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and filled with relics ; as well as rich censers, cruets and chalices, and basins of gold and silver.
At one period beggars asked alms in the church; fashionable people made it a lounging place, and porters, with their packs, used it as a common thoroughfare.
Little respect was paid to the costly structure of St. Paul's during the civil wars that broke out; for then the work of desolation spread wide within its walls; the pavement of marble was torn up, the stalls were pulled down, while saw pits were dug in some parts, and horses stabled in others of the sacred edifice.
The old church of St. Paul's had one of the highest spires in the world, it being, with the tower, a height of 534 feet; but this spire was burned early in the reign of queen Elizabeth, by the carelessness of a plumber; the roof also was injured so as to cost many thousand pounds to repair ; but the chapel spire never rose again. The high altar stood between two columns, and was adorned profusely with jewellery, as well as surrounded with images, beautifully wrought, and covered with a canopy of wood, representing saints and angels. In the centre of the church stood a large cross; against a pillar was a beautiful image of the Virgin Mary, before which an anthem was sung every day, and a lamp kept continually burning ; while in the tower was a fine dial, with an angel pointing to the hour.
But the costliness of the structure was no defence against the all-devouring element that was to consume it
. The great fire of 1666 wrapped it in flames. This fire was one of the most tremendous scourges that ever visited London. It seemed as if the Holy One was pouring out, on the devoted city, the vials of his wrath. “ It was in the depth and dead of the night, when most doors and fences were locked up in the city, that the fire doth break forth and appear abroad, and like a mighty giant refreshed with wine, doth awake and arm itself, and quickly gathers strength.
“ That night most of the Londoners had taken their last sleep in their houses; they little thought it would be so when they went into their beds; they did not in the least suspect, when the doors of their ears were unlocked, and the casements of their eyes were opened in the morning, to hear of such an enemy invading the city, and that they should see him, with such fury, enter the doors of their houses, break into every room, and look out at their casements, with such a threatening countenance.
" That which made the ruin the more dismal, was, that it was begun on the Lord's day morning. Never was there the like sabbath in London. Some churches were in flames that day; and God seemed to come down, and to preach himself in them, as he did in. Mount Sinai, when the mount burned with fire; such warm preaching those churches never had, such lightning dreadful sermons never were before delivered in London. In other churches ministers were preaching their farewell sermons, and people were hearing with quaking and astonishment. Instead of a holy rest which Christians have taken on this day, there is a tumultuous hurrying upon the spirits of those that sat still, and had only the notice of the ear of the quick and strange spreading of the fire.
“ Now fearfulness and terror doth surprise the citizens of London ; confusion and astonishment doth fall
upon them at this unheard-of, unthought-of judgment, It would have grieved the heart of an unconcerned
person to see the rueful looks, the pale cheeks, the tears trickling down from the eyes, (where the greatness of sorrow and amazement could give leave for such a vent,) the smiting of the breast, the wringing of the hands; to hear the sighs and groans, the doleful and weeping speeches of the distressed citizens, when they were bringing forth their wives, some from their childbed, and their little ones, some from their sick bed, out of their houses, and sending them into the country, or somewhere into the fields, with their goods."
St. Paul's Cathedral, as it stood before the great fire, was altogether ruined; the foundations of the present building were laid in 1675, and the whole magnificent structure was completed under the direction of sir Christopher Wren, in thirty-five years, at an expense of a million and a half of money.
The black and white Corinthian marble columns of the choir, the episcopal throne, the bishop's seat, the seat of the lord mayor, and the dean's stall, well worthy of regard; but other objects are now before me.
I have ascended the circular wooden staircase, and paid a visit to the library, the model room, the geometrical staircase, and the big bell; and now I am seated in the whispering gallery. The rattling thunder of the closing door has rolled around me, and at this moment, the whispers of the man at the entrance are announcing to me the altitude and dimensions of the cathedral. The stone bench on which I sit is
cold. What an awful depth it is to the floor of the building, where the diminutive living figures are pacing the black and
white marble stones! There! I have given one glance at the faded paintings above. Now then for the giddy height of the golden gallery.
LONDON, FROM THE CUPOLA OF
With a companion, I have ascended the stone staircase; we have groped our way, almost in the dark, up the wooden steps and platforms, within the dome, and at last, have emerged to light. We are now at the top of the cupola, with the ball and cross above us; and London is spread, like a carpet, beneath our feet. Rather a bold undertaking for an old man; but I have taken my time, and feel but little fatigued—what a blessing is a healthy frame and a hearty constitution !
There are some half-dozen persons in the gallery. Among them, are two Spaniards, with pale faces and dark mustachios, one of whom speaks a little English; and a little gentlemanly Frenchman of low stature, who, whether he can speak English or not, will not. The Spaniards are reserved, the Frenchman very communicative. The latter tells me that Paris, when seen from the Pantheon, or from Notre Dame, is larger than London; for that three parts of London are hid by the fog
On a fine day the view from this place must be truly grand, every part of the metropolis and the surrounding neighbourhood being so fully commanded. At the moment, it seems a complete chaos of brick, tile, slate, towers, spires, chimney-pots, and smoke, with a fog in the distance that sadly circumscribes the view: by and by, when I begin to trace the streets, no doubt something like order will appear.
What a fearful height we are elevated from the earth! the Monument and the churches are but pigmies to this giant of a cathedral. The Lilliputian world below shrinks into insignificance; and not a voice reaches us from the distant multitude. While I look down upon the churchyard, the thought of falling there is horrible !
I have, aforetime, been within the ball above my head, and am not now sufficiently high-minded to renew my visit. The strong, heavy, iron-railing, placed here for security, is painted yellow, and a thousand names are etched or scratched thereupon, in celebration of the visit of those who from this place have gazed on London city. The bulging out of the huge cupola below my feet, impresses the mind with a sense of extent and ponderosity. It makes one reflect on the necessity of a firm foundation for such a colossal pile.
The statue of St. Paul there, on the west end of the cathedral, with its back towards us, has but a sorry appearance; and the same remark may be made of the other figures, for, seen from this point of view, they are nothing but shapeless blocks of stone, supported by unsightly iron bars, though their fronts are very beautiful. To put the best on the outside is a rule that is observed in many things beside sculpture and architecture.
Though the height of St. Paul's so much exceeds that of the Monument, the perpendicular view from the latter is, by far the more fearful of the two. The cupola and the church of St. Paul's prevent the
from en countering here that dreadful depth which the gazes