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ter derived partly, it would seem, from a book called Recordatorium, or Liber Regum Antiquorum (one of some books bequeathed to the City in 1328 by a citizen named Andrew Horn), while, on the other hand, a considerable amount of matter was abstracted from the original Liber Custumarum, and of this 110 pages are now to be found among the Cottonian Mss. in the British Museum, bound up with what may be presumed to be the remainder of Horn's Recordatorium. Mr. Riley's history of the formation of the Guildhall volume is, we must observe, the least satisfactory part of his performance, being far from clear, and at the same time unnecessarily self-repeating. Whatever may have been the circumstances which led to this singular manipulation of the Liber Custumarum, our editor has succeeded in bringing home to Sir Robert Cotton the rather serious imputation of having coolly detained and appropriated to his own use the fragment now in the British Museum, and emblazoned with his arms the Guildhall volume, with the evident purpose of a similar appropriation; the latter was, however, returned to the City after his death, both having been merely courteous loans from the City authorities to the distinguished antiquary. Frequent were the applications of the Corporation for the return of the borrowed volumes, but Sir Robert kept possession notwithstanding ; and the lapse of time, joined to the inertness of its authorities, has now transferred from the City to the nation the ownership of a portion of its once lawful property.
The French Chronicle of London, which is the last on our list of authorities, is also taken from a Ms. in the Cottonian Library, which it is to be hoped was obtained by Sir Robert in a more legitimate manner than in the case we have just mentioned. It is written in the Norman-French, and, from the handwriting, appears to have been compiled about the middle of the fourteenth century. It embraces a period from the 44th of Henry III. to the 17th of Edward III. ; and at the commencement of each year are recorded the names of the mayors and sheriffs of London. Although there is no evidence that this Chronicle ever formed part of the muniments at Guildhall, its character places it emphatically in this category, since it supplies an interesting running commentary on the documents and ordinances of which the Liber Custumarum is made up. The editor, Mr. Aungier, much enhances the interest of the volume to the general reader by prefixing a brief but vivid sketch of London during the period traversed by the Chronicle.
The Guildhall Liber Custumarum commences with FitzStephen's Description of London* — the only copy of this work to be found among the City records. William FitzStephen was a monk of Canterbury, “born of worshipful parents in the City of London,” which place “ he loved above all other.” He lived in the reigns of Stephen and Henry II., and wrote in Latin) this account of his native city in the reign of the latter prince. He was also one of the biographers of Thomas à Becket, and died in the year 1191. A more appropriate introduction, therefore, to the records of London could not be conceived than this authentic sketch of its appearance and customs in the twelfth century, which is, indeed, the earliest detailed account of the City that we possess; and the evident pride with which the writer enumerates its glories and perfections gives to his delineation a peculiar charm and interest. He pronounces it emphatically at the very outset as “happy in its healthy air, in its Christian worship, in the strength of its fortifications, in its situation, in the honour of its citizens, and the chastity of its matrons. How joyous also," he exclaims, “is it in its recreations, and how it teems with noble men !" The air, he tells us, is mild, but not relaxing ; of its clearness he says nothing. He mentions the church of St. Paul's as the only fitting rival for metropolitan honours to that of Canterbury, and states that there are in London and the suburbs thirteen greater conventual churches, besides one hundred and twenty-six lesser parish edifices. On the east there is the “Palace (Palatine) Tower,”-our present Tower of London,- and on the west two other strong forts. The City is girt with a wall high and great, with seven gates, and with turrets at intervals on the north side ; on the south there have also been walls and towers, but the Thames -- the “ fishy Thames," as he calls it-has broken down and washed them away. Higher up, westward, on the banks of the river is the Royal Palace, “an incomparable building," with a wall before it, and bulwarks, two miles from the City, and joined to it by a populous suburb. Every where beyond the houses stretch continuously the gardens of the citizens of the suburbs, planted with trees, spacious and fair. On the north side of the City are pasture grounds, and pleasant open meadows, crossed by streams of water, on which the mill-wheels turn with a merry murmur. Close by is a vast forest, with woody-glades, where wild-beasts lurk, bucks and does, boars, and wild-bulls. Rich and fruitful, too, are the City corn-fields. There are also round the northern suburbs of London choice wells of sweet water, wholesome and clear, with their stream bubbling over the glittering pebbles; of these, Holy Well, Clerken-Well, and St. Clement's Well are of the most note, and most in fashion, being more frequented by the scholars and the youth of the City when they take the air abroad in summer evenings.
* We have availed ourselves occasionally of an old and quaint, but not always very close, translation of Fitz-Stephen in the Antiquarian Repertory.
Such is Fitz-Stephen's inviting topographical picture of the London of the first Plantagenet. We feel less trust in his statement when he assures us that it was so populous that in the wars of Stephen it could muster twenty thousand horsemen and sixty thousand footmen fit for war. So dense a population as would be implied by this proportion of adults capable of bearing arms is opposed to all reasonable estimates from other sources of information, and as all our copies of Fitz-Stephen agree in the numbers) must be set down to popular exaggeration, which finds its greatest scope in the matter of numbers.
Nothing in Fitz-Stephen's sketch is more curious than his account of the London schools. The three principal churches of London — St. Paul's, the Holy Trinity, and St. Martin's - have each their celebrated school, by privilege and ancient dignity. There are also, however, other schools, on grace and sufferance, generally by countenance of some individual, or of some teacher known and famed for learning. On feast-days the masters and their scholars assemble at the festival churches. There the scholars hold arguments, according to the formal rules of logic and rhetoric. The boys of the different schools wrangle together in verses, or canvass the principles of grammar, or the rules of the preterite and future tenses. Some, again, in epigrams, rhymes, and verses, with a railing license, freely quip their companions, and only suppressing their names, pour out upon them scurrilous jests, sparing in their dialectic wit neither the faults of their associates nor perchance of their superiors. The audience meanwhile are convulsed with laughter. Another still more extraordinary scholastic usage is mentioned by Fitz-Stephen in speaking of the sports of the City. “Moreover, to begin with the boys' schools, seeing we were all once children, yearly at Shrovetide the boys of every school bring fighting-cocks to their masters, and all the forenoon is spent at school in seeing these cocks fight together.” Such was the “schoolmaster at home" in the twelfth century.
Hospitality was rendered easy to the citizens by a public cookshop (coquina) on the banks of the river, among the wines for sale in the ships and in the wine cellars. There, “every day ye may call for any dish,—of meat, roast, fried, or sodden; fish, both small and great, grosser food for the poorer sort, and more dainty for the rich, venison and fowl. If friends come on a sudden, wearied with travel, to a citizen's house, and they are loth to wait till fresh food is bought and cooked, the servants can give them water to wash, and bread, and in the mean time run to the water-side, where all things that can be desired are at hand. Soldiers and strangers also, entering or leaving the
City at any time of day or night, can be supplied with food to any number at the same place." From some City regulations at a rather later period, it would seem that then, at any rate, this “coquina” was “in reality a cook's row, and not merely a solitary cookshop.” It may be remarked that the City regulations, “at all times during the thirteenth and two succeeding centuries, strictly forbade cooks and pie-bakers to keep hostels” or lodgings; and in the assize, after the fire of 1212, all lodging accommodation is ordered to be removed from these cookshops. “ In the fourteenth century, however, most of these cookshops had probably made way for genuine hostels and herbergeries, to be kept only by freemen, and on no account by foreigners, though we find mention made of one or two cookshops lingering on the City margin of the Thames so late as the reign of Edward III.”
The names of several of our present streets bear testimony to the truth of Fitz-Stephen's remark, that the several craftsmen, sellers of wares, and workmen were in his time “distinguished every morning by themselves in their localities as well as occupations.” The great market for horses, cattle, and rural implements, was Smithfield,—“Smethefelde,” as our author spells it,
-situated in the immediate suburb of one of the gates; a “smooth field both in name and fact.” It seems to have combined the race-course with the market, the courtiers with the citizens. Every Friday, unless some greater festival come in the way, there is a famous show of gallant horses for sale. Many come out of the City to buy or look on-earls, barons, knights, citizens. It is a pleasant sight there to behold the nags, in good condition, sleek and shining, gently walking, and their feet on either side up and down together by turns. The squires-at-arms look to those strong-limbed and of harder paces; the young unfledged nobles go by grace and outward bearing. Then comes the trial. The buyers put them through their different paces, first the slow, then the faster. If there is to be a race among them, the people give a shout, and the common hacks are ordered to go aside. They that ride are boys; three together, and sometimes two, make matches among themselves. The learned in horse-flesh (docti equis) take care that the unruly horses shall be properly curbed, and strict charge is given that one shall not anticipate the other in the start. The horses themselves are all trembling with impatience, and cannot be kept in their places. The signal given, they stretch out their limbs, burst into running, and sweep forward with eager speed. The riders, fired with the love of praise and hope of victory, urge them on with spur and with whip and with shouts. You would think every thing was in
motion, and Heraclitus, and not Zeno, in the right. Such was the “Derby” in the days of Henry Plantagenet. We have given the race very nearly in the narrator's own words, and are afraid that we must plead guilty to a considerable taste for “the turf” on the part of the worthy monk of Canterbury. In another part of Smithfield stand the country-people with their field-produce— cattle, pigs, and sheep. Here are also cart, plough, and chariot horses, and mares with their colts. To London, continues our author, come merchant-ships from every country under heaven. From Norway and Russia come furs and sables; from France, wine. But the Londoners are not absorbed in commerce. They
ho Londoners are not absorbed in commerce Ther give up plenty of time to amusements, and they have them in no small variety. It is Fitz-Stephen's own opinion that it is not expedient that a city should be only utilitarian and serious (utilis et seria), but that it should also be agreeable and joyous. To begin with, there are the Miracle-Plays, and the Plays of the Passions of the Holy Martyrs. We have spoken already of the cock-fight, which appears to have been confined to the school-boys and their learned instructors. After dinner, all the youth of the City go to play at ball in the fields. The scholars of every study have their own balls, and the practisers of all the trades have every one their ball in their hands. The elders, fathers, and wealthy citizens come on horseback to see these youngsters contending at their sport. Every Sunday in Lent, after dinner, a company of young men ride out into the fields, and every one of them is taught to run the rounds with his horse. The citizens' sons sally out through the gates in troops, furnished with lances and shields, and the younger sort with headless pikes, and a sham battle takes place. There resort to this exercise many courtiers, when the king lodges in the neighbourhood, and young striplings out of the families of barons and great persons, to train and skirmish. The intercourse between all classes of the community thus implied is confirmed by Fitz-Stephen elsewhere. Almost all bishops, abbots, and noblemen of England, he says, are sort of citizens and freemen of London. There they have fair dwellings, and thither they often resort, and lay out a great deal of money; and are called into the City for consultations and solemn meetings, either by the king or their metropolitan, or drawn by their own business.
To continue with our author's account of “merry London.” In the Easter holidays they counterfeit a sea-fight; but our readers must be familiar with the water-quintain. All the summer, on holidays, the youths are exercised in leaping, shooting with the bow, wrestling, casting of stones, and throwing of