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passed without a shudder by any Londoner of that age. There, as in a place far from the haunts of men, had been dug, twenty years before, when the great plague was raging, a pit into which the dead carts had nightly shot corpses by scores. It was popularly believed that the earth was deeply tainted with infection, and could not be disturbed without imminent risk to human life. No foundations were laid there till two generations had passed without any return of the pestilence, and till the ghastly spot had long been surrounded by buildings.“t
We should greatly err if we were to suppose that any of the streets and squares then bore the same aspect as at present. The great majority of the houses, indeed, have, since that time, been wholly, or in great part, rebuilt. If the most fashionable parts of the capital could be placed before us, such as they then were, we should be disgusted by their squalid appearance, and poisoned by their noisome atmosphere.
In Covent Garden a filthy and noisy market was held close to the dwellings of the great. Fruit women screamed, carters fought, cabbage stalks and rotten apples accumulated in heaps at the thresholds of the Countess of Berkshire and of the Bishop of Durham/r
The centre of Lincoln’s Inn Fields was an open space where the rabble congregated every evening,
' The pest field will be seen in maps of London as late as
and engraved for Smith’s History of Westminster. See also Hi»
the end of George the Firfll'l reign.
f See a very curious plan of Covent Garden made about 1690,
garth’s Morning, painted while some of the houses in the Piazza. were still occupied by people or' fashion.
within a few yards of Cardigan House and Winchester House, to hear mountebanks harangue, to see bears ‘ dance, and to set dogs at oxen. Rubbish was shot in every part of the area. Horses were exercised there. The beggars were as noisy and importunate as in the worst governed cities of the Continent. A Lincoln’s Inn mumper was a proverb. The whole fraternity knew the arms and liveries of every charitably disposed grandee in the neighbourhood, and, as soon as his lordship’s coach and six appeared, came hopping and crawling in crowds to persecute him. These disorders lasted, in spite of many accidents, and of some legal proceedings, till, in the reign of George the Second, Sir Joseph Jekyll, Master of the Rolls, was knocked down and nearly killed in the middle of the square. Then at length palisades were set up, and a pleasant garden laid out.*
Saint J ames’s Square was a receptacle for all the offal and cinders, for all the dead cats and dead dogs of Westminster. At one time a cudgel player kept the ring there. At another time an impudent squatter settled himself there, and built a shed for rubbish under the Windows of the gilded saloons in which the first magnates of the realm, Norfolk, Ormond, Kent, and Pembroke, gave banquets and balls. It was not till these nuisances had lasted through a whole generation, and till much had been written about them, that the inhabitants applied to
" London Spy; Tom Brown’s
claration set forth that the de-
Parliament for permission to put up ra plant trees.‘'
When such was the state of the region by the most luxurious portion of societ‘ easily believe that the great body of the suffered what would now be considered as able grievances. The pavement was dete foreigners cried shame upon it. The dr. so bad that in rainy weather the gutters s< torrents. Several facetious poets have rated the fury with which these black rivr down Snow Hill and Ludgate Hill, bearii Ditch a vast tribute of animal and veg from the stalls of butchers and greengro flood was profusely thrown to right and left and carts. To keep as far from the carri: possible was therefore the wish of every The mild and timid gave the wall. The bc letic took it. If two roisterers met, they ( hats in each other’s faces, and pushed each till the weaker was shoved towards the ken was a mere bully he sneaked off, mutter? should find a time. If he was pugnacio counter probably ended in a duel behind Housei
The houses were not numbered. Ther deed have been little advantage in numbe for of the coachmen, chairmen, porters, boys of London, a very small proportion It was necessary to use marks which the rant could understand. The shops were therefore distinguished by painted or sculptured signs, which gave a gay and grotesque aspect to the streets. The walk from Charing Cross to Whitechapel lay through an endless succession of Saracens’ Heads, Royal Oaks, Blue Bears, and Golden Lambs, which disappeared when they were no longer required for the direction of the common people.
* Stat. 12 Geo. I. c. 25.; Com- 1' Lettres sur mons’ Journals, Feb. 25. March written early in th 2. 1725; London Gardener, 1712; liam the Third ; Evening Post, March 23. 1731. Shower; Gay’s Tr I have not been able to find this used to relate a c number of the Evening Post; I satiou which he therefore quote it on the faith of mother about givi Mr. Malcolm, who mentions it in the walL his History of London.
When the evening closed in, the difficulty and danger of walking about London became serious indeed. The garret windows were opened, and pails were emptied, with little regard to those who were passing below. Falls, bruises, and broken bones were of constant occurrence. For, till the last year of the reign of Charles the Second, most of the streets were left in profound darkness. Thieves and robbers plied their trade with impunity: yet they were hardly so terrible to peaceable citizens as another class of rufiians. It was a favourite amusement of dissolute young gentlemen to swagger by night about the town, breaking windows, upsetting sedans, beating quiet men, and ofi'ering rude caresses to pretty women. Several dynasties of these tyrants had, since the Restoration, domineered over the streets. The Muns and Tityre Tus had given place to the Hectors, and the Hectors had been recently succeeded by the Scourers. At a later period arose the Nicker, the Hawcubite, and the yet more dreaded name of Mohawk.‘ The machinery for keeping the Polio“, peace was utterly contemptible. There L°““°“'
' Oldham’s Imitation of the shortly afier the Restoration. I
8d Satire of J uvenal, 1682; Shadwell’s Scourers, 1690. Many other authorities will readily occur to all who are acquainted with the popular literature of that and the succeeding generation. It may be suspected that some of the Tityre Tus, like good CaVBliera, broke Milton's windows
am confident that he was thinking
of those pests of London when
he dictated the noble lines:—
“ And in luxurloul cities, when the noise
And injury and outrage. and when night
was an Act of Common Council which provided th: more than a thousand watchmen should be cor stantly on the alert in the city, from sunset to $111 rise, and that every inhabitant should take his tui of duty. But this Act was negligently execute Few of those who were summoned left their home and those few generally found it more agreeable tipple in alehouses than to pace the streets?
It ought to be noticed that, in the last year of 1 Lighting 0, reign of Charles the Second, began a gr L°“d°“' change in the police of London, a char which has perhaps added as much to the happir of the body of the people as revolutions of m'
eater fame. An ingenious projector, named ' ward Heming, obtained letters patent conveying him, for a term of years, the exclusive right of li; ing up London. He undertook, for a moderate i sideration, to place a light before every tenth c' on moonless nights, from Michaelmas to Lady '. and from six to twelve of the clock. Those who see the capital all the year round, from dus dawn, blazing with a splendour beside which
illuminations for La Hogue and Blenheim v
have looked pale, may perhaps smile to thir Heming’s lanterns, which glimmered feebly 1 one house in ten during a small part of one nig three. But such was not the feeling of his co:
oraries. His scheme was enthusiastically apple and furiously attacked. The friends of improv‘ extolled him as the greatest of all the benefachis city. ' What, they asked, were the boast f Archimedes, when compared wi
turnal shades into noon day? In spite of the uent eulogies the cause of darkness Was I undefended. There were fools in that age v
* Seymoar’s London.