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Now it runs along Lothbury, Cateaton-street, &c. From Newgate-market it assaults Christ Church, and conquers that great building, and burns through Martin's-lane towards Aldersgate-street, and all about so furiously, as it it would not leave a house, standing upon the ground.
“ Now terrible flakes of fire mount up the sky, and the yellow smoke of London ascendeth towards heaven, like the smoke of a great furnace; a smoke so great, as darkened the sun at noon-day, (if at any time the sun peeped forth, it looked red like blood :) the cloud of smoke was so great, that travellers did ride at noon-day, some miles together, in the shadow thereof, though there were no other cloud beside to be seen in the sky.
“ And if Monday night was dreadful, Tuesday night was more dreadful, when far the greatest part of the city was consumed : and amongst other things that night, the sight of Guildhall was a fearful spectacle, which stood the whole body of it together in view, for several hours together, after the fire had taken it, without flames (I suppose because the timber was such solid oak), in a bright shining coal, as if it had been a palace of gold, or a great building of burnished brass.
“On Wednesday morning, when the people expected that the suburbs would be burnt, as well as the city, and with speed were preparing their flight, as well as they could, with their luggage, into the counties and neighbouring villages, then the Lord hath pity upon poor London; his bowels began to relent; his heart is turned within him, and he stays his rough wind is the day of the east wind; his fury begins to be allayed ; he hath a remnant of people in London, and there shall a remnant of houses escape : the wind now is hushed; the commission of the fire is withdrawing, and it burns so gently, even where it meets with no opposition, that it was not hard to be quenched, in many places, with a few hands : now the citizens begin to gather a little heart and encouragement in their endeavours to quench the fire. A check it had at Leadenhall by that great building ; a stop it had in Bishopsgate-street, Fenchurch-street, Lime-street, Mark-lane, and towards the Tower: one means, under God, was the blowing up of houses with gunpowder. Now it is stayed in Lothbury, Broad-street, Coleman-street ; towards the gates it burnt, but not with any great violence; at the Temple also it is stayed, and in Holborn, where it had got no great footing; and when once the fire was got under, it was kept under, and on Thursday the flames were extinguished.”
MARIA. Thank you, papa, for reading so long, yet so interesting an account. I hope you will forgive our frequent smiles ; but the quaintness with which the fact is sometimes told, makes it appear as though the author either intended to cheer up the spirits of the inhabitants, or to laugh at their sufferings. Pray, what was the estimated amount of the loss?
WILLIAM. It is stated that the ruins of the city were 396 acres : of the six and twenty wards it utterly destroyed fifteen, and left eight others shattered and half burnt : it consumed 400 streets, 13,200 dwellinghouses, and 89 churches, besides chapels; four of the city gates, and an immense number of stately edifices, altogether estimated at ten millions sterling.
Mrs. CONSTANCE. I think it is hardly possible to form a just conception of the sublime and terrific grandeur of the conflagration, nor of the dreadful and distressing consequences which resulted to the inhabitants ; but amid all the confusion and loss of property, it must have been a source of consolation, that not more than six persons lost their lives. And, although the immediate consequences must have been severely felt, its remote effects have proved an incalculable blessing to subsequent generations. To this conflagration may be attributed the complete extirpation of the plague, which, only the year before, swept off upwards of sixty-eight thousand persons, an event that was also formerly noted in the calendar. To this tre-' mendous fire, the present inhabitants owe most of their public structures, the regularity and beauty of their streets, and the great salubrity and extreme cleanliness of a large part of the city of London; which before consisted of narrow streets, closely confined passages, and a great number of wooden houses. It was neither so well watered, nor so excellently supplied with the means of preventing the extension of fire, as at present. Indeed, in all human probability, the good city of London will not again be visited with so dreadful a calamity.
CHARLES. But we have not been told why this sad event is recorded in the calendar. Are there any church services in commemoration of it?
WILLIAM. There were anniversary prayers ; but they are not now used. Why it was first introduced into the calendar I am not able to inform you ; though probably for the same reason that the monument on Fish-street Hill, is stated to have been built" as a perpetual remembrance of the most dreadful burning of this Protestant city, begun and carried on by the treachery and malice of the Popish faction, in order to their carrying on their horrid plot, for extirpating the Protestant religion, and old English liberty, and introducing Popery and slavery.”
Mr. CONSTANCE. That is the substance of one of the Latin inscriptions on the Monument; but whether the fire was the effect of design or accident, is a question that has been productive of much controversy. Many circumstances, I believe, are on record, strengthening the belief that the destruction of the city was preconcerted by the Papists; and it is not probable that an inscription to that effect would have been placed on a memorial column, without good grounds for the supposition. But we are
giving more than a fair portion of time to the consideration of this day; you will therefore proceed, William, and inform us of St. Enurchus, whose name is mentioned on the 7th of this month. Who was he?
William. He was a French bishop, about the year 375, and gained his election to the see of Orleans, by the miraculous circumstance of a dove alighting upon his head, while present at the council of Valentia.
Maria. How did the dove further the cause of his election ?
WILLIAM. Because his electors were impressed with the superstitious notion, that it was through God's direct interference, who had vouchsafed to shed the power of the Holy Ghost upon Enurchus. His history is extremely scanty of facts, and the good priests of his time have, therefore, not failed to render his name important, by the enumeration of a great variety of supposititious miracles. Besides converting seven thousand infidels in the space of three days, and finding a pot of gold underground, sufficient to build a church, he is stated, upon one occasion, to have instantaneously extinguished a fire, that would otherwise have consumed the city.
MARIA. What a pity that he had not lived in the year 1666 ; his services would have been prized in the city of London.
Mr. ConstanCE. I very much doubt that, Angelina. The good citizens of 1666 would rather, I think, have seen a few of our improved engines. However, the saint ought not to suffer for the folly of his adherents; and his steady, successful, and submissive services to the see of Rome, have, it appears, ensured him the name of a useful labourer in the cause of Christianity. Is it stated how or when he died ?
WILLIAM. No, Sir, it is not; and as I have nothing more to communicate respecting him, I beg leave to intro
duce the next day to your notice, called Nativity of the Virgin Mary, and marked for the 8th of this month.
Mr. Constance. If that I remember rightly, it is founded upon the circumstance of some person hearing, or fancying he heard, a concert of angels singing in the heavens, and, by praying to God for an explanation of so mysterious a fact, he learnt that they were holding a festival in honour of the nativity of the Virgin Mary.
WILLIAM. It is so, Sir; and the Roman Catholics, conceiving it right to pay great homage to the mother of our Lord, have held a festival since the year 695, for the express purpose of joining the angels in this great solemnity. An octave was also instituted in 1244, by Pope Innocent IV. and a vigil appointed for the day by Pope. Gregory, in the year 1370. But it is not noticed by our church; and the miracles said to have been performed by the Virgin's influence, serve only to show into what absurdity, ignorance and credulity will lead mankind.
Mr. ConstanCE. I believe the next festival, called Holy Cross, is also quite obsolete in our church, although still observed by Catholics. Do you know the origin of it, William ?
WILLIAM. Yes, Sir ; it has some reference to a circumstance already noticed by us--the “ Invention of the Cross ;" Helena having discovered the identical cross upon which our Saviour had suffered, left it on the spot in memory of his crucifixion ; but when Cosroe, king of Persia, plundered Jerusalem, he is said to have carried away large pieces of it. Heraclius, the emperor, however, soon after engaged and defeated him, when, having recovered the cross, he returned in triumph, to the gates of Jerusalem, intending to enter that city in the most stately manner. Charles. And did he do so ? WILLIAM. He entered the city, but in a way very
recovered the intending