A tour through the whole island of Great Britain, by Daniel Defoe

Letter V

Containing a Description of the City of London, as Taking in the City of Westminster, Borough of Southwark, and the Buildings Circumjacent

Overview and Suburbs

SIR — As I am now near the center of this work, so I am to describe the great center of England, the city of LondonLondon, and parts adjacent. This great work is infinitely difficult in its particulars, though not in itself; not that the city is so difficult to be described, but to do it in the narrow compass of a letter, which we see so fully takes up two large volumes in folio, and which, yet, if I may venture to give an opinion of it, is done but by halves neither.

However, be the task difficult, as it is, yet it must be done; to be concise and short, is absolutely necessary; to be plain and significant, as necessary; I shall observe both, as near as I can.

London, as a city only, and as its walls and liberties line it out, might, indeed, be viewed in a small compass; but, when I speak of London, now in the modern acceptation, you expect I shall take in all that vast mass of buildings, reaching from Black-Wall in the east, to Tot-Hill Fields in the west; and extended in an unequal breadth, from the bridge, or river, in the south, to Islington north; and from Peterburgh House on the bank side in Westminster, to Cavendish Square, and all the new buildings by, and beyond, Hannover Square, by which the city of London, for so it is still to be called, is extended to Hide Park Corner in the Brentford Road, and almost to Maribone in the Acton Road, and how much farther it may spread, who knows? New squares, and new streets rising up every day to such a prodigy of buildings, that nothing in the world does, or ever did, equal it, except old Rome in Trajan’s time, when the walls were fifty miles in compass, and the number of inhabitants six million eight hundred thousand souls.

It is the disaster of London, as to the beauty of its figure, that it is thus stretched out in buildings, just at the pleasure of every builder, or undertaker of buildings, and as the convenience of the people directs, whether for trade, or otherwise; and this has spread the face of it in a most straggling, confus’d manner, out of all shape, uncompact, and unequal; neither long or broad, round or square; whereas the city of Rome, though a monster for its greatness, yet was, in a manner, round, with very few irregularities in its shape.

At London, including the buildings on both sides the water, one sees it, in some places, three miles broad, as from St. George’s in Southwark, to Shoreditch in Middlesex; or two miles, as from Peterburgh House to Montague House; and in some places, not half a mile, as in Wapping; and much less, as in Redrirf.

We see several villages, formerly standing, as it were, in the country, and at a great distance, now joyn’d to the streets by continued buildings, and more making haste to meet in the like manner; for example, 1. Deptford, This town was formerly reckoned, at least two miles off from Redriff, and that over the marshes too, a place unlikely ever to be inhabited; and yet now, by the encrease of buildings in that town itself, and the many streets erected at Redriff, and by the docks and building-yards on the river side, which stand between both, the town of Deptford, and the streets of Redriff, or Rotherhith (as they write it) are effectually joyn’d, and the buildings daily increasing; so that Deptford is no more a separated town, but is become a part of the great mass, and infinitely full of people also; Here they have, within the last two or three years, built a fine new church, and were the town of Deptford now separated, and rated by itself, I believe it contains more people, and stands upon more ground, than the city of Wells.

The town of Islington, on the north side of the city, is in like manner joyn’d to the streets of London, excepting one small field, and which is in itself so small, that there is no doubt, but in a very few years, they will be intirely joyn’d, and the same may be said of Mile-End, on the east end of the town.

Newington, called Newington-Butts, in Surrey, reaches out her hand north, and is so near joining to Southwark, that it cannot now be properly called a town by itself, but a suburb to the burrough, and if, as they now tell is us undertaken, St. George’s Fields should be built into squares and streets, a very little time will shew us Newington, Lambeth, and the Burrough, all making but one Southwark.

That Westminster is in a fair way to shake hands with Chelsea, as St. Gyles’s is with Marybone; and Great Russel Street by Montague House, with Tottenham-Court: all this is very evident, and yet all these put together, are still to be called London: Whither will this monstrous city then extend? and where must a circumvallation or communication line of it be placed?

I have, as near as I could, caused a measure to be taken of this mighty, I cannot say uniform, body; and for the satisfaction of the curious, I have here given as accurate a description of it, as I can do in so narrow a compass, as this of a letter, or as I could do without drawing a plan, or map of the places.

As I am forced, in many places, to take in some unbuilt ground, so I have, on the other hand, been obliged to leave a great many whole streets of buildings out of my line: So that I have really not stretched my calculations, to make it seem bigger than it is; nor is there any occasion of it.

A LINE OF MEASUREMENT, DRAWN ABOUT ALL THE CONTINUED BUILDINGS OF THE CITY OF LONDON, AND PARTS ADJACENT, INCLUDING WESTMINSTER AND SOUTHWARK, ETC.

The Line begins, for the Middlesex Side of the Buildings,

Miles Fur. Rods
1. At Peterborough House, the farthest house west upon the River Thames, and runs N.W. by W. by the marshes to Tutthill Fields, and passing by the Neat Houses, and Arnold’s Brewhouse, ends at Chelsea Road, measured - 1 6 16
2. Then, allowing an interval from Buckingham House cross the park, about one furlong and half to the corner of my Lord Godolphin’s garden wall, the line goes north behind the stable-yard buildings, and behind Park-Place, and on the park wall behind the buildings; on the west side of St. James’s Street, to the corner in Soho, or Pickadilly, then crossing the road, and goes along the north side of the road west to Hide Park Gate - 1 2 11
3. Then the line turns N.E. by E. and taking in the buildings and streets, called May-Fair, and holds on east till the new streets formed out of Hide House Garden, cause it to turn away north, a point west reaching to Tyburn-Road, a little to the east of the great mother conduit; then it goes north, and crossing the road, takes in the west side of Cavendish Square, and the streets adjoining, and leaving Marybone, goes away east, ‘till it reaches to Hampstead-Road, near a little village called Tottenham Court - 2 5 20
4. From Tottenham Court, the line comes in a little south, to meet the Bloomsbury, buildings then turning east, runs behind Montague and Southampton Houses, to the N.E. corner of Southampton House, then crossing the path, meets the buildings called Queen’s Square, then turning north, ‘till it comes to the N.W. corner of the square, thence it goes away east behind the buildings on the north side of Ormond Street, ‘till it comes to Lamb’s Conduit - 1 1 13
5. Here the line turns south, and indents to the corner of Bedford Row, and leaving some few houses, with the cock-pit, and bowling green, goes on the back of Gray’s Inn Wall, to Gray’s Inn Lane, then turns on the outside of the buildings, which are on the west side of Gray’s Inn Lane, going north to the stones end, when turning east, it passes to the new river bridge without Liquor-pond Street, so taking in the Cold Bath and the Bear Garden; but leaving out Sir John Old-Castle’s and the Spaw, goes on east by the Ducking-Pond to the end of New Bridewell, and crossing the Fairfield, comes into the Islington Road by the Distiller’s House, formerly Justice Fuller’s, - 1 2 6
6. Here to take in all the buildings which joyn Islington to the streets, the line goes north on the east side of the road to the Turk’s Head ale-house; then turning north west, passes to the New River House, but leaving it to the west, passes by Sadler’s Well, from thence to Bussby’s House, and keeping on the west side of Islington, ‘till it comes opposite to Cambray House-Lane, turns into the road, and passes south almost to the lane which turns east down to the lower street, but then turns east without the houses, and goes to the Cow-keeper’s in the lower street crossing the road, and through the Cow-keeper’s Yard into Frog-lane, then running west on the south side of the town, just without the buildings, joyns again to the buildings on the west side of Wood’s -Close, passing behind the Sheep-market wall - 2 4 39
7. From Wood’s -Close, the line goes due east to Mount Mill, where, leaving several buildings to the north, it passes on, crossing all the roads to Brick-lane, to the north side of the great new square in Old-street, and taking in the Pest-house wall, turns south at the north-east corner of the said wall, to Old-street Road; then going away east till it meets the buildings near Hoxton Square, it turns north to the north west corner of the wall of Ask’s Hospital, then sloping north east, it passes by Pimlico, the Cyder House, and the two walls to the north end of Hoxton, when it turns east, and inclosing the garden walls, comes into the Ware road, just at the King’s Head in the new buildings by the Land of Promise - 2 0 16
8. From the King’s Head, the line turns south, running to the stones end in Shoreditch, then turning east, it takes in a burying ground and some buildings in the Hackney road, when sloping south east by south, it goes away by the Virginia House to a great brewhouse, and then still more east to the back of Wheeler-street, and then east by south, to Brick-lane, crossing which, it goes away east towards Bethnal Green; but then turning short south, it goes towards White Chapel Mount, but being intercepted by new streets, it goes quite up to the south end of the Dog-Row at Mile End - 1 6 19
9. From the Dog-Row, the line crosses the road, and takes in a little hamlet of houses, called Stepney, tho’ not properly so, and coming back west to the streets end at White Chapel Moll, goes away south by the Hog-houses into Church Lane, and to Rag Fair, when turning again east, it continues in a strait line on the north side of Ratcliff High-way, ‘till it comes almost to the farther Glass-houses, then turning north, it surrounds all Stepney and Stepney causeway to Mile End Road, then turning east again, and afterwards south, comes back to the new streets on the north side of Lime-house, and joyning the marsh, comes down to the water side at the lower shipwright dock in Lime-house Hole - 3 7 1
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18 4 21
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N.B. This line leaves out all the north side of Mile End town, from the end of the Dog-Row, to the Jews Burying Ground, which is all built; also all the north part of the Dog-Row, and all Bethnal Green: Also all Poplar and Black-Wall, which are, indeed, contiguous, a trifle of ground excepted, and very populous.

For the Southwark Side of the Buildings, the Line is as follows;

Having ended the circumference of the Middlesex buildings at Lime-house, and the street extending towards Poplar, the hamlets of Poplar and Blackwall, tho’ very near contiguous in buildings, being excluded, I allow an interval of two miles, from Poplar, cross the Isle of Dogs, and over the Thames, to the lower water gate at Deptford, and tho’ in measuring the circumference of all cities, the river, where any such runs through any part of the buildings, is always measured, yet; that I may not be said to stretch the extent of the buildings which I include in this account, I omit the river from Limehouse to Deptford (where, if included, it ought to begin) and begin my line as above.

Miles Fur. Rods
1. From the said upper water-gate at Deptford, the line goes east to the corner next the Thames, where the shipwright’s yard now is, and where I find a continued range of buildings begins by the side of a little creek or river, which runs into the Thames there, and reaches quite up the said river, to the bridge in the great Kentish road, and over the street there, taking in the south side of the street, to the west corner of the buildings in that street, and then measuring down on the west side of the long street, which runs to the Thames side, ‘till you come to the new street which passes from Deptford to Rederiff, then turning to the left, passing on the back side of the king’s yard to Mr. Evelin’s house, including the new church of Deptford, and all the new streets or buildings made on the fields side, which are very many, this amounts in the whole, to - 3 1 16
2. From Mr. Evelin’s garden gate, the line goes north west, taking in all the new docks and yards, the Red-house, and several large streets of houses, which have been lately built, and by which the said town of Deptford is effectually joined to the buildings, reaching from Cuckold’s Point, eastward, and which are carried out, as if Rederiff stretch’d forth its arm to embrace Deptford; then for some length, the said street of Rederiff continues narrow ‘till you come to Church-street, where several streets are also lately built south, and others parallel with the street, till gradually, the buildings thicken, and extend farther and farther to the south and south by east, ‘till they cross over the east end of Horslydown to Bermondsey Church, and thence east to the sign of the World’s End, over against the great fort, being the remains of the fortifications drawn round these parts of Southwark in the late civil wars. This extent is, by computation, four miles; but being measured, as the streets indented, the circuit prov’d - 5 6 12
3. From this fort, to the corner of Long Lane, and through Long Lane to the Lock, at the end of Kent-street, is - 1 7 2
4. From the corner of Kent-street to the town of Newington Butts, drawing the line behind all the buildings as they stand, and round the said village of Newington, to the Haberdashers Alms Houses, and thence by the road to the windmill, at the corner of Blackman-street, is - 3 2 16
5. From the windmill crossing St. George’s Fields, on the back of the Mint, to the Fighting Cocks, thence to the Restoration Gardens, and thence on the outside of all the buildings to Lambeth-Wells, and on to Faux-Hall Bridge, over against the other fort of the old fortifications, being just the same length that those old fortifications extended, tho’ infinitely fuller of buildings; this last circuit measures - 3 5 12
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17 6 18
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Thus the extent or circumference of the continued buildings of the cities of London and Westminster, and borough of Southwark, all which, in the common acceptation, is called London, amounts to thirty six miles, two furlongs, thirty nine rods.

N.B. The town of Greenwich, which may, indeed, be said to be contiguous to Deptford, might be also called a part of this measurement; but I omit it, as I have the towns of Chelsea and Knights Bridge on the other side, tho’ both may be said to joyn the town, and in a very few years will certainly do so.

Were it possible to reduce all these buildings to a compact situation, ’tis generally thought, that the whole body so put together, allowing the necessary ground, which they now employ for the several trades in the out-parts, such as the building yards by the river, for shipwrights, tanners yards, dyers, whitsters, &c. I say, ’tis believed the whole would take up twenty eight miles in circumference, very compactly built.

The guesses that are made at the number of inhabitants, have been variously form’d; Sir William Petty, famous for his political arithmetick, supposed the city, at his last calculation, to contain a million of people, and this he judges from the number of births and burials; and by this rule, as well by what is well known of the increase of the said births and burials, as of the prodigious increase of buildings, it may be very reasonable to conclude, the present number of inhabitants within the circumference I have mentioned, to amount to, at least, fifteen hundred thousand, with this addition, that it is still prodigiously increasing.

Nor is it hard to account for this increase of people, as well as buildings in London; but the discourse seems too political to belong to this work, which, rather, relates to the fact than the reason of it, and is properly to describe the thing, not to shew why it is so, for which reason I omit entring into the enquiry.

The government of this great mass of building, and of such a vast collected body of people, though it consists of various parts, is, perhaps, the most regular and well-ordered government, that any city, of above half its magnitude, can boast of.

The government of the city of London in particular, and abstractedly considered, is, by the lord mayor, twenty four aldermen, two sheriffs, the recorder and common council; but the jurisdiction of these is confined to that part only, which they call the City and its Liberties, which are marked out, except the Borough, by the walls and the bars, as they are called, and which the particular maps of the city have exactly lin’d out, to which I refer.

Besides this, the lord mayor and aldermen of London have a right presidial, as above, in the borough of Southwark, as conservators of the bridge, and the bridge itself is their particular jurisdiction.

Also the lord mayor, &c. is conservator of the River Thames, from Stanes Bridge in Surrey and Middlesex, to the River Medway in Kent, and, as some insist, up the Medway to Rochester Bridge.

The government of the out parts, is by justices of the peace, and by the sheriffs of London, who are, likewise, sheriffs of Middlesex; and the government of Westminster is, by a high bailiff, constituted by the Dean and Chapter, to whom the civil administrations is so far committed.

The remaining part of Southwark side, when the city jurisdiction is considered, is governed, also by a Bench of Justices, and their proper substituted peace officers; excepting out of this the privileges of the Marshalseas, or of the Marshal’s Court, the privilege of the Marshal of the King’s Bench, the Mint, and the like.

To enter here, into a particular description of the city of London, its antiquities, monuments, &c. would be only to make an abridgment of Stow and his continuators, and would make a volume by itself; but while I write in manner of a letter, and in the person of an itinerant, and give a cursory view of its present state, and to the reader, who is supposed to be upon the spot, or near it, and who has the benefit of all the writers, who have already entered upon the description; it will, I believe, be allowed to be agreeable and sufficient to touch at those things principally, which no other authors have yet mentioned, concerning this great and monstrous thing, called London.

N.B. By this may be plainly understood, that I mean not the city only, for then I must discourse of it in several parts, and under several denominations and descriptions, as,

  1. Of the city and liberties of London.
  2. Of the city and liberties of Westminster.
  3. Of the Tower and its hamlets.
  4. Of the suburbs or buildings annex’d to these, and called Middlesex.
  5. Of the borough of Southwark.
  6. Of the Bishop of Winchester’s reserv’d privileged part in Southwark, called the Park and Marshalsea.
  7. Of Lambeth.
  8. Of Deptford, and the king’s and merchants yards for building.
  9. Of the Bridge-house and its reserv’d limits, belonging to the city.
  10. Of the buildings on Southwark side, not belonging to any of these.

But by London, as I shall discourse of it, I mean, all the buildings, places, hamlets, and villages contain’d in the line of circumvallation, if it be proper to call it so, by which I have computed the length of its circumference as above.

We ought, with respect to this great mass of buildings, to observe, in every proper place, what it is now, and what it was within the circumference of a few years past; and particularly, when other authors wrote, who have ventured upon the description of it.

It is, in the first place, to be observed, as a particular and remarkable crisis, singular to those who write in this age, and very much to our advantage in writing, that the great and more eminent increase of buildings, in, and about the city of London, and the vast extent of ground taken in, and now become streets and noble squares of houses, by which the mass, or body of the whole, is become so infinitely great, has been generally made in our time, not only within our memory, but even within a few years, and the description of these additions, cannot be improper to a description of the whole, as follows.

A Brief Description of the New Buildings Erected in and About the Cities of London and Westminster and Borough of Southwark, Since the Year 1666

This account of new buildings is to be understood,

  1. Of houses re-built after the great fires hi London and Southwark, &c.
  2. New foundations, on ground where never any buildings were erected before.

Take, then, the city and its adjacent buildings to stand, as described by Mr. Stow, or by any other author, who wrote before the Fire of London, and the difference between what it was then, and what it is now, may be observed thus:

It is true, that before the Fire of London, the streets were narrow, and publick edifices, as well as private, were more crowded, and built closer to one another; for soon after the Fire, the king, by his proclamation, forbid all persons whatsoever, to go about to re-build for a certain time, viz. till the Parliament (which was soon to sit) might regulate and direct the manner of building, and establish rules for the adjusting every man’s property, and yet might take order for a due inlarging of the streets, and appointing the manner of building, as well for the beauty as the conveniency of the city, and for safety, in case of any future accident; for though I shall not inquire, whether the city was burnt by accident, or by treachery, yet nothing was more certain, than that as the city stood before, it was strangely exposed to the disaster which happened, and the buildings look’d as if they had been form’d to make one general bonefire, whenever any wicked party of incendiaries should think fit.

The streets were not only narrow, and the houses all built of timber, lath and plaister, or, as they were very properly call’d paper work, and one of the finest range of buildings in the Temple, are, to this day, called the Paper Buildings, from that usual expression.

But the manner of the building in those days, one story projecting out beyond another, was such, that in some narrow streets, the houses almost touch’d one another at the top, and it has been known, that men, in case of fire, have escaped on the tops of the houses, by leaping from one side of a street to another; this made it often, and almost always happen, that if a house was on fire, the opposite house was in more danger to be fired by it, according as the wind stood, than the houses next adjoining on either side.

How this has been regulated, how it was before, and how much better it now is, I leave to be judged, by comparing the old unburnt part of the city with the new.

But tho’ by the new buildings after the fire, much ground was given up, and left unbuilt, to inlarge the streets, yet ’tis to be observed, that the old houses stood severally upon more ground, were much larger upon the flat, and in many places, gardens and large yards about them, all which, in the new buildings, are, at least, contracted, and the ground generally built up into other houses, so that notwithstanding all the ground given up for beautifying the streets, yet there are many more houses built than stood before upon the same ground; so that taking the whole city together, there are more inhabitants in the same compass, than there was before. To explain this more fully, I shall give some particular instances, to which I refer, which there are living witnesses able to confirm: For example,

  1. Swithen’s Alleys by the Royal Exchange, were all, before the Fire, taken up with one single merchant’s house, and inhabited by one Mr. Swithin; whereas, upon the same ground where the house stood, stands now about twenty-two or twenty-four houses, which belong to his posterity to this day.

  2. Copt-Hall-Court in Throckmorton-street, was, before the Fire, also a single house, inhabited by a Dutch merchant; also three more courts in the same streets, were single houses, two on the same side of the way, and one on the other.

The several alleys behind St. Christopher’s Church, which are now vulgarly, but erroneously, call’d St. Christopher’s -Churchyard, were, before the Fire, one great house, or, at least, a house and ware-houses belonging to it, in which the famous Mr. Kendrick lived, whose monument now stands in St, Christopher’s Church, and whose dwelling, also, took up almost all the ground, on which now a street of houses is erected, called Prince’s -street, going through into Lothbury, no such street being known before the Fire.

Kings-Arms-Yard in Coleman-street, now built into fine large houses, and inhabited by principal merchants, was, before the fire, a stable-yard for horses and an inn, at the sign of the Kings Arms.

I might fill up my account with many such instances, but ’tis enough to explain the thing, viz. That so many great houses were converted into streets and courts, alleys and buildings, that there are, by estimation, almost 4000 houses now standing on the ground which the Fire left desolate, more than stood on the same ground before.

Another increase of buildings in the city, is to be taken from the inhabitants in the unburnt parts following the same example, of pulling down great old buildings, which took up large tracks of ground in some of the well inhabited places, and building on the same ground, not only several houses, but even whole streets of houses, which are since fully inhabited; for example;

Crosby-Square within Bishopsgate, formerly the house of Sir James Langham merchant.

Devonshire-Square and Street, with several back streets and passages into Petticoat-Lane one way, and Hounsditch another way, all built on the ground where the old Earl of Devonshire had a house and garden, and are all fully inhabited.

Bridgwater-Square, and several streets adjoyning all fully inhabited, built on the ground where the Earl of Bridgwater had a large house and garden in Barbican.

Billeter-Square, and several passages adjoyning, built upon the grounds of one great house, in which, before that, one merchant only lived.

All those palaces of the nobility, formerly making a most beautiful range of buildings fronting the Strand, with their gardens reaching to the Thames, where they had their particular water-gates and stairs, one of which remains still, viz. Somerset House, have had the same fate, such as Essex, Norfolk, Salisbury, Worcester, Exceter, Hungerford, and York Houses; in the place of which, are now so many noble streets and beautiful houses, erected, as are, in themselves, equal to a large city, and extend from the Temple to Northumberland-House; Somerset House and the Savoy, only intervening; and the latter of these may be said to be, not a house, but a little town, being parted into innumerable tenements and apartments.

Many other great houses have, by the example of these, been also built into streets, as Hatton-House in Holborn, and the old Earl of Bedford’s great garden, called New Convent Garden; but those I omit, because built before the year 1666; but I may add the Lord Brook’s house in Holborn; the Duke of Bedford’s last remaining house and garden in the Strand, and many others.

These are prodigious enlargements to the city, even upon that which I call inhabited ground, and where infinite numbers of people now live, more than lived upon the same spot of ground before.

But all this is a small matter, compared to the new foundations raised within that time, in those which we justly call the out parts; and not to enter on a particular description of the buildings, I shall only take notice of the places where such enlargements are made; as, first, within the memory of the writer hereof, all those numberless ranges of building, called Spittle Fields, reaching from Spittle-yard, at Northern Fallgate, and from Artillery Lane in Bishopsgate-street, with all the new streets, beginning at Hoxton, and the back of Shoreditch Church, north, and reaching to Brick-Lane, and to the end of Hare-street, on the way to Bethnal Green, east; then sloping away quite to White Chapel Road, south east, containing, as some people say, who pretend to know, by good observation, above three hundred and twenty acres of ground, which are all now close built, and well inhabited with an infinite number of people, I say, all these have been built new from the ground, fince the year 1666.

The lanes were deep, dirty, and unfrequented, that part now called Spittlefields-Market, was a field of grass with cows feeding on it, since the year 1670. The Old Artillery Ground (where the Parliament listed their first soldiers against the King) took up all those long streets, leading out of Artillery Lane to Spittle-yard-back-Gate, and so on to the end of Wheeler-street.

Brick-Lane, which is now a long well-pav’d street, was a deep dirty road, frequented by carts fetching bricks that way into White-Chapel from Brick-Kilns in those fields, and had its name on that account; in a word, it is computed, that about two hundred thousand inhabitants dwell now in that part of London, where, within about fifty years past, there was not a house standing.

  1. On the more eastern part, the same increase goes on in proportion, namely, all Goodman’s Fields, the name gives evidence for it, and the many streets between White-Chapel and Rosemary Lane, all built since the year 1678. Well Close, now called Marine Square, was so remote from houses, that it used to be a very dangerous place to go over after it was dark, and many people have been robbed and abused in passing it; a well standing in the middle, just where the Danish church is now built, there the mischief was generally done; beyond this, all the hither or west end of Ratcliff-high-way, from the corner of Gravel-Lane, to the east end of East Smithfield, was a road over the fields; likewise those buildings, now called Virginia-street, and all the streets on the side of Ratcliff-high-way to Gravel-Lane above named.
  2. To come to the north side of the town, and beginning at Shoreditch, west, and Hoxton-Square, and Charles’s -Square adjoyning, and the streets intended for a market-place, those were all open fields, from Anniseed-clear to Hoxton Town, till the year 1689, or thereabouts; Pitfield-street was a bank, parting two pasture grounds, and Ask’s Hospital was another open field: Farther west, the like addition of buildings begins at the foot way, by the Pest-house, and includes the French hospital, Old street two squares, and several streets, extending from Brick-Lane to Mount-Mill, and the road to Islington, and from the road, still west, to Wood’s Close, and to St. John’s, and Clerkenwell, all which streets and squares are built since the year 1688 and 1689, and were before that, and some for a long time after, open fields or gardens, and never built on till after that time.

From hence we go on still west, and beginning at Gray’s -Inn, and going on to those formerly called Red Lyon Fields, and Lamb’s Conduit Fields, we see there a prodigious pile of buildings; it begins at Gray’s-Inn Wall towards Red-Lyon Street, from whence, in a strait line, ’tis built quite to Lamb’s Conduit Fields, north, including a great range of buildings yet unfinish’d, reaching to Bedford Row and the Cockpit, east, and including Red Lyon Square, Ormond Street, and the great new square at the west end of it, and all the streets between that square and King’s Gate in Holbourn, where it goes out; this pile of buildings is very great, the houses so magnificent and large, that abundance of persons of quality, and some of the nobility are found among them, particularly in Ormond Street, is the D——— of Powis’s house, built at the expence of France, on account of the former house being burnt, while the Duke D’Aumont, the French Ambassador Extraordinary lived in it; it is now a very noble structure, tho’ not large, built of free-stone, and in the most exact manner, according to the rules of architecture, and is said to be, next the Banquetting House, the most regular building in this part of England.

Here is also a very convenient church, built by the contribution of the gentry inhabitants of these buildings, tho’ not yet made parochial, being called St. George’s Chapel.

Farther west, in the same line, is Southampton great square, called Bloomsbury, with King-street on the east side of it, and all the numberless streets west of the square, to the market place, and through Great-Russel-street by Montague House, quite into the Hampstead road, all which buildings, except the old building of Southampton House and some of the square, has been form’d from the open fields, since the time above-mentioned, and must contain several thousands of houses; here is also a market, and a very handsome church new built.

From hence, let us view the two great parishes of St. Giles’s and St. Martin’s in the Fields, the last so increased, as to be above thirty years ago, formed into three parishes, and the other about now to be divided also.

The increase of the buildings here, is really a kind of prodigy; all the buildings north of Long Acre, up to the Seven Dials, all the streets, from Leicester-Fields and St. Martin’s -Lane, both north and west, to the Hay-Market and Soho, and from the Hay-Market to St. James’s -street inclusive, and to the park wall; then all the buildings on the north side of the street, called Picadilly, and the road to Knight’s -Bridge, and between that and the south side of Tyburn Road, including Soho-Square, Golden-Square, and now Hanover-Square, and that new city on the north side of Tyburn Road, called Cavendish-Square, and all the streets about it.

This last addition, is, by calculation, more in bulk than the cities of Bristol, Exeter and York, if they were all put together; all which places were, within the time mentioned, meer fields of grass, and employ’d only to feed cattle as other fields are.

The many little additions that might be named besides these, tho’ in themselves considerable, yet being too many to give room to here, I omit.

This is enough to give a view of the difference between the present and the past greatness of this mighty city, called London.

N.B. Three projects have been thought of, for the better regulating the form of this mighty building, which tho’ not yet brought to perfection, may, perhaps, in time, be brought forwards, and if it should, would greatly add to the beauty.

  1. Making another bridge over the Thames.

  2. Making an Act of Parliament, abrogating the names as well as the jurisdictions of all the petty privileged places, and joyning or uniting the whole body, Southwark and all, into one city, and calling it by one name, London.

  3. Forbidding the extent of the buildings in some particular places, where they too much run it out of shape, and letting the more indented parts swell out on the north and south side a little, to balance the length, and bring the form of the whole more near to that of a circle, as particularly stopping the running out of the buildings at the east and west ends, as at Ratcliff and Deptford, east, and at Tyburn and Kensington roads, west, and encouraging the building out at Moor-fields, Bunhil-fields, the west side of Shoreditch, and such places, and the north part of Gray’s -Inn, and other adjacent parts, where the buildings are not equally filled out, as in other places, and the like in St. George’s Fields and behind Redriff on the other side of the water.

But these are speculations only, and must be left to the wisdom of future ages.

The City

I return now, to some short description of the parts; hitherto I have been upon the figure and extent of the city and its out-parts; I come now to speak of the inside, the buildings, the inhabitants, the commerce, and the manner of its government, &c.

It should be observed, that the city being now re-built, has occasioned the building of some publick edifices, even in the place which was inhabited, which yet were not before, and the re-building others in a new and more magnificent manner than ever was done before.

  1. That beautiful column, called the Monument, erected at the charge of the city, to perpetuate the fatal burning of the whole, cannot be mentioned but with some due respect to the building itself, as well as to the city; it is two hundred and two feet high, and in its kind, out does all the obelisks and pillars of the ancients, at least that I have seen, having a most stupendous stair-case in the middle to mount up to the balcony, which is about thirty feet short of the top, and whence there are other steps made even to look out at the top of the whole building; the top is fashioned like an urn.

  2. The canal or river, called Fleet-ditch, was a work of great magnificence and expence; but not answering the design, and being now very much neglected, and out of repair, is not much spoken of, yet it has three fine bridges over it, and a fourth, not so fine, yet useful as the rest, and the tide flowing up to the last; the canal is very useful for bringing of coals and timber, and other heavy goods; but the warehouses intended under the streets, on either side, to lay up such goods in, are not made use of, and the wharfs in many places are decay’d and fallen in, which make it all look ruinous.

The Royal Exchange, the greatest and finest of the kind in the world, is the next publick work of the citizens, the beauty of which answers for itself, and needs no description here; ’tis observable, that tho’ this Exchange cost the citizens an immense sum of money re-building, some authors say, eighty thousand pounds, being finished and embellished in so exquisite a manner, yet it was so appropriated to the grand affair of business, that the rent or income of it for many years, fully answered the interest of the money laid out in building it: Whether it does so still or not, I will not say, the trade for millenary goods, fine laces, &c. which was so great above stairs for many years, being since scattered and removed, and the shops, many of them, left empty; but those shops, of which there were eight double rows above, and the shops and offices round it below, with the vaults under the whole, did at first, yield a very great sum.

Among other publick edifices, that of the hospital of Bethlehem, or Bedlam, should not be forgot, which is at the very time of writing this, appointed to be inlarged with two new wings, and will then be the most magnificent thing of its kind in the world.

Likewise the Custom-House, an accidental fire having demolished part of it, and given the commissioners opportunity to take in more ground, will, when it is finished, out-shine all the custom-houses in Europe.

The churches in London are rather convenient than fine, not adorned with pomp and pageantry as in Popish countries; but, like the true Protestant plainness, they have made very little of ornament either within them or without, nor, excepting a few, are they famous for handsome steeples, a great many of them are very mean, and some that seem adorned, are rather deform’d than beautified by the heads that contrived, or by the hands that built them.

Some, however, hold up their heads with grandeur and magnificence, and are really ornaments to the whole, I mean by these, such as Bow, St. Brides, the new church in the Strand, Rood-Lane Church, or St. Margaret Fattens, St. Antholins, St. Clement Danes, and some others, and some of the fifty churches, now adding by the county and charity of the government, are like to be very well adorned.

Three or four Gothick towers have been rebuilt at the proper expences of the fund appointed, and are not the worst in all the city, namely St. Michael at Cornhill, St Dunstan in the East, St. Christophers, St. Mary Aldermary, and at St. Sepulchre’s .

But the beauty of all the churches in the city, and of all the Protestant churches in the world, is the cathedral of St. Paul’s; a building exceeding beautiful and magnificent; tho’ some authors are pleased to expose their ignorance, by pretending to find fault with it:?Tis easy to find fault with the works even of God Himself, when we view them in the gross, without regard to the particular beauties of every part separately considered, and without searching into the reason and nature of the particulars; but when these are maturely inquired into, viewed with a just reverence, and considered with judgment, then we fly out in due admirations of the wisdom of the Author from the excellency of His works.

The vast extent of the dome, that mighty arch, on which so great a weight is supported (meaning the upper towers or lanthorn of stone work seventy feet high) may well account for the strength of the pillars and butments below; yet those common observers of the superficial parts of the building, complain, that the columns are too gross, that the work looks heavy, and the lower figures near the eye are too large, as if the Dorick and the Attick were not each of them as beautiful in their place as the Corinthian.

The wise architect, like a compleat master of his business, had the satisfaction, in his lifetime, of hearing those ignorant reprovers of his work confuted, by the approbation of the best masters in Europe; and the church of St. Peter’s in Rome, which is owned to be the most finished piece in the world, only exceeds St. Paul’s in the magnificence of its inside work; the painting, the altars, the oratories, and the variety of its imagery; things, which, in a Protestant church, however ornamental, are not allowed of.

If all the square columns, the great pilasters, and the flat pannel work, as well within as without, which they now alledge are too heavy and look too gross, were filled with pictures, adorned with carved work and gilding, and crowded with adorable images of the saints and angels, the kneeling crowd would not complain of the grossness of the work; but ’tis the Protestant plainness, that divesting those columns, &c. of their ornaments, makes the work, which in itself is not so large and gross as that of St. Peter’s, be called gross and heavy; whereas neither by the rules of order, or by the necessity of the building, to be proportioned and sufficient to the height and weight of the work, could they have been less, or any otherwise than they are.

Nay, as it was, those gentlemen who in Parliament opposed Sir Christopher Wren’s request, of having the dome covered with copper, and who moved to have had the lanthorn on the top made shorter, and built of wood; I say, those gentlemen pretending skill in the art, and offering to reproach the judgment of the architect, alledged, That the copper and the stone lanthorn would be too heavy, and that the pillars below would not support it.

To which Sir Christopher answered, That he had sustained the building with such sufficient columns, and the buttment was every where so good, that he would answer for it with his head, that it should bear the copper covering and the stone lanthorn, and seven thousand ton weight laid upon it more than was proposed, and that nothing below should give way, no not one half quarter of an inch; but that, on the contrary, it should be all the firmer and stronger for the weight that should be laid on it; adding, That it was with this view that the work was brought up from its foundation, in such manner, as made common observers rather think the first range of the buildings too gross for its upper part; and that, if they pleased, he would undertake to raise a spire of stone upon the whole, a hundred foot higher than the cross now stands.

When all these things are considered complexly, no man that has the least judgment in building, that knows any thing of the rules of proportion, and will judge impartially, can find any fault in this church; on the contrary, those excellent lines of Mr. Dryden, which were too meanly applied in allegory to the praise of a paltry play, may be, with much more honour to the author, and justice to this work, applied here to St. Paul’s Church.

Strong Dorick pillars form the base,

Corinthian fills the upper space;

So all below is strength, and all above is grace.

Sir Christopher’s design was, indeed, very unhappily baulked in several things at the beginning, as well in the situation as in the conclusion of this work, which, because very few may have heard of, I shall mention in publick, from the mouth of its author.

1. In the situation: He would have had the situation of the church removed a little to the north, that it should have stood just on the spot of ground which is taken up by the street called Pater-noster-Row, and the buildings on either side; so that the north side of the church should have stood open to the street now called Newgate-street, and the south side, to the ground on which the church now stands.

By this situation, the east end of the church, which is very beautiful, would have looked directly down the main street of the city, Cheapside; and for the west end, Ludgate having been removed a little north, the main street called Ludgate-street and Ludgate-Hill, would only have sloped a little W.S.W. as they do now irregularly two ways, one within, and the other without the gate, and all the street beyond Fleet-Bridge would have received no alteration at all.

By this situation, the common thorough-fare of the city would have been removed at a little farther distance from the work, and we should not then have been obliged to walk just under the very wall as we do now, which makes the work appear quite out of all perspective, and is the chief reason of the objections I speak of; whereas, had it been viewed at a little distance, the building would have been seen infinitely to more advantage.

Had Sir Christopher been allowed this situation, he would then, also, have had more room for the ornament of the west end, which, tho’ it is a most beautiful work, as it now appears, would have been much more so then, and he would have added a circular piazza, to it, after the model of that at Rome, but much more magnificent, and an obelisk of marble in the center of the circle, exceeding any thing that the world can now shew of its kind, I mean of modern work.

But the circumstance of things hindered this noble design, and the city being almost rebuilt before he obtained an order and provision for laying the foundation; he was prescribed to the narrow spot where we see it now stands, in which the building, however magnificent in itself, stands with infinite disadvantage as to the prospect of it; the inconveniencies of which was so apparent when the church was finished, that leave was at length, tho’ not without difficulty, obtained, to pull down one whole row of houses on the north side of the body of the church, to make way for the ballister that surrounds the cimetry or church-yard, and, indeed, to admit the light into the church, as well as to preserve it from the danger of fire.

Another baulk which, as I said, Sir Christopher met with, was in the conclusion of the work, namely, the covering of the dome, which Sir Christopher would have had been of copper double gilded with gold; but he was over-ruled by Party, and the city thereby, deprived of the most glorious sight that the world ever saw, since the temple of Solomon.

Yet with all these disadvantages, the church is a most regular building, beautiful, magnificent, and beyond all the modern works of its kind in Europe, St. Peter’s at Rome, as above, only except ed.

It is true, St. Peter’s, besides its beauty in ornament and imagery, is beyond St. Paul’s in its dimensions, is every way larger; but it is the only church in the world that is so; and it was a merry hyperbole of Sir Christopher Wren’s, who, when some gentlemen in discourse compared the two churches, and in compliment to him, pretended to prefer St. Paul’s, and when they came to speak of the dimensions, suggested, that St. Paul’s was the biggest: I tell you, says Sir Christopher, you might set it in St. Peter’s, and look for it a good while, before you could find it.

Having thus spoken of the city and adjacent buildings of London, and of the particulars which I find chiefly omitted by other writers, I have not room here to enter into all the articles needful to a full description: However, I shall touch a little at the things most deserving a stranger’s observation.

Supposing now, the whole body of this vast building to be considered as one city, London, and not concerning myself or the reader with the distinction of its several jurisdictions; we shall then observe it only as divided into three, viz. the city, the Court, and the out-parts.

The city is the center of its commerce and wealth.

The Court of its gallantry and splendor.

The out-parts of its numbers and mechanicks; and in all these, no city in the world can equal it.

Between the Court and city, there is a constant communication of business to that degree, that nothing in the world can come up to it.

As the city is the center of business; there is the Custom-house, an article, which, as it brings in an immense revenue to the publick, so it cannot be removed from its place, all the vast import and export of goods being, of necessity, made there; nor can the merchants be removed, the river not admitting the ships to come any farther.

Here, also, is the Excise Office, the Navy Office, the Bank, and almost all the offices where those vast funds are fixed, in which so great a part of the nation are concerned, and on the security of which so many millions are advanced.

Here are the South Sea Company, the East India Company, the Bank, the African Company, &c. whose stocks support that prodigious paper commerce, called Stock-Jobbing; a trade, which once bewitched the nation almost to its ruin, and which, tho’ reduced very much, and recovered from that terrible infatuation which once overspread the whole body of the people, yet is still a negotiation, which is so vast in its extent, that almost all the men of substance in England are more or less concerned in it, and the property of which is so very often alienated, that even the tax upon the transfers of stock, tho’ but five shillings for each transfer, brings many thousand pounds a year to the government; and some have said, that there is not less than a hundred millions of stock transferred forward or backward from one hand to another every year, and this is one thing which makes such a constant daily intercourse between the Court part of the town, and the city; and this is given as one of the principal causes of the prodigious conflux of the nobility and gentry from all parts of England to London, more than ever was known in former years, viz. That many thousands of families are so deeply concerned in those stocks, and find it so absolutely necessary to be at hand to take the advantage of buying and selling, as the sudden rise or fall of the price directs, and the loss they often sustain by their ignorance of things when absent, and the knavery of brokers and others, whom, in their absence, they are bound to trust, that they find themselves obliged to come up and live constantly here, or at least, most part of the year.

This is the reason why, notwithstanding the encrease of new buildings, and the addition of new cities, as they may be called, every year to the old, yet a house is no sooner built, but ’tis tenanted and inhabited, and every part is crouded with people, and that not only in the town, but in all the towns and villages round, as shall be taken notice of in its place.

But let the citizens and inhabitants of London know, and it may be worth the reflection of some of the landlords, and builders especially, that if peace continues, and the publick affairs continue in honest and upright management, there is a time coming, at least the nation hopes for it, when the publick debts being reduced and paid off, the funds or taxes on which they are established, may cease, and so fifty or sixty millions of the stocks, which are now the solid bottom of the South-Sea Company, East-India Company, Bank, &c. will cease, and be no more; by which the reason of this conflux of people being removed, they will of course, and by the nature of the thing, return again to their country seats, to avoid the expensive living at London, as they did come up hither to share the extravagant gain of their former business here.

What will be the condition of this overgrown city in such a case, I must leave to time; but all those who know the temporary constitution of our funds, know this, 1. That even, if they are to spin out their own length, all those funds which were given for thirty-two years, have already run out one third, and some of them almost half the time, and that the rest will soon be gone: 2. That as in two years more, the Government which receives six per cent, and pays but five, and will then pay but four per cent, interest, will be able every year to be paying off and lessening the publick debt, ‘till, in time, ’tis to be hoped, all our taxes may cease, and the ordinary revenue may, as it always used to do, again supply the ordinary expence of the government.

Then, I say, will be a time to expect the vast concourse of people to London, will separate again and disperse as naturally, as they have now crouded hither: What will be the fate then of all the fine buildings in the out parts, in such a case, let any one judge.

There has formerly been a great emulation between the Court end of the town, and the city; and it was once seriously proposed in a certain reign, how the Court should humble the city; nor was it so impracticable a thing at that time, had the wicked scheme been carried on: Indeed, it was carried farther than consisted with the prudence of a good government, or of a wise people; for the Court envy’d the city’s greatness, and the citizens were ever jealous of the Court’s designs: The most fatal steps the Court took to humble the city, and which, as I say, did not consist with the prudence of a good government, were, 1. The shutting up the Exchequer, and, 2. The bringing a quo warranto against their Charter; but these things can but be touch’d at here; the city has outliv’d it all, and both the attempts turn’d to the discredit of the Court party, who pushed them on: But the city, I say, has gained the ascendant, and is now made so necessary to the Court (as before it was thought rather a grievance) that now we see the Court itself the daily instrument to encourage and increase the opulence of the city, and the city again, by its real grandeur, made not a glory only, but an assistance and support to the Court, on the greatest and most sudden emergencies.

Nor can a breach be now made on any terms, but the city will have the advantage; for while the stocks, and Bank, and trading companies remain in the city, the center of the money, as well as of the credit and trade of the kingdom, will be there.

Nor are these capital offices only necessarily kept in the city, but several offices belonging to the public oeconomy of the administration, such as the Post Office, the Navy, the Victualling, and the Pay Offices, including the Ordnance Office, which is kept in the Tower. In a word, the offices may, indeed, be said to be equally divided.

The city has all those above-mentioned, and the Court has the Admiralty, the Exchequer, and the Secretaries of State’s Offices, with those of the Pay-Masters of the Army, &c.

Besides these, the Council, the Parliament, and the Courts of Justice, are all kept at the same part of the town; but as all suits among the citizens are, by virtue of their privileges, to be try’d within the liberty of the city, so the term is obliged to be (as it were) adjourned from Westminster-Hall to Guild-Hall, to try causes there; also criminal cases are in like manner tried monthly at the Old Baily, where a special commission is granted for that purpose to the judges; but the Lord Mayor always presides, and has the chair.

The equality, however, being thus preserved, and a perfect good understanding between the Court and city having so long flourished, this union contributes greatly to the flourishing circumstances of both, and the publick credit is greatly raised by it; for it was never known, that the city, on any occasion, was so assistant to the government, as it has been since this general good agreement. No sum is so great, but the Bank has been able to raise. Here the Exchequer bills are at all times circulated, money advanced upon the funds as soon as laid, and that at moderate interest, not incroaching on the government, or extorting large interest to eat up the nation, and disappoint the sovereign, and defeat his best designs, as in King William’s time was too much the practice.

By this great article of publick credit, all the king’s business is done with chearfulness. provisions are now bought to victual the fleets without difficulty, and at reasonable rates. The several yards where the slips are built and fitted out, are currently paid: The magazines of millitary and naval stores kept full: In a word, by this very article of publick credit, of which the Parliament is the foundation (and the city, are the architectures or builders) all those great things are now done with ease, which, in the former reigns, went on heavily, and were brought about with the utmost difficulty.

But, to return to the city; Besides the companies and publick offices, which are kept in the city, there are several particular offices and places, some built or repaired on purpose, and others hired and beautified for the particular business they carry on respectively: As,

Here are several great offices for several societies of ensurers; for here almost all hazards may be ensured; the four principal are called, 1. Royal Exchange Ensurance: 2. The London Ensurers: 3. The Hand in Hand Fire Office: 4. The Sun Fire Office.

In the two first of those, all hazards by sea are ensured, that is to say, of ships or goods, not lives; as also houses and goods are ensured from fire.

In the last, only houses and goods.

In all which offices, the premio is so small, and the recovery, in case of loss, so easy and certain, where no fraud is suspected, that nothing can be shewn like it in the whole world; especially that of ensuring houses from fire, which has now attained such an universal approbation, that I am told, there, are above seventy thousand houses thus ensured in London, and the parts adjacent.

The East-India House is in Leadenhall-Street, an old, but spacious building; very convenient, though not beautiful, and I am told, it is under consultation to have it taken down, and rebuilt with additional buildings for warehouses and cellars for their goods, which at present are much wanted.

The African Company’s house is in the same street, a very handsome, well-built, and convenient house, and which fully serves for all the offices their business requires.

The Bank is kept in Grocer’s Hall, a very convenient place, and, considering its situation, so near the Exchange, a very spacious, commodious place.

Here business is dispatch’d with such exactness, and such expedition and so much of it too, that it is really prodigious; no confusion, nobody is either denied or delayed payment, the merchants who keep their cash there, are sure to have their bills always paid, and even advances made on easy terms, if they have occasion. No accounts in the world are more exactly kept, no place in the world has so much business done, with so much ease.

In the next street (the Old Jury) is the Excise Office, in a very large house, formerly the dwelling of Sir John Fredrick, and afterwards, of Sir Joseph Hern, very considerable merchants. In this one office is managed an immense weight of business, and they have in pay, as I am told, near four thousand officers: The whole kingdom is divided by them into proper districts, and to every district, a collector, a supervisor, and a certain number of gaugers, called, by the vulgar title excise men.

Nothing can be more regular, than the methods of this office, by which an account of the whole excise is transmitted from the remotest parts of the kingdom, once every six weeks, which is called a sitting, and the money received, or prosecutions commenced for it, in the next sitting.

Under the management of this office, are now brought, not only the excise upon beer, ale, and other liquors, as formerly, but also the duties on malt and candles, hops, soap, and leather, all which are managed in several and distinct classes, and the accounts kept in distinct books; but, in many places, are collected by the same officers, which makes the charge of the collection much easier to the government: Nor is the like duty collected in any part of the world, with so little charge, or so few officers.

The South-Sea House is situate in a large spot of ground, between Broad-Street and Threadneedle-Street, two large houses having been taken in, to form the whole office; but, as they were, notwithstanding, straighten’d for room, and were obliged to summon their general courts in another place, viz. at Merchant-Taylors Hall; so they have now resolved to erect a new and compleat building for the whole business, which is to be exceeding fine and large, and to this end, the company has purchased several adjacent buildings, so that the ground is inlarged towards Threadneedle-Street; but, it seems, they could not be accommodated to their minds on the side next Broad-Street, so we are told, they will not open a way that way, as before.

As the company are enlarging their trade to America, and have also engaged in a new trade, namely, that of the Greenland whale fishing, they are like to have an occasion to enlarge their offices. This building, they assure us, will cost the company from ten to twenty thousand pounds, that is to say, a very great sum.

The Post Office, a branch of the revenue formerly not much valued, but now, by the additional penny upon the letters, and by the visible increase of business in the nation, is grown very considerable. This office maintains now, pacquet boats to Spain and Portugal, which never was done before: So the merchants letters for Cadiz or Lisbonne, which were before two and twenty days in going over France and Spain to Lisbonne, oftentimes arrive there now, in nine or ten days from Falmouth.

Likewise, they have a pacquet from Marseilles to Port Mahone, in the Mediterranean, for the constant communication of letters with his majesty’s garrison and people in the island of Minorca.

They have also a pacquet from England to the West-Indies; but I am not of opinion, that they will keep it up for much time longer, if it be not already let fall.

This office is kept in Lombard-Street, in a large house, formerly Sir Robert Viner’s, once a rich goldsmith; but ruined at the shutting up of the Exchequer, as above.

The penny post, a modern contrivance of a private person, one Mr. William Dockraw, is now made a branch of the general revenue by the Post Office; and though, for a time, it was subject to miscarriages and mistakes, yet now it is come also into so exquisite a management, that nothing can be more exact, and ’tis with the utmost safety and dispatch, that letters are delivered at the remotest corners of the town, almost as soon as they could be sent by a messenger, and that from four, five, six, to eight times a day, according as the distance of the place makes it practicable; and you may send a letter from Ratcliff or Limehouse in the East, to the farthest part of Westminster for a penny, and that several times in the same day.

Nor are you tied up to a single piece of paper, as in the General Post-Office, but any packet under a pound weight, goes at the same price.

I mention this the more particularly, because it is so manifest a testimony to the greatness of this city, and to the great extent of business and commerce in it, that this penny conveyance should raise so many thousand pounds in a year, and employ so many poor people in the diligence of it, as this office employs.

We see nothing of this at Paris, at Amsterdam, at Hamburgh, or any other city, that ever I have seen, or heard of.

The Custom House I have just mentioned before, but must take up a few lines to mention it again. The stateliness of the building, shewed the greatness of the business that is transacted there: The Long Room is like an Exchange every morning, and the croud of people who appear there, and the business they do, is not to be explained by words, nothing of that kind in Europe is like it.

Yet it has been found, that the business of export and import in this port of London, is so prodigiously increased, and the several new offices, which they are bound to erect for the managing the additional parts of the customs, are such, that the old building, though very spacious, is too little, and as the late Fire burnt or demolished some part of the west end of the Custom House, they have had the opportunity in rebuilding, to enlarge it very much, buying in the ground of some of the demolished houses, to add to the Custom House, which will be now a most glorious building.

The keys, or wharfs, next the river, fronting not the Custom House only, but the whole space from the Tower stairs, or dock, to the bridge, ought to be taken notice of as a publick building; nor are they less an ornament to the city, as they are a testimony of the vast trade carried on in it, than the Royal Exchange itself.

The revenue, or income, brought in by these wharfs, inclusive of the warehouses belonging to them, and the lighters they employ, is said to amount to a prodigious sum; and, as I am told, seldom so little as forty thousand pounds per annum: And abundance of porters, watchmen, wharfingers, and other officers, are maintained here by the business of the wharfs; in which, one thing is very remarkable, That here are porters, and poor working men, who, though themselves not worth, perhaps, twenty pounds in the world, are trusted with great quantities of valuable goods, sometimes to the value of several thousand pounds, and yet ’tis very rarely to be heard, that any loss or embezzlement is made. The number of these keys extending, as above, from the bridge to the Tower Dock, is seventeen.

From these publick places, I come next to the markets, which, in such a mass of building, and such a collection of people, and where such business is done, must be great, and very many. To take a view of them in particular;

First, Smithfield Market for living cattle, which is, without question, the greatest in the world; no description can be given of it, no calculation of the numbers of creatures sold there, can be made. This market is every Monday and Friday.

There is, indeed, a liberty taken by the butchers, to go up to Islington, and to Whitechapel, and buy of the country drovers, who bring cattle to town; but this is called forestalling the market, and is not allowed by law.

There is also a great market, or rather fair for horses, in Smithfield every Friday in the afternoon, where very great numbers of horses, and those of the highest price, are to be sold weekly.

The flesh markets are as follow.

Leaden-Hall, Honey-Lane, Newgate, Clare, Shadwell, Southwark, Westminster, Spittle Fields, Hoxton (forsaken) Brook, Bloomsbury, Newport, St. James’s, Hungerford.

N.B. At all these markets, there is a part set by for a fish market, and a part for an herb market; so that when I say afterwards, there are fish markets, and herb markets, I am to be understood, such as are wholly for fish, or for herbs and fruit. For example,

Fish markets { Billingsgate, Fishstreet Hill, and Old Fishstreet.
Herb markets Covent Garden, and Stocks Market.
N.B. Cherry market, and apple market } At the Three Cranes.
Corn markets Bear Key, and Queen Hith.
Meal markets { Queen Hith, Hungerford, Ditch-Side, and Whitecross-Street.
Hay markets { Whitechapel, Smithfield, Southwark, the Hay-Market-Street Westminster, and. Bloomsbury.
Leather market Leaden Hall.
Hides and skins Leaden Hall, and Wood’s Close.
Coal markets Billingsgate, Room Land.
Bay market Leaden Hall.
Broadcloth market } Blackwell Hall.

N.B. The last three are, without doubt, the greatest in the world of those kinds.

Bubble market Exchange Alley.

These markets are so considerable in themselves, that they will merit a longer and more particular description, than I have room for in this place. I shall, however, briefly mention them again in their order.

Of the fourteen flesh markets, or markets for provisions, seven of them are of antient standing, time out of mind: But the other seven are erected since the enlargement of buildings mentioned above. The old ones are, Leaden-Hall, Honey-Lane, Newgate Market, Southwark, Clare, St. James’s, and Westminster; and these are so considerable, such numbers-of buyers, and such an infinite quantity of provisions of all sorts, flesh, fish, and fowl, that, especially the first, no city in the world can equal them. ’Tis of the first of these markets, that a certain Spanish ambassador said, There was as much meat sold in it in one month, as would suffice all Spain for a year.

This great market, called, Leaden-Hall, though standing in the middle of the city, contains three large squares, every square having several outlets into divers streets, and all into one another. The first, and chief, is called, the Beef Market, which has two large gates, one into Leaden Hall Street, one into Gracechurch Street, and two smaller, viz. One by a long pav’d passage leading into Limestreet, and one under a gateway from the second square. In this square, every Wednesday is kept a market for raw hides, tann’d leather, and shoemakers tools; and in the warehouses, up stairs on the east and south sides of the square, is the great market for Colechester bayes.

The second square is divided into two oblongs, in the first is the fish market, and in the other, a market for country higlers, who bring small things, such as pork, butter, eggs, pigs, country dress’d, with some fouls, and such like country fare.

The north part of the fish market, the place being too large for the fishmongers use, are the stalls of the town butchers for mutton and veal, the best and largest of which, that England can produce, is to be bought there, and the east part is a flesh market for country butchers.

The third, and last square, which is also very large, is divided into three parts: Round the circumference, is the butter market, with all sorts of higglary goods, as before: The south part is the poultry market, and the bacon market, and the center is an herb market.

All the other markets follow the same method in proportion to the room they have for it; and there is an herb market in every one; but the chief markets in the whole city for herbs and garden-stuff, are the Stocks and Covent Garden.

There are but two corn markets in the whole city and out parts; but they are monsters for magnitude, and not to be matched in the world. These are Bear Key, and Queen Hith: To the first comes all the vast quantity of corn that is brought into the city by sea, and here corn may be said, not to be sold by cart loads, or horse loads, but by ship loads, and, except the corn chambers and magazines in Holland, when the fleets come in from Dantzick and England, the whole world cannot equal the quantity bought and sold here.

This is the place whither all the corn is brought, which, as I have observed, is provided in all the counties of England, near the sea coast, and shipp’d for London, and no quantity can be wanted, either for home consumption, or for foreign exportation, but the corn factors, who are the managers of this market, are ready to supply it.

The other, which I call a corn market too, is at Queen Hith; but this market is chiefly, if not wholly, for malt; as to the whole corn, as the quantity of malt brought to this market is prodigious great, so I must observe too, that this place is the receiver of all the malt, the barley of which, takes up the ground of so many hundred thousand acres of land in the counties of Surrey, Bucks, Berks, Oxford, Southampton, and Wilts, and is called west country malt.

It is true, there is a very great quantity of malt, and of other corn too, brought to some other places on the river, and sold there, viz. To Milford Lane, above the bridge, and the Hermitage, below the bridge; but this is but, in general, a branch of the trade of the other places.

It must not be omitted, that Queen Hith is also a very great market for meal, as well as malt, and, perhaps, the greatest in England.

The vessels which bring this malt and meal to Queen Hith, are worth the observation of any stranger that understands such things. They are remarkable for the length of the vessel, and the burthen they carry, and yet the little water they draw; in a word, some of those barges carry above a thousand quarter of malt at a time, and yet do not draw two foot of water. N.B. A thousand quarter of malt must be granted to be, at least, a hundred tun burthen. Note also, Some of these large barges come as far as from Abbington, which is above one hundred and fifty miles from London, if we measure by the river.

The next market, which is more than ordinary remarkable, is the coal market at Billingsgate. This is kept every morning on the broad place just at the head of Billingsgate Dock, and the place is called Room Land; from what old forgotten original it has that name, history is silent. I need not, except for the sake of strangers, take notice, that the city of London, and parts adjacent, as also all the south of England, is supplied with coals, called therefore sea-coal, from Newcastle upon Tyne, and from the coast of Durham, and Northumberland. This trade is so considerable, that it is esteemed the great nursery of our best seamen, and of which I shall have occasion to say more in my account of the northern parts of England. The quantity of coals, which it is supposed are, communibus annis, burnt and consumed in and about this city, is supposed to be about five hundred thousand chalder, every chalder containing thirty-six bushels, and generally weighing about thirty hundred weight.

All these coals are bought and sold on this little spot of Room Land, and, though sometimes, especially in case of a war, or of contrary winds, a fleet of five hundred to seven hundred sail of ships, comes up the river at a time, yet they never want a market: The brokers, or buyers of these coals, are called crimps, for what reason, or original, is likewise a mystery peculiar to this trade; for these people are noted for giving such dark names to the several parts of their trade; so the vessels they load their ships with at New Castle, are called keels, and the ships that bring them, are called cats, and hags, or hag boats, and fly boats, and the like. But of that hereafter.

The increase of this consumption of coals, is another evidence of the great increase of the city of London; for, within a few years past, the import of coals was not, in the river of Thames, so great by very near half.

It must be observed, that as the city of London occasions the consumption of so great a quantity of corn and coals, so the measurement of them is under the inspection of the lord mayor and court of aldermen, and for the direction of which, there are allowed a certain number of corn meeters, and coal meeters, whose places are for life, and bring them in a very considerable income. These places are in the gift of the lord mayor for the time being, and are generally sold for three or four thousand pounds a piece, when they fall.

They have abundance of poor men employ’d under them, who are called, also, meeters, and are, or ought to be, freemen of the city.

This is, indeed, a rent-charge upon the buyer, and is a kind of gabel, as well upon the coals as the corn; but the buyer is abundantly recompensed, by being ascertained in his measure without any fraud; so that having bought his coals or corn, he is perfectly unconcerned about the measure, for the sworn meeters are so placed between the buyer and seller, that no injury can be offered, nor have I heard that any complaint of injustice is ever made against the meeters, who are generally men of good character, are sworn to do right, and cannot easily do wrong without being detected; so many eyes being about them, and so many several persons concerned in the work, who have no dependance one upon another.

There is one great work yet behind, which, however, seems necessary to a full description of the city of London, and that is the shipping and the Pool; but in what manner can any writer go about it, to bring it into any reasonable compass? The thing is a kind of infinite, and the parts to be separated from one another in such a description, are so many, that it is hard to know where to begin.

The whole river, in a word, from London-Bridge to Black Wall, is one great arsenal, nothing in the world can be like it: The great building-yards at Schedam near Amsterdam, are said to out-do them in the number of ships which are built there, and they tell us, that there are more ships generally seen at Amsterdam, than in the Thames.

As to the building part, I will not say, but that there may be more vessels built at Schedam, and the parts adjacent, than in the River Thames; but then it must be said;

  1. That the English build for themselves only, the Dutch for all the world.

  2. That almost all the ships the Dutch have, are built there, whereas, not one fifth part of our shipping is built in the Thames; but abundance of ships are built at all the sea-ports in England, such as at New-Castle, Sunderland, Stockton, Whitby, Hull, Gainsborough, Grimsby, Lynn, Yarmouth, Alborough, Walderswick, Ipswich and Harwich, upon the east coast; and at Shoram, Arundel, Brighthelmston, Portsmouth, Southampton, Pool, Weymouth, Dartmouth, Plymouth, besides other places, on the south coast.

  3. That we see more vessels in less room at Amsterdam; but the setting aside their hoys, bilanders and schoots, which are in great numbers always there, being vessels particular to their inland and coasting navigation; you do not see more ships, nor near so many ships of force, at Amsterdam as at London.

  4. That you see more ships there in less room, but, perhaps, not so many ships in the whole.

That part of the river of Thames which is properly the harbour, and where the ships usually deliver or unload their cargoes, is called the Pool, and begins at the turning of the river out of Lime-house Reach, and extends to the Custom-house-Keys: In this compass I have had the curiosity to count the ships as well as I could, en passant, and have found above two thousand sail of all sorts, not reckoning barges, lighters or pleasure-boats, and yatchs; but of vessels that really go to sea.

It is true, the river or Pool, seem’d, at that time, to be pretty full of ships; it is true also, that I included the ships which lay in Deptford and Black-Wall reaches, and in the wet docks, whereof, there are no less than three; but ’tis as true, that we did not include the men of war at the king’s yard and in the wet dock there at Deptford, which were not a very few.

In the river, as I have observed, there are from Battle-Bridge on the Southwark side, and the Hermitage-Bridge on the city-side, reckoning to Black-Wall, inclusive,

Three wet docks for laying up
Twenty two dry docks for repairing
Thirty three yards for building
} merchants ships.

This is inclusive of the builders of lighters, hoys, &c. but exclusive of all boat-builders, wherry-builders, and above-bridge barge-builders.

To enter into any description of the great magazines of all manner of naval stores, for the furnishing those builders, would be endless, and I shall not attempt it; ’tis sufficient to add, That England, as I have said elsewhere, is an inexhaustible store-house of timber, and all the oak timber, and generally the plank also, used in the building these ships, is found in England only, nay, and which is more, it is not fetched from the remoter parts of England, but these southern counties near us are the places where ’tis generally found; as particularly the counties of Berks and Bucks, Surrey, Kent, Sussex, Essex and Suffolk, and very little is brought farther, nor can all the ship-building the whole kingdom are able to build, ever exhaust those counties, tho’ they were to build much more than they do.

But I must land, lest this part of the account seems to smell of the tarr, and I should tire the gentlemen with leading them out of their knowledge.

I should mention, for the information of strangers, &c. that the buildings of this great city are chiefly of brick, as many ways found to be the safest, the cheapest, and the most commodious of all other materials; by safe, I mean from fire, and as by Act of Parliament, every builder is bound to have a partition wall of brick also, one brick and half thick between every house, it is found to be, indeed, very helpful in case of fire.

And as I am speaking of fire and burning of houses, it cannot be omitted, That no where in the world is so good care taken to quench fires as in London; I will not say the like care is taken to prevent them; for I must say, That I think the servants, nay, and masters too in London, are the most careless people in the world about fire, and this, no doubt, is the reason why there are frequently more fires in London and in the out-parts, than there are in all the cities of Europe put them together; nor are they the more careful, as I can learn, either from observation or report, I say, they are not made more cautious, by the innumerable fires which continually happen among them.

And this leads me back to what I just now said, That no city in the world is so well furnished for the extinguishing fires when they happen.

  1. By the great convenience of water which being every where laid in the streets in large timber pipes, as well from the Thames as the New-River, those pipes are furnished with a fire plug, which the parish officers have the key of, and when opened, let out not a pipe, but a river of water into the streets, so that making but a dam in the kennel, the whole street is immediately under water to supply the engines.

  2. By the great number of admirable engines, of which, almost, every parish has one, and some halls also, and some private citizens have them of their own, so that no sooner does a fire break out, but the house is surrounded with engines, and a flood of water poured upon it, ‘till the fire is, as it were, not extinguished only, but drowned.

  3. The several ensurance offices, of which I have spoken above, have each of them a certain sett of men, who they keep in constant pay, and who they furnish with tools proper for the work, and to whom they give jack-caps of leather, able to keep them from hurt, if brick or timber, or any thing not of too great a bulk, should fall upon them; these men make it their business to be ready at call, all hours, and night or day, to assist in case of fire; and it must be acknowledged, they are very dextrous, bold, diligent, and successful. These they call fire-men, but with an odd kind of contradiction in the title, for they are really most of them water-men.

Having mentioned, that the city is so well furnished with water, it cannot be omitted, that there are two great engines for the raising the Thames water, one at the bridge, and the other near Broken Wharf; these raise so great a quantity of water, that, as they tell us, they are able to supply the whole city in its utmost extent, and to supply every house also3 with a running pipe of water up to the uppermost story.

However, the New-River, which is brought by an aqueduct or artificial stream from Ware, continues to supply the greater part of the city with water, only with this addition by the way, that they have been obliged to dig a new head or basin at Islington on a higher ground than that which the natural stream of the river supplies, and this higher basin they fill from the lower, by a great engine worked formerly with six sails, now by many horses constantly working; so from that new elevation of the water, they supply the higher part of the town with the same advantage, and more ease than the Thames engines do it.

There was a very likely proposal set on foot by some gentlemen, whose genius seem’d equal to the work, for drawing another river, rather larger than that now running, and bringing it to a head on some rising grounds beyond Mary le Bonne.

This water was proposed to be brought from the little Coin or Cole near St. Albans, and the river, called Two Waters, near Rickmansworth, and as I have seen the course of the water, and the several supplies it was to have, and how the water-level was drawn for containing the current, I must acknowledge it was a very practical undertaking, and merited encouragement; but it was opposed in Parliament, and dropt for the present: This design was particularly calculated for supplying those prodigious additions of buildings, which I have already described at the west end of the town.

However, tho’ this be laid aside, as also several water-houses in other parts, particularly one at Wapping, one near Battle-Bridge in Southwark, and the famous one at York-Buildings, yet it cannot be denied, that the city of London is the best supplied with water of any great city in the world, and upon as easy terms to its inhabitants.

There were formerly several beautiful conduits of running-water in London, which water was very sweet and good, and was brought at an infinite expence, from several distant springs, in large leaden pipes to those conduits, and this was so lately, that several of those conduits were re-built since the Fire, as one on Snow-Hill and one at Stocks-Market, which serves as a pedestal for the great equestrian statue of King Charles II. erected there at the charge of Sir Robert Viner, then Lord Mayor, and who was then an eminent banker in Lombard-street; but his loyalty could not preserve him from being ruined by the common calamity, when the king shut up the Exchequer.

They tell us a merry story of this statue, how true it may be, let those testify who saw it, if any such witnesses remain, viz. That a certain famous Court lady, I do not say it was the D——— ss of Portsmouth, being brought to bed of a son late in the night, the next morning this glorious equestrian statue had a pillion handsomely placed on it behind the body of the k ——— with a paper pinned to the trapping of the pillion, with words at length, Gone for a midwife.

It is scarce worth while to give an account of the statues in this city, they are neither many, or are those which are, very valuable.

The statue of King Charles II. in marble, standing in the middle of the Royal Exchange, is the best beyond comparison; one of the same prince, and his father, standing in two large niches on the south front of the same building, and being bigger than the life, are coarse pieces compared to it.

The statues of the kings and queens, seventeen of which are already put up in the inside of the Royal Exchange, are tolerable, but all infinitely inferior to that in the middle.

There is a statue of Sir Thomas Gresham, the founder of the Royal Exchange, which outdoes many of those kings, only that it stands in a dark corner, and is little noticed; ’tis placed in a nitch under the piazza, in the north west angle of the Exchange, just regarding the Turky walk, and he has a bale of silk lying by him.

There is another equestrian statue, and but one, as I remember, within the city, and that is of King James the First on the north front of one of the gates of the city called Aldersgate: This was erected on the occasion of that king’s entring the city at that gate when he arrived here from Scotland, to take the crown after the death of Queen Elizabeth; when that statue was finely painted and gilded, which is not usual, nor is the gilding yet worn off; there are some emblematick figures remaining, which were then suited to the occasion of his triumphal entry, and there was another arch form’d for the day at the bars, where the liberties of the city end, that way which is now called Goswell-street, but that was taken down soon after.

The gates of the city are seven, besides posterns, and the posterns that remain are four, besides others that are demolished. The gates are all remaining, two of them which were demolished at the fire, being beautifully re-built: These are Ludgate and Newgate; the first a prison for debt for freemen of the city only, the other a prison for criminals, both for London and Middlesex, and for debtors also for Middlesex, being the county gaol.

Moregate is also re-built, and is a very beautiful gateway, the arch being near twenty foot high, which was done to give room for the city Train’d Bands to go through to the Artillery Ground, where they muster, and that they might march with their pikes advanc’d, for then they had pikemen in every regiment, as well in the army as in the militia, which since that, is quite left off; this makes the gate look a little out of shape, the occasion of it not being known. Cripplegate and Bishopsgate are very old, and make but a mean figure; Aldersgate is about one hundred and twenty years old, and yet being beautified, as I have said, on the occasion of King James’s entry, looks very handsome.

Aldgate was very ancient and decay’d, so that As old as Aldgate, was a city proverb for many years; but this gate was re-built also, upon the triumphant entry of K. James I. and looks still very well; on the east side of this gate are two statues in stone, representing two men, from the waste upward, and in armour, throwing down two great stones, supposing it to be on an enemy assaulting the gate, which I mention, because some time ago, one of these men in armour, whether tired with holding it so long, or dreaming of enemies assaulting the gate, our authors do not inform us; but he threw down the stone, or rather let it fall, after having held it upwards of an hundred years; but, as it happened, it did no harm.

Most of these gates are given by the city to the chief of the officers of the city to live in, and the houses are very convenient dwellings.

Temple-Bar is the only gate which is erected at the extent of the city liberties, and this was occasioned by some needful ceremonies at the proclaiming any King or Queen of England, at which time the gates are shut; the Herald at Arms knocks hard at the door, the sheriffs of the city call back, asking who is there? Then the herald answers, “I come to proclaim,” &, according to the name of the prince who is to succeed to the crown, and repeating the titles of Great Britain, France and Ireland, &c. at which the sheriffs open, and bid them welcome, and so they go on to the Exchange, where they make the last proclamation.

This gate is adorned with the figures of kings below, and traytors above, the heads of several criminals executed for treason being set up there; the statues below are of Queen Elizabeth and King James I. King Charles I. and II. and this is the fourth statue of King Charles II. which is to be seen in the city of London, besides his picture nobly done at full length, which was set up formerly in the Guild-Hall.

There are in London, and the far extended bounds, which I now call so, notwithstanding we are a nation of liberty, more publick and private prisons, and houses of confinement, than any city in Europe, perhaps as many as in all the capital cities of Europe put together; for example:

Public GAOLS.
The Tower.
Newgate.
Ludgate.
King’s Bench.
The Fleet.
Bridewell.
Marshalseas.
The Gatehouse.
Two Counters in the city.
One Counter in the Burrough.
St. Martin’s le Grand.
The Clink, formerly the prison to the Stews.
Whitechapel.
Finsbury.
The Dutchy.
St. Katherines.
Bale-Dock.
Little-Ease.
New Prison.
New-Bridewell.
Tottil-Fields Bridewell
Five night prisons, called Round-houses, &c.
Tolerated PRISONS.
Bethlem or Bedlam.
One hundred and nineteen Spunging Houses.
Fifteen Private Mad-Houses.
The King’s Messengers Houses.
The Sergeant at Arms’s Officers Houses.
The Black Rod Officers-Houses.
Cum aliis.

Three Pest-houses.
The Admiralty Officers Houses.
Tip-staffs Houses.
Chancery Officers Houses.

N.B. All these private houses of confinement, are pretended to be little purgatories, between prison and liberty, places of advantage for the keeping prisoners at their own request, till they can get friends to deliver them, and so avoid going into publick prisons; tho’ in some of them, the extortion is such, and the accommodation so bad, that men choose to be carried away directly.

This has often been complained of, and hopes had of redress; but the rudeness and avarice of the officers prevails, and the oppression is sometimes very great; but that by the way.

In a word; To sum up my description of London, take the following heads; There are in this great mass of buildings thus called London,

Two cathedrals.
Four choirs for musick-worship.
One hundred and thirty five parish churches.
Nine new churches unfinished, being part of fifty appointed to be built.
Sixty nine chapels where the Church of England service is perform’d.
Two churches at Deptford, taken into the limits now describ’d.
Twenty eight foreign churches
Besides Dissenters meetings of all persuasions;
Popish chapels; and
One Jews synagogue.
There are also, thirteen hospitals, besides lesser charities, call’d Alms-houses, of which they reckon above a hundred, many of which have chapels for divine service.
Three colleges.
Twenty-seven publick prisons.
Eight publick schools, called Free Schools.
Eighty three Charity Schools.
Fourteen markets for flesh.
Two for live cattle, besides two herb-markets.
Twenty three other markets, as describ’d.
Fifteen Inns of Court.
Four fairs.
Twenty seven squares, besides those within any single building, as the Temple, Somerset House, &c.
Five publick bridges.
One town-house, or Guild-Hall.
One Royal Exchange.
Two other Exchanges only for shops.
One Custom-house.
Three Artillery Grounds.
Four Pest-houses.
Two bishops palaces;
and
Three royal palaces.

The Court and Westminster

Having dwelt thus long in the city, I mean properly called so, I must be the shorter in my account of other things.

The Court end of the town, now so prodigiously increased, as is said before, would take up a volume by itself, and, indeed, whole volumes are written on the subject.

The king’s palace, tho’ the receptacle of all the pomp and glory of Great Britain, is really mean, in comparison of the rich furniture within, I mean the living furniture, the glorious Court of the King of Great Britain: The splendor of the nobility, the wealth and greatness of the attendants, the oeconomy of the house, and the real grandeur of the whole royal family, out-does all the Courts of Europe, even that of France itself, as it is now managed since the death of Lewis the Great.

But the palace of St. James’s is, I say, too mean, and only seems to be honoured with the Court, while a more magnificent fabrick may be erected, where the King of England usually resided, I mean at White-Hall.

The ruins of that old palace, seem to predict, that the time will come, when that Phoenix shall revive, and when a building shall be erected there, suiting the majesty and magnificence of the British princes, and the riches of the British nation.

Many projects have been set on foot for the re-building the antient palace of White-hall; but most of them have related rather to a fund for raising the money, than a model for the building: But as I once saw a model for the palace itself, know its author, and when it was proposed, and that I still believe that scheme will, at last, be the ground-plot of the work itself, I believe it will not be disagreeable to give a brief account of the design.

A Scheme for a Royal Palace in the place of White-Hall

First, it was proposed, That the whole building should be of Portland stone, and all the front be exactly after the model of the Banquetting House, with such alterations only, as the length and height of the building made necessary.

That the first floor of the building should be raised from the present surface, at least eight feet, as the present building of the Banquetting House now is.

That the whole building should make four fronts, one to the water-side and one to the canal in the park, a third to the north facing Charing-Cross, and the fourth to the south facing King-street in Westminster.

That every front should contain 400 yards, or 1200 feet, in length; that there should be four areas or squares in the inside of the building, the first from the north entrance to be oblong, taking up the whole length of the building from east to west, and that then a long building should cross the whole work, eighty feet broad, and from the east range one thousand feet broad to the west; and in the middle of which, should be a great arch or gate looking to the south gate of the palace: That the other side of the palace be divided into three squares, having two ranges of buildings to run cross them from south to north, and each range to joyn the great range of building which runs from east to west.

That the whole building be withdrawn from the river so far, at least, as where the statue of King James II. now stands, and a spacious terras to be carried on into the Thames twelve feet beyond low-water-mark, and over the river a handsome foot-bridge of twelve great arches only, with a causeway at the end over St. George’s Fields; That the terras and space between the palace and the water, be made into a fine garden, with an orangery on the north side, reaching to the edge of the terras so effectually, as it may cover the garden from the view of any of the buildings on the Strand side, and a royal bagnio at the other end likewise, to cover the necessary buildings for the kitchins which are behind it.

For the extent north, ’tis proposed, That all the buildings be taken down to the wall of Northumberland House, on that side; and to the north side of the Spring Garden, opposite to Suffolk-street and the Hay-Market on the other side; so the front of the building that way, will extend from the hither part of Scotland-yard-Gate, to Prince Rupert’s Garden, and the gate of the palace being in the center of the building, will open in that which is now called the Spring Garden.

One gate of the palace opening thus north, a ballustrade of iron, like that which surrounds St. Paul’s Church, should take in a large parade, reaching to the Meuse-Gate, a space for the street only excepted, and in proportion the other way towards Pail-Mall; and here on the east side, and on the west side, two large guard-houses should be erected, fitted, the one for the horse guards, and the other for the foot, both within the ballustrade, but without the palace, and two smaller guard-houses for detachments of both, be likewise placed on the south side, all at a proper distance from the main building, and all low built.

The canal in the park would be necessarily filled up for about a hundred yards, for the extent of the building that way; the street that now is, must, at the same time, be turned, and a large street for communication with Westminster, be allowed to cross the park from the Pail-Mall south, towards Westminster, to come out at the new iron gate, now leading to Queen’s -Square and Tottil-street; but no houses to be built in it, and four gates in the said street, to lead over the street, from the first floor of the palace, by galleries into the park; All buildings adjoining to the park to be taken down, nor any private doors or keys to be allowed; a stone wall of twenty feet high and eight feet thick, to be built round the park, and the park to be extended west, by taking in Buckingham House, with its gardens.

In this building, the proposer’s scheme was, To have all the offices of the King’s Exchequer, the Revenue, the Council, the Secretaries of State, the Admiralty, the Courts of Justice, and both Houses of Parliament, contain’d within the palace, as was the usage in former times.

To this purpose, the cross range of buildings, going from east to west, through the center of the palace, and looking into the great oblong court, which would contain a thousand feet, exclusive of the east and west fronts, and of the great arch or gate in the center, should be divided thus; That part on the east side of the gate to contain two spacious rooms, one for the House of Peers, the other for the House of Commons, with sufficient offices, galleries of communication, rooms of conference for committees, a court of requests, &c. for the use of the members, and rooms for all other occasions of Parliament business.

The west part of this great range of building to contain a hall, as Westminster-Hall now is, with proper separated courts for the King’s Bench, Chancery, Common-Pleas, and Exchequer-Bars, and a distinct court fix’d, and suitably prepared, for tryals of peers or others, by the House of Lords, notwithstanding which, this court would be sufficiently large to celebrate the Coronation feast, with all its ceremonies, the building being from the middle arch to the west range of buildings, five hundred feet long at least, and one hundred feet broad.

Thus the king’s Court of Justice, his High Court of Parliament, and all the affairs of the Administration, would be managed within his own house, as it anciently was; and as the two cross ranges of buildings, which form’d the three courts on the south side of the Parliament House and Hall of Justice, would be very large, they would afford room for the Lord Chamberlain’s Office, the Admiralty, the War Office, the Green-Cloth, the Wardrobe Office, and all the other family offices, too many to name here.

Then the main range of building on the north side of the palace, should contain (because nearest the city) the Treasury Office, the Secretary’s Offices, the Council Chambers, and the Exchequer Offices.

The apartments of the other three ranges to be wholly taken up with the king’s houshold: for example;

  1. For the royal apartments, being the king’s lodgings, rooms of state and audience, the closet, the oratory, and all the rooms belonging to the apartment of a king; this to take up the east range, fronting the terras garden and the Thames, and looking directly towards the city.

  2. The queen s lodgings to be in the east end of the south range, fronting the City of Westminster; but between the said city and the lodgings, the queen’s garden to be extended from the terras garden mentioned before, to a wall joining a passage from Westminster to the south gate, which wall begins at the iron ballustrade and gate of the great parade before the south entrance of the palace, and ends at the outer stone wall, which surrounds the garden and park. The family for the royal children, to take up the west end of the said south range of buildings, with the like garden also, and a gate joyning the two walls in the middle of the passage, leading to the south gate of the palace, by which, with an easy ascent of steps, a communication should be made between the said two gardens.

The west rouge of buildings fronting the park, should be divided also into two parts, the first being the north end, to consist of royal apartments for the entertainment of foreign princes and foreign ambassadors, at the pleasure of the king, and the other half, or south end to be called the Prince’s Lodgings, and to be for the Prince of Wales for the time being, and his family.

The great arch in the center of the whole, and in the middle of the long range of buildings, to support a large church or chapel royal, for the service of all the houshold, and for preaching before the Houses of Parliament on publick days, as is now at St. Margaret’s and at the Abbey: over this church a large dome or cupola of stone, covered with copper and double gilded.

At the two angles of the building, fronting the river, two private chapels, the one for the queen and her houshold, and the other for the king and his houshold, and either of these to support a dome covered with copper and gilded, as before, tho’ smaller than the other, with a large lanthorn on the top, and a small spire, all of stone.

The fronts to have pavilions and pediments in their proper places; the whole work to be built with the utmost regularity, in the Corinthian order of building, and with all possible beauty and ornament.

The galleries of the royal chapel to be supported with pillars of marble, of the finest and most beautiful workmanship also, the E. end of the building, the altar and balustrade of the same, also niches, with their columns, and pediments of the same, and two pillars of the finest marble, eighteen feet high, standing single, one on each side the steps to the communion table, and on them two statues of the apostles St. Paul and St. Peter, or as the king shall direct, the statues to be large as the life, the capitals of the columns gilded.

All the carv’d work in the walls, and round the cornish, and architrave within and without, double gilded; the ceiling of the chapel to contain one great oval, the rim of it of stone, carved as at St. Paul’s, and gilded, and the middle painted by the best masters, with either a figure of the ascention or the resurrection, the device to be new.

All the carved work in wood, and mouldings, and cornish in the quire and over the stalls, to be double gilded, as likewise of the organ and organ loft.

All the gates and door cases in the out-sides of the work, with all the columns and carv’d work belonging to them, especially the north and south gates, and the two fronts of the great arch in the middle, to be of the finest marble.

All the chimneys and foot paces before them, to be of marble of divers colours, as well English as foreign: The steps, also, of the king and queen’s great stair-cases to be of marble, all the other stair-cases to be of the finest free-stone, fetch’d from Stamford in Lincolnshire, where is the whitest stone in England, and to be built as the stair-case in that called the Queen’s House at Greenwich; no wood to be allowed in any of the stair-cases, except for wainscotting up the side.

All the great stair-cases to be painted in the most curious manner possible, as also the ceilings of all the royal apartments, as well the queen’s as the king’s.

An equestrian statue of the king in the center of one half of the first great court, and the like of the late King William, in the other half.

Large fountains to be kept constantly playing in the smaller courts, and in the terras garden.

Buckingham-House to be bought, and taken in, to be made a royal lodge for the park, with an observatory, and a chamber of rarities: And Marlborough House to be bought, and be made a green-house for exotick plants, and all botannick rarities, and the old royal garden to be again restored, laid open to the park, and be a planted orangery; all the orange and lemon trees to be planted in the earth, so as not to be removed in the winter, but covered and secured separately, as at Beddington in Surrey.

A large building to be added under the wall in the park, next to Tottil-street, Westminster, with separate wards for keeping the lyons and other the strange and foreign bred brutes, which are now kept in the Tower, and care to be taken to furnish it with all the rarities of that kind that the world can procure, with fowls, also, of the like foreign kinds.

A royal bagnio annexed to the green-house in the terras garden, like that for the ladies in the queen’s garden; but both distant from the palace.

A large alottment from the lodgings at the two ends of the N. and E. ranges, for the king’s kitchens, which should have also an additional range of low buildings, separate from the palace, and running down to the water-side; this building would stand just between the terras garden wall, which should hide it, and the wall of Northumberland House: And here (a dock being made for that purpose) all heavy things, needful for the kitchens, and for the whole palace, should be brought in by water; as coals, and wood, and beer, and wine, &c. at the east end, and the prince’s at the west end; the kitchens for the queen and the younger princes or childrens apartments, to be at the other extremes of their respective appartments.

Every range of building to have double rows of rooms on the same floor; but the royal apartments to have also a long gallery behind them, reaching the whole length, the one end to joyn to the Treasury Office and Council Chamber in the north range, and the other end to reach the queen’s royal lodgings at the south range; on the east side of this gallery and in the peers, between the windows on the west side, should be placed, all the fine paintings that the Court are possess’d of, or that can be procur’d.

In the north west angle of the building, a large room or rooms for the royal library, with apartments for the library keeper; galleries in the great room to come at the books, and a cupola upon the top.

In the south west angle, a like repository for the records, as well of the Exchequer as of Parliament, with apartments for the record-keeper, or register, and a dome over it as at the other angle.

The north and south gates of the palace to be embellished in the most exquisite manner possible, and the statues of the king and prince over the arch wrought in marble, in the finest manner possible; the gates to rise twenty five feet above the building, with an attick, and such other work as shall be contrived for the utmost beauty and ornament.

The great stair-cases to be in the angles of the building, built projecting into the squares, that of the king’s apartment, to open into the first court, and into the garden also, and in the like manner the queen’s stair-case, at the other side, to open into the little square and into the privy gardens.

The stair-cases to land upon the galleries, before they enter the apartments, and for that reason, to be in the inside of the building, and to be distinct from it, to prevent taking up any of the apartments of the angles, which are appointed for other purposes; in the middle of the long’s great gallery, doors should be made, leading into the great middle range of buildings; by one of which, his majesty may enter a gallery leading to the House of Lords, and by the other, enter thro’ another gallery to the chapel royal: In the great gallery and in the hall, sixteen large bouffetts or cupboards of gold and gilt plate of all kinds, to be set open on publick days.

Likewise by these doors, the king will hare ready access to all the offices, to all the lodgings, and through the gates formerly mention’d, crossing the great New Street, which have steps to pass over their arches, and descend into the park.

This, indeed, is but an embryo; but it must be confessed, it would be a magnificent building, and would very well suit the grandeur of the British Court: Here a King of Great Britain would live like himself, and half the world would run over to see and wonder at it.

This whole building, the person projecting it, offered to finish, that is to say, all the out-side work, masonry and bricklayers work, with plaisterers, glasiers, plumbers, carpenters and joyners work, carvers, stone-cutters, copper work, iron work, and lead, including ballustrade and fine gates, and, in a word, the whole palace, except painting, gilding, gardening and waterworks, for two million three hundred thousand pounds, the king giving timber, but the undertaker to cut it down, and bring it to the place, the king giving the Portland stone also, and bringing it by water to the place.

Also the king to lay in four thousand blocks of Italian marble of the usual dimensions, the builder to make all the imagery that are to be made of stone; but the king to be at the charge of the equestrian statues in brass; the builder to form all the fountains and basins for the water-works; but all the pipes, vasa, busts, and statues in the gardens, to be at the king’s expence.

But I return to the description of things which really exist, and are not imaginary: As the court is now stated, all the offices and places for business are scattered about.

The Parliament meets, as they ever did, while the Court was at Westminster, in the king’s old palace, and there are the courts of justice also, and the officers of the Exchequer, nor can it be said, however convenient the place is made for them; but that it has a little an air of venerable, tho’ ruin’d antiquity: What is the Court of Requests, the Court of Wards, and the Painted Chamber, tho’ lately repair’d, but the corps of the old English Grandeur laid in state?

The whole, it is true, was anciently the king’s palace or royal house, and it takes up full as much ground as the new palace, which I have given a scheme of, would do, except only the gardens and parks, the space before it, which is still called Palace-yard, is much greater than that which would be at the north gate of the palace of White-hall, as proposed. The gardens, indeed, were not large, but not despicable neither, being the same where my Lord Halifax’s house and gardens now are, and took up all the ground which we see now built upon between the river and the old palace, where the tellers of the Exchequer, as well as the auditor, have handsome dwellings and gardens also.

But, alas! as I say, tho’ they seem now even in their ruins, great; yet compared to the beauty and elegancy of modern living, and of royal buildings in this age, what are they!

The royal apartments, the prince’s lodgings, the great officers apartments, what are they now, but little offices for clerks, rooms for coffee-houses, auctions of pictures, pamphlet and toy-shops?

Even St. Stephen’s Chapel, formerly the royal chapel of the palace, but till lately beautify’d for the convenience of the House of Commons, was a very indifferent place, old and decay’d: The House of Lords is a venerable old place, indeed; but how mean, how incoherent, and how straitned are the several avenues to it, and rooms about it? the matted gallery, the lobby, the back ways the king goes to it, how short are they all of the dignity of the place, and the glory of a King of Great Britain, with the Lords and Commons, that so often meet there?

Some attempts were made lately, to have restored the decrepid circumstances of this part of the building, and orders were given to Mr. Benson, then surveyor of the king’s buildings, to do his part towards it; but it was directed so ill, or understood so little, that some thought he was more likely to throw the old fabrick down, than to set it to rights, for which ignorance and vanity, ’tis said, some have not fared as they deserv’d.

It is true, the sitting of the Parliament is by the order of the Houses themselves, accommodated as well as the place will admit; but how much more beautiful it would be in such a building, as is above contrived, I leave to the contriver to describe and to other people to judge.

Come we next to Westminster-Hall; ’tis true, it is a very noble Gothick building, ancient, vastly large, and the finest roof of its kind in England, being one hundred feet wide; but what a wretched figure does it make without doors; the front, a vast pinacle or pedement, after the most ancient and almost forgotten part of the Gothick way of working; the building itself, resembles nothing so much as a great barn of three hundred feet long, and really looks like a barn at a distance.

Nay, if we view the whole building from without doors, ’tis like a great pile of something, but a stranger would be much at a loss to know what; and whether it was a house, or a church, or, indeed, a heap of churches; being huddled all together, with differing and distant roofs, some higher, some lower, some standing east and west, some north and south, and some one way, and some another.

The Abbey, or Collegiate Church of Westminster, stands next to this; a venerable old pile of building, it is indeed, but so old and weak, that had it not been taken in hand some years ago, and great cost bestowed in upholding and repairing it, we might, by this time, have called it a heap, not a pile, and not a church, but the ruins of a church.

But it begins to stand upon new legs now, and as they continue to work upon the repairs of it, the face of the whole building will, in a short while, be intirely new.

This is the repository of the British kings and nobility, and very fine monuments are here seen over the graves of our ancient monarchs; the particulars are too long to enter into here, and are so many times described by several authors, that it would be a vain repetition to enter upon it here; besides, we have by no means any room for it.

The monarchs of Great Britain are always crown’d here, even King James II. submitted to it, and to have it perform’d by a Protestant bishop. It is observable, that our kings and queens make always two solemn visits to this church, and very rarely, if ever, come here any more, viz. to be crown’d and to be buried.

Two things I must observe here, and with that I close the account of it. 1. ’Tis very remarkable, that the royal vault, in which the English royal family was laid, was filled up with Queen Ann; so that just as the family was extinct above, there was no room to have buried any more below. 2. It is become such a piece of honour to be buried in Westminster-Abbey, that the body of the church begins to be crowded with the bodies of citizens, poets, seamen, and parsons, nay, even with very mean persons, if they have but any way made themselves known in the world; so that in time, the royal ashes will be thus mingled with common dust, that it will leave no room either for king or common people, or at least not for their monuments, some of which also are rather pompously foolish, than solid and to the purpose.

Near to this church is the Royal Free-School, the best of its kind in England, not out-done either by Winchester or Eaton, for a number of eminent scholars.

The antiquities of this church, for it is very ancient, are published by two or three several authors; but are particularly to be seen in Dugdale’s Monasticon. The revenues of it were very great, and the abbot sat as a spiritual peer in the House of Lords. The revenues are still very large, and the dean is generally Bishop of Rochester; the fate of the late bishop I desire to bury with him, who is gone to oblivion. The Dean and Chapter have still great privileges as well as revenues, and particularly the civil government, or temporal jurisdiction of the city of Westminster, is so far in them, that the High-Steward and the High-Bailiff are named by them absolutely, without any reserve either to king or people. Their present High-Steward is the Earl of Arran, brother to the late Duke of Ormond, and their High-Bailiff, is William Norris, Esq.

Being got into this part of Westminster, I shall finish it as I go, that I may not return; ’Tis remarkable, that the whole city, called properly, Westminster, and standing on the S. side of the park, is but one parish, and is the only city of one parish in England. There is now another great church erected, or rather erecting, by the commissioners for building fifty new churches; but they have been strangely mistaken in the situation, which is a fenny marshy ground, and it is not found so able to support the weight as, perhaps, they were told it would; I say no more. The building was very curious, especially the roof; but the towers are not so beautiful as it is thought was intended, the foundation not being to be trusted.

The Earl of Peterborough’s house stands at the extremity of the buildings, and is the point of measurement for the length of London, which from that house to Lime-house, is reckoned seven miles and a quarter, and some rods: This house might have been a monitor for the builders of the new church, for they tell us it has sunk several yards, since it was first built, tho’ this I do not affirm.

There are” three chapels of ease to St. Margaret’s in this part of Westminster, besides that, great numbers of people go to the Abbey, so that there is no want of churches. There is but one meeting-house in this whole part, which is called Calamy’s Meeting, and was formerly supplied by Mr. Stephen Lobb, who, tho’ a Dissenter, lived and died a Jacobite.

The Cottonian Library is kept here in an ancient building, near Westminster-Hall gate; we were told it would be removed to the royal library, and then, that it would be removed to a house to be built on purpose; but we see neither yet in hand. This is one of the most valuable collections in Britain, and, the Bodleian Library excepted, is, perhaps, the best: It has in it some books and manuscripts invaluable for their antiquity; but I have not room so much as to enter upon giving an account of the particulars.

This part of Westminster has but one street, which gives it a communication with London, and this is called King-street, a long, dark, dirty and very inconvenient passage; but there seems to be no remedy for it, for most passengers get out of it through the Privy Garden, and some by private passages into the park, as at Locket’s, at the Cock-Pit, and the new gate from Queen’s -Square; but these are all upon sufferance.

From hence we come through two very handsome, tho’ ancient gates, into the open palace before White-Hall and the Banqueting-house.

Having mentioned White-Hall already, I have nothing more to say of it, but that it was, and is not, but may revive. There is, doubtless, a noble situation, fit to contain a royal palace, equal to Versailles; but I have given you my thoughts on that subject at large.

Nor can I dwell here upon a description of his majesty’s Court, or an account of the politicks managed there; it does not relate to this work; let it suffice to say, his majesty resides, especially all the winter, at St. James’s; but the business of the government, is chiefly carried on at the Cock-pit: This is a royal building, was once part of White-hall, first the Duke of Monmouth lived in it, then Prince George of Denmark and his princess, afterwards Queen Ann, and since the fire at White-Hall, the Treasury, the Secretary’s office, the Council Chamber, the Board of Trade, and the Lord Chamberlain, hold all their particular offices here; and here there is also, a by-way out of Duke-street into the park.

From thence we come to the Horse Guards, a building commodious enough, built on purpose, as a barrack for a large detachment of the Horse-Guards, who keep their post here, while attending on duty; over it are offices for payment of the troops, and a large court of judicature, for holding councils of war, for tryal of deserters and others, according to the articles of war.

In the same range of buildings, stood the Admiralty Office, built by the late King William; but tho’ in itself a spacious building, is found so much too narrow now the business is so much increased, and as there is a sufficient piece of spare ground behind it, to inlarge the building, we find a new and spacious office is now building in the same place, which shall be sufficient to all the uses required.

This office is, perhaps, of the most importance of any of the publick parts of the administration, the royal navy being the sinews of our strength, and the whole direction of it being in the hands of the commissioners for executing this office. The Navy and the Victualling Offices, are but branches of this administration, and receive their orders from hence, as likewise the docks and yards receive their orders from the navy: the whole being carried on with the most exquisite order and dispatch. The Admiralty has been in commission ever since the death of Prince George; the present commissioners are,

Right Honourable James Earl of Berkeley.
Sir John Jennings.
John Cockburn, Esq;
William Chetwynd, Esq;
Sir John Norris.
Sir Charles Wager.
Daniel Pultney, Esq;

From this part of the town, we come into the publick streets, where nothing is more remarkable than the hurries of the people; Charing-Cross is a mixture of Court and city; Man’s Coffee-house is the Exchange Alley of this part of the town, and ’tis perpetually throng’d with men of business, as the others are with men of play and pleasure.

From hence advancing a little, we see the great equestrian statue of King Charles the First in brass, a costly, but a curious piece; however, it serves sufficiently, to let us know who it is, and why erected there. The circumstances are two, he faces the place where his enemies1 triumph’d over him, and triumphs, that is, tramples in the place where his murtherers were hang’d.2

From this place due north, are the king’s stables, called the Meuse, where the king’s horses, especially his coach-horses, are kept, and the coaches of state are set up; it is a very large place, and takes up a great deal of ground, more than is made use of: It contains two large squares, besides an out-let east, where is the managerie for teaching young gentlemen to ride the great saddle; in the middle of the first court is a smith or farryer’s house and shop, a pump and horse-pond, and I see little else remarkable, but old scatter’d buildings; and, indeed, this place standing where a noble square of good buildings might be erected, I do not wonder that they talk of pulling it down, contracting the stables into less room, and building a square of good houses there, which would, indeed, be a very great improvement, and I doubt not will be done.

On the right side of the street, coming from White-Hall, is Northumberland-House, so called, because belonging to the Northumberland family for some ages; but descending to the Duke of Somerset in right of marriage, from the late dutchess, heiress of the house of Piercy.

’Tis an ancient, but a very good house, the only misfortune of its situation is, its standing too near the street; the back part of the house is more modern and beautiful than the front, and when you enter the first gate, you come into a noble square fronting the fine lodgings: Tis a large and very well design’d building, and fit to receive a retinue of one hundred in family; nor does the duke’s family come so far short of the number, as not very handsomely to fill the house.

The present duke having married the greatest heiress in Britain, and enjoy’d her and the estate for above forty years, and besides, having been master of the horse many years also, he is immensely rich, and very well merits the good fortune he has met with.

Advancing thence to the Hay-Market, we see, first, the great new theatre, a very magnificent building, and perfectly accom-

modated for the end for which it was built, tho’ the entertainment there of late, has been chiefly operas and balls.

These meetings are called BALLS, the word masquerade not being so well relished by the English, who, tho’ at first fond of the novelty, began to be sick of the thing on many accounts; However, as I cannot in justice say any thing to recommend them, and am by no means, to make this work be a satyr upon any thing; I choose to say no more; but go on.

From hence westward and northward, lie those vastly extended buildings, which add so exceedingly to the magnitude of the whole body, and of which I have already said so much: It would be a task too great for this work, to enter into a description of all the fine houses, or rather palaces of the nobility in these parts: To touch them superficially, and by halves, is too much to imitate what I complain of in others, and as I design a particular account of all the houses of the nobility and men of quality in London, and the country fifteen miles round, in a work by itself; I bespeak my readers patience, and go on.

The hospitals in and about the city of London, deserve a little further observation, especially those more remarkable for their magnitude, as,

I. Bethlem or Bedlam: This and Bridewell, indeed, go together, for though they are two several houses, yet they are incorporated together, and have the same governors; also the president, treasurer, clerk, physician and apothecary are the same; but the stewards and the revenue are different, and so are the benefactions; but to both very great.

The orders for the government of the hospital of Bethlem are exceeding good, and a remarkable instance of the good disposition of the gentlemen concerned in it, especially these that follow;

  1. That no person, except the proper officers who tend them, be allowed to see the lunaticks of a Sunday.

  2. That no person be allowed to give the lunaticks strong drink, wine, tobacco or spirits, or to sell any such thing in the hospital.

  3. That no servant of the house shall take any money given to any of the lunaticks to their own use; but that it shall be carefully kept for them till they are recovered, or laid out for them in such things as the committee approves.

  4. That no officer or servant shall beat or abuse, or offer any force to any lunatick; but on absolute necessity. The rest of the orders are for the good government of the house.

This hospital was formerly in the street now called Old Bedlam, and was very ancient and ruinous: The new building was erected at the charge of the city in 1676, and is the most beautiful structure for such a use that is in the world, and was finished from its foundation in fifteen months; it was said to be taken ill at the Court of France, that it was built after the fashion of one of the King of France’s palaces.

The number of people who are generally under cure in this hospital, is from 130 to 150 at a time.

There are great additions now making to this hospital, particularly for the relief and subsistence of incurables, of which no full account can be given, because they are not yet finished, or the full revenue ascertained: The first benefactor and author of this design itself, was Sir William Withers late alderman, and who had been lord mayor, who left 500l . to begin it with.

II. The hospital of Bridewell, as it is an hospital, so it is also a house of correction. The house was formerly the king’s city palace; but granted to the city to be in the nature of what is now called a work-house, and has been so employed, ever since the year 1555.

As idle persons, vagrants, &c. are committed to this house for correction, so there are every year, several poor lads brought up to handicraft trades, as apprentices, and of these the care is in the governors, who maintain them out of the standing revenues of the house.

There are two other Bridewells, properly so called, that is to say, houses of correction; one at Clarkenwell, called New Prison, being the particular Bridewell for the county of Middlesex, and another in Tuttle-fields, for the city of Westminster.

The other city hospitals, are the Blue-coat Hospital for poor freemens orphan children, and the two hospitals for sick and maimed people, as St. Bartholomew’s and St. Thomas’s: These three are so well known by all people that have seen the city of London, and so universally mention’d by all who have written of it, that little can be needful to add; however I shall say something as an abridgment.

III. Christ’s Hospital was originally constituted by King Edward VI. who has the honour of being the founder of it, as also of Bridewell; but the original design was, and is owing to the lord mayor and aldermen of London, and the Christian endeavours of that glorious martyr, Dr. Ridley then Bishop of London, who never ceased moving his charitable master, the king, till he brought him to join in the foundation. The design is for entertaining, educating, nourishing and bringing up the poor children of the citizens, such as, their parents being dead, or fathers, at least, have no way to be supported, but are reduced to poverty.

Of these, the hospital is now so far increased in substance, by the benefactions of worthy gentlemen contributors, they now maintain near a thousand, who have food, cloathing and instruction, useful and sufficient learning, and exceeding good discipline; and at the proper times they are put out to trades, suitable to their several genius’s and capacities, and near five thousand pounds a year are expended on this charity.

IV. St. Bartholomew’s Hospital adjoyns to Christ Church, and St. Thomas’s is in Southwark, both which, however, being the same in kind, their description may come under one head, tho’ they are, indeed, two foundations, and differently incorporated: The first founder is esteem’d to be King Henry VIII. whose statue in stone and very well done, is, for that very reason, lately erected in the new front, over the entrance to the Cloyster in West-Smithfield: The king gave 500 marks a year, towards the support of the house, which was then founded for an hundred poor sick, and the city was obliged to add 500 marks a year more to it.

From this small beginning, this hospital rose to the greatness we now see it arrived at, of which take the following account for one year, viz. 1718;

Cur’d and discharg’d, of sick, maimed and wounded, from all parts 3088
Buried at the expence of the house 198
Remaining under cure 513

V. St. Thomas’s Hospital in Southwark, has a different foundation, but to the same purpose; it is under the same government, viz. the lord mayor, aldermen and commonalty of the city of London, and had a revenue of about 2000l . per annum, about 100 years ago.

This hospital has received greater benefactions than St. Bartholomew’s; but then ’tis also said to have suffered greater losses, especially by several great fires in Southwark and elsewhere, as by the necessity of expensive buildings, which, notwithstanding the charitable gifts of divers great benefactors, has cost the hospital great sums. The state of this hospital is so advanced at this time, that in the same year as above, viz. 1718, the state of the house was as follows;

Cur’d and discharg’d, of sick, wounded and maimed, from all parts 3608
Buried at the expence of the house 216
Remaining under cure 566

Adjoining to this of St. Thomas’s, is lately laid a noble foundation of a new hospital, by the charitable gift and single endowment of one person, and, perhaps, the greatest of its kind, next to that of Button’s Hospital, that ever was founded in this nation by one person, whether private or publick, not excepting the kings themselves.

This will, I suppose, be called Guy’s Hospital, being to be built and endowed at the sole charge of one Mr. Thomas Guy, formerly a bookseller in Lombard Street, who lived to see the said hospital not only design’d, the ground purchased and cleared, but the building begun, and a considerable progress made in it, and died while these sheets were in the press. It was not till this gentleman died, that the world were told it was to be a separate hospital; but it was generally understood to have been intended for a ward, or an addition to the old hospital of St. Thomas’s, for the reception of such as were accounted incurable.

But when Mr. Guy died, his will being made publick, it appeared, that it was really a separate, independent and distinct hospital, under distinct governors, and for a separate purpose, to wit, for receiving such poor persons as have been dismissed from other hospitals as incurable.

Nor are these restrained to the patients of the adjoining hospital of St. Thomas only; but they are allowed to receive such from St. Bartholomew’s also, and also from Bethlehem, only with this restriction as to the latter, That the number of incurable lunaticks shall never exceed twenty at a time. This hospital is, by Mr. Guy’s will, to consist of two great squares of buildings, in which, besides the offices and accommodation for necessary servants and overseers, who must be lodg’d in the house, such as stewards, treasurer, masters, matrons, nurses, &c. are to be beds and appartments furnished for four hundred patients, who are all to be supplied with lodging and attendance, food and physick.

What the revenue, when settled, will be; what the building will amount to when finished; what the purchase of the land, and what the expence of finishing and furnishing it, cannot be estimated, ‘till it be further look’d into; but we are told without doors, that besides all the expence of purchase, building, furnishing and finishing as above; there will be left more than two hundred thousand pounds for endowing the hospital with a settled revenue, for maintaining the said poor, and yet the charitable founder was so immensely rich, that besides leaving four hundred pounds a year to the Blue-coat Hospital of London, and besides building an hospital for fourteen poor people at Tamworth in Staffordshire, where he was chosen representative; and besides several considerable charities which he had given in his life-time; He also gave away, in legacies, to his relations and others, above a hundred thousand pound more, among which ’tis observable, That there is a thousand pounds a piece given to near eighty several persons, most of them of his own relations; so that he cannot, as has been said by some, be said to give a great charity to the poor, and forget his own family. How Mr. Guy amass’d all this wealth, having been himself in no publick employment or office of trust, or profit, and only carrying on the trade of a bookseller, till within a few years of his death, that is not the business of this book; ’tis enough to say, he was a thriving, frugal man, who God was pleased exceedingly to bless, in whatever he set his hand to, knowing to what good purposes he laid up his gains: He was never married, and lived to be above eighty years old; so that the natural improvements of this money, by common interest, after it was first grown to a considerable bulk, greatly increased the sum.

This hospital is left to the immediate direction of his executors, and the governors, named in his will, who are at present most of them, if not all, governors of St. Thomas’s Hospital, and he has appointed them to apply to his majesty and the Parliament to have them incorporated. The executors are as follows;

Sir Gregory Page, Bart, appointed also to be first president of the corporation, when obtained.
Charles Joy, Esq; appointed also treasurer of the house.
William Clayton, Esq;
Mr. Thomas Hollis Sen.
John Kenrick, Esq;
John Lade, Esq;
Dr. Richard Mead
Moses Raper, Esq;
Mr. John Sprint.

Also he desires, That when the corporation shall be obtained as above, either by Letters Patent or Act of Parliament, all the nine persons named as above, to be his executors, with the fourteen following, may be the first committee for managing the said charity, viz.

Mr. Benj. Braine, Sen.
Mr. Thomas Clarke
William Cole, Esq;
Dr. William Crow
Dr. Francis Fanquier
Dr. Edward Hulse
Mr. Joshua Gee
Mr. Matthew Howard
Mr. Samuel Lessingham
Mr. Henry Lovell
Mr. Samuel Monk
Mr. Joseph Price
Mr. Daniel Powell
Mr. Thomas Stiles.

Next to these hospitals, whose foundations are so great and magnificent, is the work-house, or city work-house, properly so called, which being a late foundation, and founded upon meer charity, without any settled endowment, is the more remarkable, for here are a very great number of poor children taken in, and supported and maintained, fed, cloath’d, taught, and put out to trades, and that at an exceeding expence, and all this without one penny revenue.

It is established, or rather the establishment of it, is supported by an old Act of Parliament, 13, 14. Car. II. impowering the citizens to raise contributions for the charge of employing the poor, and suppressing vagrants and beggars, and it is now, by the voluntary assistance and bounty of benefactors, become so considerable, that in the year 1715 they gave the following state of the house., viz.

Vagabonds, beggars, &c. taken into the house, including fifty-five which remained at the end of the preceding year - - - - - - - - - - - - } 418
Discharged, including such as were put out to
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
} 356
Remaining in the house 62
Not one buried that whole year.

But the supplies and charities to this commendable work, have not of late come in so readily as they used to do, which has put the governors to some difficulties; upon which, anno 1614, the Common Council, by virtue of the powers above-mentioned, agreed to raise five thousand pounds upon the whole city, for the support of the house; but we do not find that any new demand has been made since that.

There are three considerable charities given by private persons in the city of Westminster, viz.

  1. The Gray-coat Hospital, founded by a generous subscription or contribution; but chiefly by the charity of one ——— Sands, Esq; It maintains 70 boys and 40 girls, cloathed, fed, and taught, and in some measure provided for, by being put out to trades.

  2. The Green-coat Hospital, in the same Fields, founded by King Charles I. for poor fatherless children of St. Margaret’s parish; and next to this hospital is the house of correction, or the Westminster Bridewell.

  3. The Emanuel Hospital, founded by the Lady Ann Dacres, for ten poor men, and ten poor women, in the forty-third year of Queen Elizabeth. Near this, are seven several setts of alms-houses; but not of any magnitude to be called hospitals. There has been, also, a very noble hospital erected by contribution of the French refugees, for the maintenance of their poor: It stands near the Pest-house, in the foot-way to Islington in the parish of Cripplegate, and two ranges of new alms-houses in Kingsland Road beyond Shoreditch Church.

The hospital calPd the Charter House, or Sutton’s Hospital, is not by this supposed to be forgot, or the honour of it lessened. On the other hand, it must be recorded for ever, to be the greatest and noblest gift that ever was given for charity, by any one man, publick or private, in this nation, since history gives us any account of things; even not the great Bishop of Norwich excepted, who built the great church of Yarmouth, the cathedral at Norwich, and the church of St. Mary’s at Lynn; The revenue of Mr. Sutton’s hospital being, besides the purchase of the place, and the building of the house, and other expences, little less than 6000/. per annum revenue.

The Royal Hospitals at Greenwich and Chelsea, are also not mentioned in this account, as not being within the reach of the most extended bounds of the city of London.

These are the principal hospitals, the rest of smaller note are touch’d before; but it will not be a useless observation, nor altogether improper to take notice of it here, That this age has produced some of the most eminent acts of publick charity, and of the greatest value, I mean from private persons, that can be found in any age within the reach of our English history, excepting only that of Sutton’s Hospital; and yet they tell us, that even that of Mr. Sutton’s is exceeded in this of Mr. Guy’s, considering that this gentleman gave a very noble gift to this same hospital before; besides that as before, he had left an hundred thousand pounds in private gifts among his own relations; as to children he had none, for he never was married.

The other benefactions, I speak of which this age had produced, are already touch’d at in this work, and may be referred to in the reading, such as Dr. Ratcliffs Gift, amounting to above forty thousand pounds to the university of Oxford: The gift of ten thousand pounds to Magdalen College in the same university, by their late representative; the several charities of Sir Robert Clayton, Alderman Ask, Sir Stephen Fox, Dr. Busby, Sir John Morden and others.

These, added to the innumerable number of alms-houses which are to be seen in almost every part of the city, make it certain, that there is no city in the world can shew the like number of charities from private hands, there being, as I am told, not less than twenty thousand people maintained of charity, besides the charities of schooling for children, and besides the collections yearly at the annual feasts of several kinds, where money is given for putting out children apprentices, &c. so that the Papists have no reason to boast, that there were greater benefactions and acts of charity to the poor given in their times, than in our Protestant times; and this is indeed, one of the principal reasons for my making mention of it in this place; for let any particular age be singled out, and let the charities of this age, that is to say, for about fifteen or twenty years past, and the sums of money bestowed by protestants in this nation on meer acts of charity to the poor, not reckoning gifts to the church, be cast up, it will appear they are greater by far, than would be found in England in any the like number of years, take the time when we will.

Nor do I conclude in this, the money collected by briefs all over England, upon casualties by fire, though that is an eminent act of charity as any can be; nor the money given either in publick or private, for re-building St. Paul’s and other churches demolished by the Fire of London, or the augmentation of poor benefices by the bounty of Queen Ann, and many other such gifts. I come now to an account of new edifices and publick buildings, erected or erecting in and about London, since the writing the foregoing account; and with this I conclude.

  1. The fine new church of St. Martin’s in the Fields, with a very fine steeple, which they tell us is 215 feet high, all wholly built by the contribution of that great parish, and finished with the utmost expedition.

  2. The new Admiralty Office near White-hall, being on the same ground where the old office stood; but much larger, being both longer in front and deeper backward, not yet finished.

  3. Mr. Guy’s new hospital for incurables, mentioned above, situated on ground purchased for that purpose, adjoyning to St. Thomas’s Hospital in Southwark, being a most magnificent building not yet quite finished.

  4. Two large wings to the hospital of Bedlam, appointed also for incurables; proposed first by the charitable disposition of Sir William Withers deceased; this also not yet finished.

  5. A large new meeting-house in Spittle-fields, for the sect of Dissenters, call’d Baptists, or Antepsedo Baptists.

  6. The South-Sea House in Threadneedle-street, the old house being intirely pulled down, and several other houses acijoyning being purchased, the whole building will be new from the foundation; this not finished.

  7. Several very fine new churches, being part of the fifty churches appointed by Act of Parliament, viz. One in Spittlefields, one in Radcliff-High-way, one in Old-street, one at Limehouse, with a very beautiful tower, and one in Bloomsbury, and five more not finished.

  8. The parish church of St. Botolph without Bishopsgate, pulled down and re-building, by the contribution of the inhabitants, not as one of the fifty churches.

    N.B. In removing the corpses buried in this church, they found the body of Sir Paul Pindar, buried there about eighty years before, which was taken up and deposited again; and we are told, a new monument will be set up for him by the parish, to which he was a good benefactor.

  9. The Custom-house, which since the late fire in Thames-street, is ordered to be inlarged; but is not yet finished. All these buildings are yet in building, and will all, in their several places, be very great ornaments to the city.

  10. A new street or range of houses taken out of the south side of the Artillery Ground near Morefields, also an enlargement to the new burying ground as it was formerly called, on the north side of the same ground.

  11. The iron ballustrade, or as others call it, balcony, on the lanthorn upon the cupola of St. Paul’s Church, gilded. It was done at the cost and as the gift of an Irish nobleman, who scarce lived to see it finished.

  12. A new bear-garden, called Figg’s Theater, being a stage for the gladiators or prize-fighters, and is built on the Tyburn Road.

    N.B. The gentlemen of the science, taking offence at its being called Tyburn Road, though it really is so, will have it called the Oxford Road; this publick edifice is fully finished, and in use.

I conclude this account of London, with mentioning something of the Account of Mortality, that is to say, the births and burials, from whence Sir William Petty thought he might make some calculations of the numbers of the inhabitants, and I shall only take notice, that whereas, the general number of the burials in the year 1666, and farther back, were from 17000 to 19000 in a year, the last yearly bill for the year 1723, amounted as follows,

Christenings 19203.
Burials 29197.

Here is to be observed, that the number of burials exceeding so much the number of births, is, because as it is not the number born, but the number christened that are set down, which is taken from the parish register; so all the children of Dissenters of every sort, Protestant, Popish and Jewish are omitted, also all the children of foreigners, French, Dutch, &c. which are baptized in their own churches, and all the children of those who are so poor, that they cannot get them registred: So that if a due estimate be made, the births may be very well supposed to exceed the burials one year with another by many thousands. It is not that I have no more to say of London, that I break off here; but that I have no room to say it, and tho’ some things may be taken notice of by others, which I have pass’d over; yet I have also taken notice of so many things which others have omitted, that I claim the ballance in my favour.

I am, SIR,

Yours, &c.

1 The statue faces the broad place before White-Hall, where the king was beheaded.

2 The gibet, where the regicides were executed, stood just where the statue now stands.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/d/defoe/daniel/britain/letter5.html

Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 11:43