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"I confess that I never think of London, which I love, without thinking of that palace which David built for Bathsheba, sitting in hearing of one hundred streams,-streams of thought, of intelligence, of activity. One other thing about London impresses me beyond any other sound I have ever heard, and that is the low, unceasing roar one hears always in the air; it is not a mere accident, like a tempest or a cataract, but it is impressive, because it always indicates human will, and impulse, and conscious movement; and I confess that when I hear it I almost feel as if I were listening to the roaring loom of time."-Lowell.
THE history of London is—as was that of Rome in ancient times--the history of the whole civilised world. For, the comparatively small area of earth on which our city is built has, for the last thousand years at least, been all-important in the story. of nations. Its chronicles are already so vast that no ordinary library could hope to contain all of them. And what will the history of London be to the student, say, of the year 3000 A.D., when our present-day politics, our feelings, our views, have been "rolled round," once more, in "earth's diurnal force," and assume, at last, their fair and true proportions?
In "this northern island, sundered once from all the human
THE BEGINNINGS OF LONDON
race," has for centuries been lit one of the torches that have illumined humanity. Not even Imperial Rome shone with such a lustre; not even the Cæsars in all their purple ruled over such a mighty, such an all-embracing empire.
The history of this mighty empire is bound up with the history of London. For, the history of London is that of England; it was the river, our "Father Thames"-her first and most important highway, a "highway of the nations,”—that brought her from the beginning all her fame and all her glory. Partly by geographical position, partly by ever-increasing political freedom, and partly, no doubt, by the efforts of a dominant race, that glory has, through the centuries, been maintained and aggrandised.
And why, some may ask, is London what it is? Why was this spot specially chosen as the capital? Surrounded by marshes in early Roman times, periodically inundated by its tidal river, densely wooded beyond its marshes, it can hardly have seemed, in the beginning, an ideal site. Why was not Winchester-so important in Roman times, and, later, the capital of Wessex-preferred? Why were not Southampton or Bristol-apparently equally well placed for trade-favoured? We cannot tell. The site may have been chosen by Roman London because it was the most convenient point for passing, and guarding, the ferry or bridge over the Thames, and for keeping up the direct communication between the more northerly cities of Britain, and Rome. Or, the nearer proximity to the large Continent, the better conditions for trade offered by the wide estuary of the Thames, possibly account for London's supremacy.
The early Roman city on this time honoured site, the poetically named "Augusta,”—that replaced the primitive British village-flourished greatly in the early days of the Christian era, and was large and populous; though the Romans did not. consider it their capital, and never-we know not why-created it a "municipium," like Eboracum (York), or Verulamium. It