to 2_s._;
including tea and coffee; in 1809 several improvements were made, lamps
added, &c., the price was raised to 3_s._ 6_d._, and the gardens were
only opened three nights in the week; in 1821 the price was again raised
to 4_s._ Upon the death of Mr. Jonathan Tyers, the gardens became the
property of Mr. Bryant Barrett, who married the granddaughter of the
original proprietor. They next descended to Mr. Barrett's sons, and from
them by right of purchase to the late proprietors. Mr. Thomas Tyers, a
son of the famous Jonathan Tyers, and author of "Biographical Sketches
of Johnson," and "Political Conferences," who died on February 1, 1787,
contributed many poetic trifles to the gardens. The representation of
the _Ridotto al Fresco_ is thus described by one of the newspapers of
June 21, 1732: "On Wednesday, at the _Ridotto al Fresco_ at Vauxhall,
there was not one half of the company as was expected, being no more
than 203 persons, amongst whom were several persons of distinction, but
more ladies than gentlemen, and the whole was managed with great order
and decency; a detachment of 100 of the Foot Guards being posted round
the gardens. A waiter belonging to the house having got drunk put on a
dress and went to _fresco_ with the rest of the company, but being
discovered he was immediately turned out of doors." The season of 1739
was for three months, and the admittance was by silver tickets. The
proprietors then announced that "1,000 tickets would only be delivered
at 25_s._ each, the silver of every ticket to be worth 3_s._ 2_d._, and
to admit two persons every evening (Sunday excepted) during the
season." It appears that these silver tickets were struck after designs
by Hogarth, and a plate of some of them shows the following:--Mr. John
Hinton, 212, 1794; on the reverse side the figure of Calliope. Mr. Wood,
63, 1750; on the reverse side three boys playing with a lyre, and the
motto "_Jocosæ conveniunt Lyræ._" Mr. R. Frankling, 70; on the reverse
side figure of Euterpe. Mr. Samuel Lewes, 87; on the reverse side the
figure of Erato. Mr. Carey, 11; on the reverse side the figure of
Thalia. This plate also exhibits the gold ticket, a perpetual admission
given to Hogarth by Jonathan Tyers, in gratitude for his advice and
assistance in decorating the gardens. After his decease it remained in
the hands of Mrs. Hogarth, his widow, who bequeathed it to her relation,
Mrs. Mary Lewis, who subsequently left it to Mr. P. F. Hart, who in his
will, in 1823, bequeathed it to Mr. John Tuck. It is hardly necessary to
say that the ticket is after Hogarth's own design. The face of it
presents the word "Hogarth," in a bold hand, beneath which is "_In
perpetuam beneficii memoriam._" On the reverse there are two figures,
surrounded with the motto, "_Virtus voluptas felices una._" It also
appears that Roubiliac furnished a statue of Milton for the gardens.
Among the singers Beard and Lowe were early favourites; then came
Dignum, Mrs. Weichsel, Mrs. Billington, Signora Storace, Incledon, Mrs.
Bland, &c. In later years, Misses Tunstall, Noel, Melville, and
Williams; Stephens, Love, Madame Cornega, and Madame Vestris; Mr.
Braham, Mr. Sinclair, Mr. Robinson, and Signor de Begnis, &c., with
Signor Spagnoletti as leader.'



CHAPTER XVII

SOUTH LONDON OF TO-DAY


[Illustration: A DOORWAY, CURLEW STREET, BERMONDSEY]

The expansion of London during the Nineteenth Century is in itself a
fact unparalleled in the history of cities. Those who call attention to
this miracle always point to the filling up of the huge area between
Highgate and Hampstead and Clerkenwell in the North, or the extension of
the town to Hammersmith on the West. Perhaps a little consideration of
the South may show a still more remarkable growth. I have before me a
map of the year 1834, only sixty-four years ago, showing South London as
it was. I see a small town or collection of small towns, occupying the
district called the Borough Proper, Lambeth, Newington, Walworth, and
Bermondsey. In some parts this area is densely populated, filled with
narrow courts and lanes; in other parts there are broad fields, open
spaces, unoccupied pieces of ground. At the back of Vauxhall Gardens,
for instance there are open fields; in Walworth there is a certain
place, then notorious for the people who lived there, called Snow's
Fields; in Bermondsey there are also open spaces, some of them gardens,
or recreation grounds, without any buildings. Battersea is a mere
stretch of open country. I myself remember the old Battersea Fields
perfectly well; one shivers at the recollection; they were low, flat,
damp, and, I believe, treeless; they were crossed, like Hackney Marsh,
by paths raised above the level; at no time of year could the Battersea
Fields look anything but dreary. In winter they were inexpressibly
dismal. As a boy I have walked across the fields in order to get to the
embankment or river wall from which one commanded a view of the Thames
with its barges and lighters going up and down--pleasant when the sun
shone on the river, but a mere shadow of the ancient glory when the
pleasure barges and the State barges swept majestically up the river
with the hautboys and the trumpets in the bows; when the swans by
thousands sailed upon the broad bosom of the waters, and in the middle
of the river the fisherman cast his net, as Edric had done fifteen
hundred years before at St. Peter's orders, when he brought out his
famous salmon. One walked along the embankment; the fields on one side
were lower than the waters on the other. Beyond the river were the trees
of Chelsea Hospital. Close to the river bank was an enclosure which was
called the Subscription Ground; here the subscribers came to shoot
pigeons--noble sport. If I remember aright, while the subscribing
sportsmen shot at the pigeons in the enclosure, others of low condition
who were not subscribers lurked about on the outside to shoot down those
birds which escaped from the murderers within. Close by the Subscription
Ground was a certain famous tavern called the Red House. I do not know
why it was famous, but everybody always said it was. I believe it was
much frequented on summer evenings, and that the subscribing sportsmen
close by, whether they hit their pigeon or not, proved excellent
customers for the drinks of the Red House. At that time there were
'famous' taverns all up and down the river on either bank. There are
still Riverside taverns, but the invasion of the new streets and houses
has driven them, considered as 'famous' taverns, either higher up, or
lower down. As mere commonplace public houses they probably remain
still. Duels were conducted on the Battersea Fields, and there were
certain historical associations in connection with these dreary flats.
Here, for instance, the Duke of Wellington fought his duel with Lord
Winchilsea. Other important people were also connected either with the
Fields or the Village of Battersea, but at the time I knew not anything
about them. The Battersea of my boyhood is gone absolutely: no trace of
it remains, except the Church. The Grosvenor Railway Bridge passes over
the site of the famous Red House; the most beautiful of all our Parks
covers the Subscription Shooting Grounds, together with most of the flat
and dreary fields; and houses by the thousand, with streets mean and
monotonous, stand where formerly the pigeons flew wildly, hoping to
escape those who waited outside the grounds as they had escaped those
who potted at them from within.

[Illustration: IN SNOW'S FIELDS, BERMONDSEY]

[Illustration: The Temple from the Surrey Bank]

[Illustration: HOLY TRINITY, ROTHERHITHE]

Let us turn to another part of the map and inquire into Rotherhithe. It
is curious that at one end we get Rotherhithe, the Place of Cattle; and
at the other Lambeth or Lambhythe, if it be the 'Place of Lambs' and not
the 'Place of Mud.' In 1834 the Commercial Docks are already there, but
without prejudice to the ancient and venerable docks of the preceding
century, Acorn Dock and Lavender Dock. A single street runs along the
Embankment, which it hides and covers: at the back of this street there
is a succession of small lanes and courts running back with tiny
houses--two or four rooms to each--on either side, and ending generally
in gardens of greenery--leaves and palings. You may still see, in 1898,
if you are lucky, the bows and bowsprit of a ship in one of the old
docks, sticking across the street, causing a momentary confusion in the
mind between land and water; there are riverside taverns which look as
if at a touch they would yield and slide into the mud below. In 1834
this street with these little lanes was the whole of Rotherhithe.
Inland--or in-marsh--ponds and ditches and creeping streams lay about;
one of the ponds survives to this day; you will find it in the middle of
the pretty garden they call Southwark Park, of which it forms the
ornamental water. And the rest of Rotherhithe, between the Park and
Bermondsey, is one unbroken mass of streets with no green thing and no
open space. All is filled up and built upon.

A little beyond Rotherhithe lies Deptford. On my map of 1834 I see a
little town, lying partly on the bank of the Thames, partly on the bank
of the Ravensbourne, which here widens out and forms Deptford Creek. The
greater part of the area of Deptford is taken up by the Dockyard, not
yet closed. As for the town, which now contains nearly 100,000 people,
about five-and-twenty little streets sufficed for all its people; it
boasted of two churches and two almshouses. One of these Havens of Rest
was so picturesque and so beautiful that it could not be suffered to
remain. Almshouses which are perfectly beautiful are only vouchsafed to
man for a limited period, lest other buildings become intolerable. Their
time expired, they are then carried off Heavenward.

Or turn your eyes further south. London in this direction now
covers--for the most part completely, in some parts leaving spaces and
fields here and there--Greenwich, Blackheath, Brockley, Peckham, Forest
Hill, Dulwich, Brixton, Stockwell, Camberwell, Clapham, Balham,
Wandsworth, Vauxhall, and Penge, and many others.

[Illustration: CZAR PETER'S HOUSE, DEPTFORD.]

It is difficult, now that the whole country south of London has been
covered with villas, roads, streets, and shops, to understand how
wonderful for loveliness it was until the builder seized upon it. When
the ground rose out of the great Lambeth and Bermondsey Marsh--the cliff
or incline is marked still by the names of Battersea Rise, Clapham Rise,
and Brixton Rise--it opened out into one wild heath after
another--Clapham, Wandsworth, Putney, Wimbledon, Barnes, Tooting,
Streatham, Richmond, Thornton, and so south as far as Banstead Downs.
The country was not flat: it rose at Wimbledon to a high plateau; it
rose at Norwood to a chain of hills; between the Heaths stretched
gardens and orchards; between the orchards were pasture lands; on the
hill sides were hanging woods; villages were scattered about, each with
its venerable church and its peaceful churchyard; along the high roads
to Dover, Southampton, and Portsmouth bumped and rolled, all day and
all night, the stage coaches and the waggons; the wayside inns were
crowded with those who halted to drink, those who halted to dine, and
those who halted to sleep: if the village lay off the main road it was
as quiet and as secure as the town of Laish. All this beauty is gone; we
have destroyed it: all this beauty has gone for ever; it cannot be
replaced. And on the south there was so much more beauty than on the
north. On the latter side of London there are the heights with
Hampstead, Highgate, and Hornsey--one row of villages; but there is
little more. The country between Hatfield or St. Albans and Hampstead is
singularly dull and uninteresting: it is not until one reaches Hertford
or Rickmansworth that the explorer comes once more into lovely country.
But the loveliness of South London lay almost at the very doors of
London: one could walk into it; the heaths were within an easy walk, and
the loveliness of Surrey lay upon all.

I have mentioned already some of the heaths, those which remain at the
present moment. It will be a matter of surprise to the reader to hear of
the many waste and wild places which have been appropriated and built
over in the last two hundred years. In the parish of Lambeth alone, an
extensive tract, it is true, there was nearly 500 acres of commons:
namely, Kennington, Norwood, Norwood Common (in another part of
Norwood), Hall Lane, Knight's Hill Green, Half Moon Green, Rush Common,
South Stockwell Common, South Lambeth and North Stockwell Common. With
the exception of the first all these are now gone.

[Illustration: ALLEYN'S ALMSHOUSES, 1840]

Look at Dulwich--the peaceful and picturesque village of Dulwich on this
map of 1834. It lies among its trees, its gardens, and its fields: the
venerable college of Alleyn is the glory of the village--nothing more
beautiful than this almshouse with its hall and its picture gallery. Yet
the people flocked out to Dulwich less for the picture gallery than the
shady walks, the fields, and a certain tavern--the Greyhound--which was
beloved by everybody, and believed to contain a particular brew of beer,
a particular kind of old Jamaica for punch, and a particular vintage of
port not to be found anywhere else, even in a City company's cellars.
There was, in fact, no more favourite place of resort for the better
sort of citizens of London than Dulwich in the summer. For the poorer
sort it was too far off, and cost too much in conveyance. The Dulwich
stage ran two or three times a day: it was not too long a drive from the
city; the young men rode--in those days the young men could all
ride--even John Gilpin thought he could ride; they hired a horse as we
now get into a cab. For those who lived in any suburb on the south,
Dulwich was an easy walk. Not far from the college and the village--Mr.
Pickwick lived there in 1834--were the Dulwich Fields, as beautiful and
interesting as those of Battersea were the contrary: there were, I
think, five of them in succession: the little stream called the Effra
rose somewhere in the neighbourhood, and ran about, winding through the
fields in a deep channel with rustic bridges across. In older days--at
the end of the eighteenth century, for example, the Effra, a bright and
sparkling stream, ran out of the fields above what is now called the
Effra Road, and so along the south side--or was it the north?--of
Brixton Road. Rustic cottages stood on the other side of the stream,
with flowering shrubs--lilac, laburnum, and hawthorn--on the bank, and
beds of the simpler flowers in the summer: the gardens and the cottages
were approached by little wooden bridges, each provided with a single
rail painted green. That, however, was before my time. In the 'fifties
the boys used to play in these fields, jumping over the stream: when
they left the fields and got into the village they looked about for Mr.
Pickwick and for Sam Weller, if haply they might see either. But I do
not learn that either sage or servant ever gratified those eyes of faith
by an incarnation.

Here are three hills close together: Herne Hill, Denmark Hill, and
Champion Hill. On Denmark Hill Ruskin once lived; but in the 'fifties I
was not conscious of that fact or of his greatness. It must be saddening
to a great man to reflect that the schoolboys have no respect for him.
The road up the hill was somewhat gloomy on account of the trees: the
houses, with their gardens and lawns, and carriage drives, and
smoothness and snugness, betokened in those years the institution of
evening prayers. I fear I may be misunderstood. At that time great was
the power and the authority of seriousness. To be serious was
fashionable, if one may say so, in City circles. Respectability was
nearly always serious: it was divided into two classes: that which had
morning prayers only, and that which had evening prayers as well. With
the young, the latter institution was unpopular--no one of the present
younger generation can understand how unpopular it was: a house which
had evening prayers made a deliberate profession of a seriousness which
was something out of the common, which the young people disliked, as a
rule; and it insisted on the sons getting home in time for prayers. This
profession of seriousness generally belonged to a large house, beautiful
gardens, rich conservatories, a large income, and a carriage and pair.
Denmark Hill used to appear to outward view as more especially a suburb
belonging to the serious rich, who could afford a profession of more
than common earnestness.

[Illustration: DULWICH COLLEGE, 1780]

Herne Hill was remarkable for consisting of three houses only, each with
its parklike grounds and gardens and its noble trees. Champion Hill I
remember as a green and grassy slope: there were no houses at all upon
it: but there was a road, and at the bottom of the road a green called
Goose Green--you may still find this tract of grass, but I believe it is
now pinched and attenuated. On Goose Green they kept ponies for hire:
the boys used to ride them up the hill and gallop them down the hill.
Beyond this green there was a much larger expanse called Peckham Rye: so
far as I can remember it was a most uninviting place formerly; not a
wild heath like Putney or Hampstead, not a waste place covered with fern
and gorse and bramble and wild trees; but a barren, dreary expanse of
uncertain grass. Boys would perhaps have played cricket upon it in
summer, but there were then no boys at Peckham Rye. Now, all this
country is covered with houses, and Peckham is like Bloomsbury itself
for streets and terraces and squares.

We have not only destroyed the former beauty of South London: we have
forgotten it. Ask a resident of Penge--one of the many thousands of
Penge--what this suburban town was like seventy years ago. Do you think
he can tell you anything of Penge Common? Has he ever heard of any Penge
Common? Well, it is exactly seventy-one years ago--viz. in May
1827--that Mr. William Hone--the compiler of the 'Every-Day Book,'
climbed up outside the Dulwich stage, proposing to visit the picture
gallery of Dulwich College. Hone was one of the first of those curious
and inquisitive persons who began to employ their summers in exploring
the unknown villages and strange places round London. The picture
gallery he could not see because it was closed; he therefore walked
across the country from Dulwich to a place called Penge. At the top of a
hill he found a choice of three roads. He chose that which led through
Penge Common. The place was thickly wooded: it was, he says, 'a
cathedral of singing birds.' At the mere recollection of that choir he
bursts into verse--other people's verse. Alas! the Common had already,
even then, been ravished from its owners, the people: it was enclosed;
it was doomed; it was about to be built upon. Mr. Hone consoled himself,
however, at the 'Old Crooked Billet,' with eggs and bacon and
home-brewed ale. Again, is there anyone in Penge who now remembers the
hanging woods? They hung over a hillside, and were as beautiful as the
hanging woods of Cliveden. But, like the Common, they are gone.

[Illustration: From the Tower of St. Saviour's]

Or let us ask the resident of Norwood what he remembers of its ancient
glories; whether there were any ancient glories. Has he heard of the
famous Norwood oak? Of the Norwood Spa? Of the gypsies of Norwood? Why,
the Queen of all the gypsies, unless there was a more powerful sovereign
at Jedburgh, held her court and camp at Norwood. Has this resident heard
of the views from the top of the hill, four hundred feet above the level
of the sea, whither the people flocked by hundreds to see the view and
to wander in the woods?

All this beauty is destroyed. Of course, the destruction was inevitable.
One accepts the inevitable with a sigh; we cannot have town and country
together. The woods are gone, the rural life is gone, encroachments have
been made upon the commons, the wayside tavern--the place was full of
wayside taverns--is gone. What remains of all this beauty is a fragment
here and there. Clapham Common, once a heath, now a park; Wimbledon
Common, Tooting Common; these expanses are mercifully left us for
breathing-places. Some of them, like Clapham, are transformed into
imitations of a park, instead of being left as a heath. All of them are
bereft, of course, of their old accompaniments; they have lost the wood
beside the heath, the farm, the ploughed lands, the tinkle of the sheep
bell, the song of the skylark.

We have seen in the course of these chapters some of the associations of
South London. I confess that, for my own part, I am not happy in
considering associations connected with rows of terraces and villas.
Here, you say, was once the house, with the park, of such and such a
great man. Really! I dare say. But it is now covered with gentility. If
I am taken to a slum--such a slum as that on the west of St. Mary
Overies, and am told that in this place was Winchester House, I am at
once interested. Why should the memory of the past appeal to our
imagination more in a slum than in a brand new, spick and span
collection of pleasant country villas? Is it from a feeling that all
things tend to decay, and that the new suburb speaks not of decay? Who,
for instance, stepping from the south-east corner of Tooting Common into
the place which was once Streatham Park, can think of Mrs. Thrale and
Dr. Johnson among these roads and villas? At Tooting itself, one might
remember, were it not for the houses, Daniel De Foe, who founded the
first Independent chapel there. At Wandsworth, if it were not so much
built upon, I might see Voltaire walking about. At Putney, but for the
villas, I should look for Pitt. Oh! there are a thousand people once
living, and walking, and playing their parts in their villages, whose
wraiths and spectres would willingly haunt them still, but cannot for
the bricks and the walls, the chimneys and the smoke, the roads and the
trams.

We have destroyed the beauty of South London: we have also made its
historical associations impossible.

[Illustration: RED CROSS GARDENS, Southwark]

The first settlers or colonisers of this region, apart from its rural
folk, came from London about the time when roads began to be tolerable;
that is to say, late in the seventeenth century; they were the great
folk, the leisured folk, the Quality, who had suburban houses in
addition to their town houses and their country houses. They sought
shelter in the quiet retreats of Clapham, Streatham, or Norwood. These
people did not come, however, to settle, but only remained, as a rule,
for a year or two, for a few months, for a season. When the roads
became so far improved as to make driving easy and pleasant, the city
merchants came and built or bought big houses, and drove in and out
every day in their carriage and pair. They did not buy estates, as a
rule: they bought a substantial house and grounds, and sat down therein.
They had large gardens behind, with greenhouses where they grew early
strawberries; they had in front a broad lawn with a carriage drive; they
liked to have on the lawn two stately cedars, whose branches swept the
grass. They brought their friends down from Saturday to Monday. In
course of time other people came; but the first comers--these
merchants--were the aristocracy, the first families of the suburbs. In
the newer places there are still to be found the first families; in the
older suburbs they have all disappeared from the place. Thus Clapham, I
believe, knows no longer a Macaulay, a Wilberforce, a Venn. These were
people of national distinction. Of course there were not in other
suburbs first families who rose to the giddy heights attained by these
fortunate aristocrats of the suburbs; but there were many which had
among them ex-Lord Mayors and Aldermen; there were many persons among
them of dignity and authority. Alas! the first families are gone: there
is now no aristocracy of the suburb left. It is a pity. There should be
in every community some whose position entitles them to respect and
authority; there should be some to take the lead naturally; there should
be some who should maintain the standards of conduct, ideas, and
principles. Especially is this the case when by far the greater part of
the people in a community are engaged in trade.

[Illustration: ST. SAVIOUR'S DOCK]

I cannot quite avoid the use of figures, because a comparison between
the population of these villages in 1801 with that of these great towns
in 1898 is so startling that it must be recorded. Battersea has risen
from 3,365 to 165,115; Camberwell from 7,059 to 253,076; Lambeth from
27,985 to 295,033; Lewisham from 4,007 to 104,521; Wandsworth from
14,283 to 187,264. Or, taking the whole area of South London, that part
which is covered by the electoral districts, there is now a population
of very nearly two millions; in other words the population, in less than
a hundred years, has been multiplied by ten. That of London itself, in
the same time, the London including the City, Clerkenwell, Whitechapel,
Bloomsbury, and Westminster, has been multiplied during the same time by
five. What has caused this enormous increase in South London? Well,
people must live somewhere; the old limits proved insufficient. First,
places which had been dotted over with fields and gardens and vacant
places, such as Southwark on the west side, and Bermondsey, were
completely built over and inhabited. Then, when it became a problem how
to stow away the people within reach of their work, the 'short stage'
was supplemented by the omnibus. Next South London stretched itself out
farther; it began to include Camberwell, Brixton, Stockwell, Clapham,
and Wandsworth. These were separate suburbs lying each among its own
gardens; the inhabitants were not clerks, but principals and employers,
substantial merchants and flourishing shopkeepers. The clerks lived
nearer London, mostly on the north of the river. Lastly came the
railway, when London made another step outward, so as to take in the
places lying south of Clapham and Brixton. Then the builder began; he
saw that a new class of residents would be attracted by small houses and
low rents. The houses sprang up as if in a single night; streets in a
month, churches and chapels in a quarter. The population of South London
no longer consists of rich merchants, principals, and partners. Clerks,
assistants, and employés of all kinds now crowd the morning and evening
trains.

If you want to form some idea of the South London folk, go stand inside
Cannon Street Station and watch the trains come in, each with its
freight of those who earn their daily bread within the City. See them
pass out--by the hundred--by the thousand--by the fifty thousand. The
brain reels at the mere contemplation of this mighty multitude which
comes in every morning and goes out every afternoon. As they hurry past
you observe on each the same expression, the same set eagerness, with
which the day's work is approached. Employer or employé, principal or
clerk, it matters nothing. The clerk, who will get none of the thousands
he is helping to secure, comes in to town as eager for the fray as his
master; the fighting instinct is in the man; his face means battle,
daily battle, in which the weapons are superior knowledge, earlier
knowledge, keen sight, readiness, ruthlessness, while there is as much
need, for success, or courage tenacity, and bluff as in any battle
between contending armies. The many twinkling feet pass out of the
station by the hundred thousand, every morning, to the field of battle.
The English are a warlike people; they enjoy the field of battle; the
City is like that state of beatitude which the pious Dane desired, in
which there would be fighting every day, and all day, and for ever.

[Illustration: Below Cherry Garden Pier]

In South London there are two millions of people. It is therefore one of
the great cities of the world. It stands upon an area about twelve
miles long and five or six broad--but its limits cannot be laid down
even approximately. It is a city without a municipality, without a
centre, without a civic history; it has no newspapers, magazines, or
journals; it has no university; it has no colleges, apart from medicine;
it has no intellectual, artistic, scientific, musical, literary
centre--unless the Crystal Palace can be considered a centre; its
residents have no local patriotism or enthusiasm--one cannot imagine a
man proud of New Cross; it has no theatres, except of a very popular or
humble kind; it has no clubs, it has no public buildings, it has no West
End. It is argued that although it has none of these things, yet it has
them all by right of being a part of London. That is, in a sense, true.
The theatres, concerts, picture galleries of the West End are accessible
to the South. Far be it from me to deny the culture of Sydenham and the
artistic elevation of Tooting. Yet one feels there must surely be some
disadvantage in being separated from the literary and artistic circles
whose members, it must be confessed, reside for the most part in North
London. It must surely, one thinks, be a disadvantage for a young man
who would pursue a career in art not to live among people who habitually
talk of art and think of art. It must surely be some disadvantage to
live in a place where the people, when they are gathered together,
mostly allow the conversation to turn upon things connected with the
City.

How are these two millions distributed?

There are, in fact, four layers. First, there is the 'submerged'
element, the people of the slums of which mention has been made. Their
numbers and their proportion to the whole I know not. Next, there are
the working people, those for whom the long lines, the endless lines, of
barracks called model lodging-houses, have been built. Here they live by
the hundred thousand--by the million: there are more than a million
working men in South London. For their use are the shops of the
Borough, chiefly provision shops, and the public houses. The third layer
is found on a slip of ground, of which Newington and Kennington may be
taken as representative: it consists principally of lodging-houses for
clerks. The fourth layer is that of the suburban villa, from the little
semi-detached cottage to the stately mansion. The 'High Street,' filled
with shops, is for the villas.

[Illustration: The George Inn

Little Dorrit's Window in the Marshalsea]

Now, the whole of this immense population lives upon the City. The
bread-winners go in and out every day; the local shops provide for the
houses, and are paid out of the money made in the City; the local
doctor, the local house agent, the local schoolmaster, the local
clergyman, all receive their share of the money made in the City; even
if there be, here and there, a literary man, his wares are bought by the
money made in the City; the artist looks for his patron to the City;
the working man, whatever his work, is paid out of the City, so that the
first function of the City is to feed and supply all these millions. If
at any time the trade of the City were to decay, these suburbs would
decay as well; if the decay were gradual, they would slowly cease to
spread, begin to show empty houses and deserted streets; if the decay
were to mean ruin, the suburbs would themselves be speedily deserted.
Then would be seen a deserted city on a scale never before equalled.
Tadmor in the Wilderness would be a mere little wheelbarrow full of
stones compared with suburban London given over to decay and wreck.

Two millions of people, most of whom belong to the working class! The
brain reels at thinking of this teeming multitudinous life; these armies
of men, women, and children living in the slums and in the huge,
unlovely barracks. The very number makes it impossible to grasp the
enormity of the mass; the vastness of the population makes one feel as
if individual effort would be absolutely useless. In a sense it is
useless, because it can only touch one or two, and what are they among
so many? But in another sense, as I will presently show, individual
effort may produce consequences both deep and widespread.

It seems, again, when one contemplates this mass of humanity--this
compact round ball of men and women, to make which two millions have
been brought together--as if any one life was nothing, as if the life of
any one out of the heap--any girl, any lad--was wholly unimportant and
trivial, however that life were spent. That is not so: every heap is
made up of atoms; the influence of the individual is as great in a
densely populated place as in a village. One example is precious--beyond
all price--in a model dwelling-house of Bermondsey as in the most
retired community of rustics. It is very easy to generalise from the
mass: the dweller of the slums stands before the mind's eye, beery,
unwashed, in rags, inarticulate, his brain filled with thoughts which
may better be described as suspicions, desirous of nothing but of food,
drink, and warmth. That is what we think of him. It is because we do not
know him. Ask those who go down among these people habitually, they will
tell you of differences and distinctions among them as among ourselves,
of memories of better things, of resignation rather than despair, and,
at the very worst, of traits of generosity and unselfishness worthy of a
clean cottage and the air of a village green. We must be very careful
how we form general conclusions about men and women.

[Illustration: Alcove from Old London Bridge, now at Guy's]

But--two millions of people! And every one of them wanting all the time
what he thinks will make his life more happy. For the riverside folk the
wants are few, but they are daily wants. With them, literally, it is a
question of daily bread. Happy are the people whose wants are more
numerous and their happiness more complex!

Let me terminate this chapter by a brief account of certain work of a
philanthropic kind which is characteristic of the place and of the time.
Many and various are the attempts and the associations and the machinery
for raising some of these people and for keeping others from sliding
down. There are the parish clergy, of late years better organised than
at any previous time, more active, and more largely assisted; they have
planted evening schools and clubs, for boys and girls. One must put the
Church of England first, not only because her clergy began the work of
rescue, but also because hers is still the larger part. There is, next,
the indirect work of the medical students of Guy's and St. Thomas's, who
go in and out among the worst courts, tolerated because they come to
doctor the sick, and do not ask disagreeable questions about the
children's school. There are, next, places which aim at civilising by
the presentation of things civilised. For instance, there is a very
pleasing institute in Whitecross Street, where a garden, an open air
band, a lecture or concert hall, and a row of cottages beautiful to look
upon are provided as a standard to which the people may rise by degrees.
There are one or two Polytechnics for the lads, and, lastly, there are
the 'Settlements,' college settlements and others. Let me briefly
describe the work and aims of one of these settlements. I have before me
the last Report of the Browning Settlement in Walworth. It is called the
Browning Settlement because its headquarters is the chapel in York
Street in which Robert Browning was christened.

[Illustration: The Entrance Gates to Guy's]

As for their plan of work, perhaps the aims and methods of a
'settlement' are not too well known for repetition. They are not all the
same, but the differences are slight. The directors of this settlement,
for instance, desire to plant a settlement house in every poor street; a
house which shall be inhabited by the workers, men or women, and shall
serve as a model for the other people in the street; example, in fact,
is relied upon as a potent influence. There is, or will be, a large club
house and coffee tavern for men and women, boys and girls. Once a week
there is a concert in the hall. The members of the settlement take as
large a part as possible in the local government; they have laid out a
burial-ground at the back of their hall as a garden; they have a medical
mission which gives consultations free; some of them are poor men's
lawyers; they have introduced the University Extension Lectures; they
have founded thrift agencies; they hold Sunday afternoons for the men;
they have a maternity society; they have a clothes store; they have an
adult school. Classes are held in hygiene, mathematics, and classics;
there have been Shakespeare readings, music, singing, country holidays,
summer camps, children's holidays; there is a boys' brigade; there is
musical drill; there are May Day and Harvest Festivals; and there are,
in addition, works of religion and temperance which I have not
enumerated above.

The keynote of all such work as this is, for the workers, personal
service; for the people, the influence of example, the attraction of
things which they understand at once to be a great deal more pleasant
than the bar and the tap-room; such a variety of work and recreation as
may drag all into the net except the substratum of all, whom nothing can
lift out of the mire.

One or two things have yet to be learned as regards these settlements.
First, how large an area in a densely populated part can be covered by a
single settlement? Next, how many young men can be found to carry on the
work? For instance, if the Browning Settlement can reach--of course it
cannot--all the people of Walworth, which is in the Parish of Newington,
and includes 120,000 people, there ought to be nine other settlements in
South London from Battersea to Greenwich, both included. If we give
20,000 people for each settlement, then there ought to be at least fifty
settlements for the millions of the working class. The Report does not
state how many residents there are, but gives a list of the officers and
managers of departments, from which it would seem that about thirty are
actively engaged from day to day. So that fifteen hundred voluntary
workers in all would be required in order to cover this land of slums
with an effective string of settlements.

[Illustration: A Former Entrance to St. Thomas's Hospital]

There never was a time when more determined efforts have been made for
the elevation of the submerged, and there never was a time when so many
young men and young women have been found ready to give the whole of
their time, or all their spare time, to the work. Whether they will
succeed in effecting a permanent improvement remains to be seen;
whether the attraction of personal devotion which is now passing over
the minds of the young will continue and remain with us has also to be
proved. The directors of the Browning Settlement meantime declare--I
have no intention of questioning the truth of their assertion--that they
find already among the people 'a quickening of spirit, shown in keener
intellectual interest, intenser civic ardour, warmer friendship, and
more avowed piety.' If such are the fruits of a settlement, we cannot
but desire for South London a chain of settlements reaching from
Battersea to Greenwich, both inclusive.

    NOTE.--Since this was written several new Theatres have been built
    in South London. I should therefore like to correct the passage on
    p. 320 which states that the Theatres are humble. Also I would
    acknowledge the existence of local newspapers, and instead of saying
    that it has no public buildings I would say only one or two old
    buildings.



INDEX


Acrensis, Thomas, 161

Actors, Company of, 225-228

Ailwin, Childe, 52

Albion Island, 4

Alfred repairs the Walls, 31

Allectus, Emperor, 18, 26

Alleyn, Edward, 271

Arundell, Archbishop, 114, 116

Asclepiodotus, 29

Awdry, Legend of, 15


Bankside, 217

Battersea Fields, 303, 304

Battle of Clapham Common, 18

-- on London Bridge, 148-150

Bear Garden Alley, 214

'Below Bridge,' 229

Bermondsey, Religious House, 51

-- Spa Gardens, 292

-- Hall, 233

Bill of a Feast, 265

Boadicea, Queen, 26

Boleyn, Anne, 122

Bombardment of London, 153

Borough Compter, 249, 272, 278

-- Society, 260, 261

Bridge across the River, 12

-- at the Barefoot Tavern, 264

-- Construction of, 29

-- Destroyed and repaired, 44, 45

--, The, 25

-- when built, 26

Bridges, Roman Method of Building, 28

Bull and Bear Baiting, 210, 211

Burials and Marriages in St. Mary Overies, 64


Cade's Rebellion, 148

Canal of Cnut, Maitland's Discovery of, 38

Canterbury, Pilgrimages to, 163

-- Tales, 168-176.

Carausius, History of, 18

Causeway across Southwark Marsh, 6, 7

-- the Lie of, 6, 7

Chapel of St. Peter on the Wall, 4

Charles II.'s Restoration, 129

Charlton Fair, 188

Chaucer's Company of Pilgrims, 168-174

Chelsea--'Isle of Shingle,' 6

Christmas at Kennington Palace, 77-79

Clapham Common Battle, 18

-- Rise, 5

Clink Prison, 248

Cnut's Canal, Course of, 40, 41

-- Siege, 38

-- Trench, 38

Commercial Docks, 234, 305

Copt Hall or Vauxhall, 111

Count of the Saxon Shore, 17

Cranmer, Martyrdom of, 65

Cuper's Gardens, 252, 288


Danes defeated, 35

Danish Alliance against London, 32, 33

-- Invasion, Second, 36

Debtors' Prisons, 272

Denmark Hill, 311

Deptford, 234-238, 306

'Dog and Duck,' 289-292

Domesday Book compiled, 72

Dover Road, 25

Dry Ground beyond Kennington, 5

Duels in Battersea Fields, 304

Dulwich Fields, 309


Earl Godwine's Invasion, 42

Earliest Maps of South London, 47

Edmund fights Cnut, 38

Edward the Third's Entertainment at Eltham Palace, 96

Effra River, 310

Elizabeth, Queen, at Greenwich, 103, 105, 108

Elizabeth Woodville, 62

Eltham Palace, 69, 74, 75, 89-97

Eltham Palace, Remains of, 94;
  a Royal visit, 94-96

Embankment, Early Repairs of, 12

-- First, of River, 11, 12

Extent of South London, 2;
  its Islets or Eyots, 2-3


Fabri, Felix, Pilgrimage of, 176

Fairs of London, 179

Falconbridge, Bastard of, 153

Falcon Stream, 3

Falstaff, Sir John, History of, 134-152

Ferries across Marsh, 26

Field, Nathan, 223

Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, 110

Fleet sent against the Danes, 32

Ford of Thorney, 5

Freemantle, History by, 1
[Transcriber's Note: The reference on page 1 is to Freeman not Freemantle.]


Gildable Manor, 48

Gokstad's ship, 33, 40, 41

Goose Green, 311

Great South Marsh, 2

Green Dragon Inn, 262

Greenwich Fair, 188

-- Hospital, 109

-- Palace, 97-109


Hackney Marsh, 11

-- Marshes, 6

Hanger, Colonel, Memoirs of, 275

Harold Harefoot, 71

Hengist and Æsc, 20

Henry III. at Eltham, 90

-- VI.'s Coronation, 126-129

Herne Hill, 311

High Street, Borough, 10

-- -- Southwark, 254

Hope Theatre, Southwark, 221

Horseferry Road, Origin of Name, 5

Horselydown, 231

-- Fair, 229

Hubert, Archbishop of Canterbury, 118


Inns of Southwark, 16, 262, 263

Insignia of Pilgrimage, 157

Islands in the Marsh, 2

Isle of Bramble, 9

-- -- or Westminster, 4


Juxon, Archbishop, 120


Katharine of Aragon, Marriage of, 129

Katharine of Valois, 56-60

Kennington, Richard II.'s connection with, 81-88

-- Palace, 69, 73;
  owned by Theodric, 72;
  Christmas at, 78-80

Kings and Princes connected with Kennington, 81

King's Bench Prison, 272, 274


Lady Fair or Southwark Fair, 179-185

Lambeth Palace, 109

-- -- visited by Royalty, 114

Langton, Stephen, 118

Legend of Awdry, 15

'Le Loke,' 64

'Liberties' of South London, 48

'Liberty' Prisons, 49

London and Southwark, Difference between, 22

-- as a Port, 10

-- attacked by Bastard of Falconbridge, 154-156

-- Original Site of, 23

-- Site of, from the Causeway, 7

-- Third Siege of, by Danes, 36, 37

Long Barn, The, 70, 73, 75

Lord Mayor's Pageants, 133


Maitland's Discovery of Cnut's Canal, 38

Manor of Lambeth, 117

Marian Persecution, St. Mary Overies connected with, 199-204

Marriages and Burials in St. Mary Overies, 64

-- at St. Mary Overies, 192, 193

Marsh, Great South, 2

-- Islands in, 2

Marshalsea, 279

Memories of Greenwich, 98, 99

Mint Street, Southwark, Sanctuary at, 242, 246

Monastic Houses, 50

Montagu Close, Southwark, 242

Monuments in St. Mary Overies, 196-198

Morden College, 239


New Mint Sanctuary, 246

Nonesuch, 77

Norfolk College, 239

-- House, 110


Origin of Settlements in South London, 17

Owen Tudor, 56-60


Paris Gardens, 215

-- -- Baiting at, 212

Parish Clerks, Company of, 210

Parliament at Lambeth Palace, 113

Pax Romana, 17, 43

Payn, John, 147, 151

Peckham Rye, 312

Penge Common, 312

Philanthropic Work, 324

Pilgrimage a Mockery, 165, 166

-- Insignia of, 157

Pilgrimages, Choice of, 159, 160

Pilgrims starting from Southwark, 158

Playhouses in Southwark, 220

Pleasure Gardens, 282-288

Poets of South London, 224, 225

Population, Increase in, 316, 317

Priory of St. Mary Overies, 192

Prisons of the Liberties, 49

Processions in Southwark, 124

Punishments ordered by the Church, 68

Puritan Effect on Theatres, 221, 222


Ravensbourne, 2, 3

Red Cross Gardens, 315

-- House Tavern, 304

Remains of Eltham Palace, 94

Richard II. at Kennington Palace, 81, 82

River, First Embankment of, 11, 12

-- Wall removed, 28

Roger of Wendover's Chronicle, 21

Roman Connection with Causeway, 6

-- Method of Building Bridges, 28

-- Remains in South London, 14-16

-- -- at St. Saviour's Grammar School, 15

-- Trajectus, 10

Rotherhithe, 305

Royal Houses, 69

-- Manor, Valuation of, 72, 73

Royalty at Eltham Palace, 92

Rum, 10


Sanctuaries, Later, 241

Sanctuary at Southwark, 243

-- at New Mint, 246

Savoy Dock, 230

Settlements in South London, Origin of, 17

Show Folk of Bankside, 206

Site of London from Causeway, 7

-- of Original London, 23

Snorro, Thirlesen, 22

Society in the Borough, 261

South London, Extent of, 2

-- -- deserted, 20, 21

-- -- named Southwark by Saxons, 2

-- -- in Ruins and deserted, 31

-- -- Earliest Map of, 47

-- -- of To-day, 301

Southwark, Conditions of Existence, 12, 13

-- and London, Difference between, 22

-- Fair or Lady Fair, 179-185

-- Famous Inns, 16

-- without a Wall, 17

Stage Coaches, Start of, 258, 259

St. Mary Overies, 191

-- -- -- Dock, 10

-- -- -- Marriages at, 192, 193

-- -- -- reconstructed, 195, 196

-- -- -- connected with Marian Persecution, 199-204

-- -- -- in Recent Times, 205

St. Peter-on-the-Wall Chapel, 4

St. Saviour's Abbey, 51

St. Thomas's Hospital, 64

-- -- -- Foundation of, 66

-- -- -- Roman Remains in, 15, 16

'Stonegate,' 6

Stubbs, History by, 1

Swegen and Olaf, Alliance of, 33-37


Tabard Inn, 268

Tabard Inn, Chaucer's Company of Pilgrims, 167

Thames Fishermen, 14

Theatre of Southwark Fair, 185

Thorney, Trade of, 8

-- Island, Trade of, 4

Tournament at Eltham, 94-96

Trade of Thorney, 8

-- Route of South London, 4

Traffic through Southwark, 256, 257

Trench of Cnut, 38


Vauxhall Gardens, 294-299

-- -- Site of, 113

-- or Copt Hall, 111


Walbrook, 8

-- Origin of Name, 3

Walls repaired by Alfred, 31

Walworth, the Name, 23

Wandle, River, 2, 3

Westminster, or Isle of Bramble, 4

White Lyon Prison, 280

William the Conqueror enters London by the Bridge, 43

-- III.'s Entry into London, 131, 132

Willoughby, Sir John, 105

Wyclyf's trial, 84


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