« AnteriorContinuar »
Amongst the noble and celebrated cities of the world, that of London, the capital of the kingdom of England, is one of the most renowned, possessing above all others abundant wealth, extensive commerce, great grandeur and magnificence. It is happy in the salubrity of its climate, in the profession of the Christian religion, in the strength of its fortresses, the nature of its situation, the honour of its citizens, and the chastity of its matrons; in its sports too it is most pleasant, and in the production of illustrious men most fortunate. All which things I wish separately to consider, Of the Mildness of the Climate.-There then
• Men's minds are soft'ned by a temp’rate clime ;” not so, however, that they are addicted to licentiousness, but so that they are not savage and brutal, but rather kind and generous.
Of the Religion. There is in St. Paul's Church an episcopal see: it was formerly metropolitan, and, it is thought, will be so again, should the citizens return to the island ; unless perhaps the archiepiscopal title of St. Thomas, and his bodily presence there, should always retain that dignity at Canterbury, where it now is. But as St. Thomas has ennobled both these cities, London by his birth, and Canterbury by his death, each of them, with respect to the saint, bas much to allege against the other, and with justice too. As regards divine worship, there are also in London and in the suburbs thirteen larger conventual churches, besides one hundred and thirty-six lesser parochial ones.
Of the Strength of the City.--On the east stands the Palatine Tower, a fortress of great size and strength, the court and walls of which are erected upon a very deep foundation, the mortar used in the building being tempered with the blood of beasts. On the west are two castles strongly fortified; the wall of the city is high and thick, with seven double gates, having on the worth side towers placed at proper intervals. London formerly had walls and towers in like manner on the south; but that most excellent river, the Thames, which abounds with fish, and in which the tide ebbs and flows, runs on that side, and has in a long space of time washed down, undermined, and subverted the walls in that part. On the west also, higher up on the bank of the river, the royal palace rears its head, an incomparable structure, furnished with a breastwork and bastions, situated in a populous suburb, at a distance of two miles from the city,
Of the Gardens.-Adjoining to the houses on all sides lie the gardens of those citizens that dwell in the suburbs, which are well furnished with trees, spacious and beautiful.
Of the Pasture and Tillage-lands.—On the north side, too, are fields for pasture, and a delightful plain of meadow land, interspersed with flowing streams, on which stand mills, whose clack is very pleasing to the ear. Close by lies an immense forest, in which are densely wooded thickets, the coverts of game, stags, fallow deer, boars, and wild bulls. The tillage lands of the city are not barren gravelly soils, but like the fertile plains of Asia, which produce abundant crops, and fill the barns of their cultivators with
“ Ceres' plenteous sheaf.” Of the Springs.—There are also round London, on the northern side, in the suburbs, excellent springs; the water of which is sweet, clear, and salubrious
“ 'Mid glistening pebbles gliding playfully :”. amongst which, Holywell, Clerkenwell, and St. Clement's Well, are of most note, and most frequently visited, as well by the scholars from the schools, as by the youth of the city when they go out to take the air in the summer evenings. The city is delightful indeed, when it has a good governor.
Of the Honour of the Citizens. This city is ennobled by her men, graced by her arms, and peopled by a multitude of inhabitants, so that, in the wars under King Stephen, there went out to a muster, of armed horsemen esteemed fit for war, twenty thousand, and of infantry sixty thousand. The citizens of London are respected and noted above all other citizens for the elegance of their manners, dress, table, and dis
Of the Matrons. The matrons of the city are perfect Sabines.
Of the Schools.—The three principal churches possess, by privilege and ancient dignity, celebrated schools; yet often, by the favour of some person of note or of some learned men eminently distinguished for their philosophy, other schools are permitted upon sufferance. . On festival days the masters assemble their pupils at those churches where the feast of the patron saint is solemnized; and there the scholars dispute, some in the demonstrative way, and others logically; some again recite enthymemes, while others use the more perfect syllogism. Some, to show their abilities, engage in such disputation as is practised among persons contending for victory alone; others dispute upon a truth, which is the grace of perfection. The sophisters, who argue upon feigned topics, are deemed clever according to their fluency of speech and command of language. Others endeavour to impose by false conclusions. Sometimes certain orators in their rhetorical harangues employ all the powers of persuasion, taking care to observe the precepts of the art, and to omit nothing opposite to the subject. The boys of the different schools wrangle with each other in verse, and contend about the principles of grammar, or the rules of the perfect and future tenses. There are some who in epigrams, rhymes, and verses, use that trivial raillery so much practised amongst the ancients, freely attacking their companions with Fescennine licence, but suppressing the names, discharging their scoffs and sarcasms against them, touching with Socratic wit the failings of their schoolfellows, or perhaps of greater personages, biting them more keenly with a Theoneric tooth. The audience,
“ well disposed to laugh,
With curling nose double the quivering peals.” Of the Manner in which the Affairs of the City are disposed. --The artizans of the several crafts, the vendors of the various commodities, and the labourers of every kind, have each their separate station, which they take every morning. There is also in London, on the bank of the river, amongst the wine shops which are kept in ships and cellars, a public eating-house; there every day, according to the season, may be found viands of all kinds, roast, fried, and boiled, fish large and small, coarser meat for the poor, and more delicate for the rich, such as venison, fowls, and small birds. If friends, wearied with their journey, should unexpectedly come to a citizen's house, and, being hungry, should not like to wait till fresh meat be bought and cooked :
“ The canisters with bread are heap'd on high ;
The attendants water for their hands supply:"—DRYDEN'S Virgil. meanwhile some run to the river side, and there every thing that they could wish for is instantly procured. However great the number of soldiers or strangers that enters or leaves the city at any hour of the day or night, they may turn in there if they please, and refresh themselves according to their inclination ; so that the former have no occa
sion to fast too long, or the latter to leave the city without dining. Those who wish to indulge themselves would not desire a sturgeon, or the bird of Africa, or the godwit of Tonia, when the delicacies that are to be found there are set before them. This indeed is the public cookery, and is very convenient to the city, and a distinguishing mark of civilization. Hence we read in Plato's Gorgias, “Juxta medicinam esse coquorum officium, simulantium et adulationem quartæ particulæ civilitatis.” There is, without one of the gates, immediately in the suburb, a certain smooth field in name and in reality. Friday, unless it be one of the more solemn festivals, is a noted show of well-bred horses exposed for sale. The earls, barons, and knights, who are at the time resident in the city, as well as most of the citizens, flock thither either to look on or buy. It is pleasant to see the nags, with their sleek and shining coats, smoothly ambling along, raising and setting down alternately, as it were, their feet on either side: in one part are horses better adapted to esquires; these, whose pace is rougher but yet expeditious, lift up and set down, as it were, the two opposite fore and hind feet together: in another the young blood colts, not yet accustomed to the bridle,
" Which upright walk on pasterns firm and straight,
Their motions easy, prancing in their gait.”-DRYDEN's Virgil.
In a third are the horses for burden, strong and stout-limbed ; and in a fourth the more valuable chargers, of an elegant shape and noble height, with nimbly moving ears, erect necks, and plump haunches. In the movements of these the purchasers observe first their easy pace, and then their gallop, which is when the fore feet are raised from the ground and set down together, and the hind ones in like manner, alternately. When a race is to be run by such horses as these, and perhaps by others, which in like manner, according to their breed, are strong for carriage and vigorous for the course, the people raise a shout, and order the common horses to be withdrawn to another part of the field. The jockeys, who are boys expert in the management of horses, which they regulate by means of curb-bridles, sometimes by threes, and sometimes by twos, according as the match is made, prepare themselves for the contest. Their chief aim is to prevent a competitor getting before them. The horses, too, after their manner, are eager for the race; their limbs tremble, and, impatient of delay, they cannot stand still; upon the signal being given, they stretch out their limbs, hurry over the course, and are borne along with unremitting speed. The riders, inspired with the love of praise and the hope of victory, clap spurs to their flying horses, lashing them with their whips, and inciting them by their shouts. You would think with Heraclitus, that all things were in motion, and that Zeno's opinion was altogether erroneous, when he said that there was no such thing as motion, and that it was impossible to reach the goal. In another quarter, apart from the rest, stand the goods of the peasants, implements of husbandry, swine with their long sides, cows with distended udders
“ Oxen of bulk immense, and woolly flocks." There, too, stand the mares fitted for the plough, the dray, and the cart, of which some are big with foal, others have their frolicsome colts running close by their sides. To this city, from every nation under heaven, merchants bring their commodities by sea:
“ Arabia's gold, Sabæa's spice and incense,
Scythia's keen weapons, and the oil of palms
According to the evidence of chroniclers, London is more ancient than Rome: for, as both derive their origin from the same Trojan ancestors, this was founded by Brutus before that by Romulus and Remus. Hence it is that, even to this day, both cities use the same ancient laws and ordinances. This, like Rome, is divided into wards; it has annual sheriffs instead of consuls; it has an order of senators, and inferior magistrates, and also sewers and aqueducts in its streets ; each class of suits, whether of the deliberative, demonstrative, or judicial kind, has its appropriate place and proper court; on stated days it has its assemblies. I think that there is no city in which more approved customs are observed—in attending churches, honouring God's ordinances, keeping festivals, giving alms, receiving strangers, confirming espousals, contracting marriages, celebrating weddings, preparing entertainments, welcoming guests, and also in the arrangement of the funeral ceremonies and the burial of the dead. The only inconveniences of London are, the immoderate drinking of foolish persons,