« PreviousContinue »
of any Court of justice, whether Justice, Clerk, Sergeant-Countor, Attorney, or Apprentice, 'or steward of a high man, or of any other, should take in hand, or maintain any plea “to champerty,' they nevertheless were in the habit both of taking to champerty,* and upon other bargains from all folks in all the Courts; in consequence whereof, the people had been often maltreated, disinherited, and ruined, through such maintainers and by their doings. To put an end to this, the King, by assent of the great lords of the land, and by advice of his Council,' ordained and established, that all those who from thenceforth should be attainted of such undertakings, suits, and bargains, should have an imprisonment of three years, and then pay a fine at the royal pleasure."
The jealousy and animosity displayed by the City in all its ordinances and regulations with respect to the neighbouring borough of Southwark is very amusing and instructive. The fact that an independent jurisdiction existed in this quarter seems to have disturbed the imaginations of the civic dignitaries to such an extent that they went very far towards rendering the borough an actual nuisance, by the measures which they adopted for branding it and all belonging to it with the stigma of a lower caste. All dealers who came from Southwark were treated as presumptive rogues and cozeners, and every obstacle seems to have been put in the way of intercourse between the two sides of the River. The boatmen were forbidden to stay on that side after depositing their fares; and it is evident that a visit in that quarter was considered a very ambiguous proceeding, which required explanation on the part of any respectable citizen. And there was some reason for this suspicion, inasmuch as the City authorities expressly limited to Southwark all such social nuisances as were insupportable under their own immediate eyes. This antagonism between the City and Southwark was, we gather from other sources, quite mutual; as, on not a few occasions, the citizens found, to their cost, when a hostile force obtained entrance and a ready welcome to their very portals. When, for example, the army of Fairfax marched against the Presbyterian Corporation of London in the Civil War of the seventeenth century, the first to welcome them and forward their entrance into London were the inhabitants of the hated borough of Southwark.
Our rapid sketch of old-London life would be incomplete in one of its most important features if we did not allude, however briefly, to the position of the foreign merchants and foreigners who inhabited and visited the City during this period. “For
i.e. on the understanding of having part of the land, the subject of the suit.
many centuries the enterprising foreigner who ventured to visit this country for the purposes of traffic had to struggle against numerous discouragements and grievous restrictions, originating partly in the avarice of the English sovereigns and the insolence and rapacity of their officers, and, to a still greater extent, in the jealousy entertained towards them by the English population, the freemen of the cities and towns more especially.” A foreigner was looked upon in the City of London almost with as much suspicion as a Southwarker, both alike being regarded as bent solely on depriving the honourable dealer of his fair gains by dishonest and illegal competition. So late as the reign of Queen Mary, a foreigner bitterly complains of the rude conduct of the Londoners, and townspeople of England generally, who followed him in crowds, calling out, as he expresses it, “ France dogue !” “France chenesve” (knave)! And at an earlier period this feeling must have prevailed to a much greater extent and in a higher class of society. “So early, however, as the time of Ethelred II. (about A.D. 1000) some brief regulations were framed, if not for the encouragement of foreigners, at least for their protection.” The merchants thus protected are described in this document under the names of the men of France and Normandy, the people of Rouen, the merchants of Flanders, the inhabitants of Liège and of Lier (in Brabant), and the “emperor's men,” called first “Easterlings," and then by the aggregate title of the “Merchants of the Hanse of Almaine.” On this document were probably based the “Regulations for the Lorraine Merchants,” found in the Liber Custumarum, which belong, it would seem, to the first half of the thirteenth century. Every year, we learn from these “Regulations,” a winefleet was in the habit of visiting this country. These were no doubt the ships to the wine sold in which reference is made by Fitz-Stephen. When the fleet reached the City limits at the “New Wear,” in the vicinity of the present Yantlet Creek, they were bound “to arrange themselves in due order and raise their ensign, the crews being at liberty, if so inclined, to sing their 'kiriele,' or song of praise and thanksgiving, 'according to the old law,' until London Bridge was reached.” The drawbridge being raised, they were to remain moored off a hythe or landing-place (probably Queen Hythe), until the king's officers had first made their purchases for his use. The next purchasers came in due priority; those of London first, those of Winchester next. From this time the Lorraine merchant fell under the operation of a variety of stringent restrictions as to his movements and his residence. He was bound also, unless prevented by contrary winds, sickness, or debt, to leave London within forty days. Other foreign merchants were more favoured. The "em
city of Copeen the two citologne merchabut we
peror's men” were allowed to lodge where they pleased, with the exception of the inhabitants of Tiesle (Thiel in Guelderland), and Brune (probably Brurren, in the same country), who had given some cause of grave offence, perhaps explained by the prohibition to the men of Antwerp to go beyond London Bridge, “in case they should object to be ruled by London law.” The natives of Denmark, however, were most favoured, being allowed to reside in the City the whole year, “with a right to all the benefits of the law of the City of London.” The Norwegians had the former, but not the latter privilege. Special privileges also were sometimes granted by express conventions, as in the case of that concluded in 1237 between the citizens of London and the merchants of Amiens, Corby, and Nesle. The city of Cologne had certain privileges for its merchants, the trade between the two cities being one of early date and considerable extent; and the Cologne merchants, we find, had a guildhall in London belonging to them. But we should form from these specially privileged bodies of foreigners a very erroneous idea of the treatment pursued towards foreign merchants generally. Take for instance the woad-merchants, chiefly from Picardy and Normandy, who met with a sorry measure of justice.
"On their arrival the merchants are reminded that it is their duty to place their woad upon the quay, and that they may enclose it with hurdles and hatches, if they think proper, but upon no account are they to stow it in houses or in cellars. Here they were to sell it, or give it in exchange for other merchandise, – but only to men of the City, and to no one else, and that by reasonable and ancient measure of the City.' Nor ought they too, nor might they, buy any thing of foreigners, but only of men of the City, for exportation beyond sea ; nor might they leave the City for the purpose of visiting any fair, or for going to any other place for the purposes of traffic. If found to be on the road to such a place, and proceeding towards a fair, all their chattels were to be forfeited,—seeing that all their buying and selling ought to take place within the City, and that only with the men of the City.
Even more than this. The said merchants might not, nor ought they to, stay within the City more than forty days ;' at the end of which, they were to return to their own country, or else—to some other place beyond sea, at as great a distance as the place from which they came.' To fill up the measure of the woad-merchant's difficulties, the 'foreigner' (foraneus) was also to take care that within such forty days he had sold or exchanged the whole of his wares, without holding back any part thereof,—seeing that when such term shall have expired, and it shall be his duty to depart, he may not hand over any part of his wares to his host, or to any other person, nor may he carry them away with him. But let him see that within the time limited be makes sale of the same, as well as he can ; for if any part thereof shall
be found after the time limited unto him, it shall be wholly lost.' In the trade of dyeing cloth, on no account were these merchants to interfere." As Mr. Riley observes, the profits of these merchants must have been very large to induce them to encounter such a re
cept it is pleasant, merchants kep which the vect the
aparonse, and the Lady Society, urter
It is pleasant, however, to find that under all these restrictions the foreign merchants kept a good heart, and had their meetings of good-fellowship, in which the vexations and suspicions to which they were subjected were for the time forgotten. Such merry-makings would, indeed, tend to corroborate our view of the general happiness of the citizens of London under their comparatively light fetters. At the close of the thirteenth or beginning of the fourteenth century, we find established in London “a Society, or brotherhood, of the Pui, in honour of God, our Lady Saint Mary, and all Saints, both male and female, and in honour of our lord the King, and all the Barons of the country; and for the increasing of loyal love, and to the end that mirthfulness, peace, uprightness, gaiety, and good love may be maintained.” The title of the society was derived from the city of Le Puy en Velay in Auvergne. Societies of this nature flourished extensively in Picardy and Normandy; but nowhere, says the most recent historian of the confréries of Notre Dame du Puy, does there exist so ancient and full an account of their regulations as in the document preserved in the Guildhall Liber Custumarum, which contains the rules of the London society. Its members were mostly foreigners, but a few natives of the realm were admitted. How and when it arose, and how and when it came to an end, are equally unknown. Mr. Riley conjectures that it received its deathblow in the French wars of Edward III. There was a “prince" of the society yearly elected; a reward for the best songs, or “ ballads-royal ;" a grand feast every year, the residue of the food going to the prisoners at Newgate and the City poor; and a dance at the new prince's house, after solemnly escorting him home; “which ended, they are to take one drink and depart, each to his own house and all on foot." It is curious to trace strong resemblances between these festive regulations and those of a branch fraternity of the Pepperers of London,—the ances. tors of the “Company of Grocers,”—and to observe a relic of these ancient civic feasts in the silver crowns, chaplets, and garlands with which the master and wardens of some of the City companies are still crowned on hall-days.
Such, then, are a few of the characteristics of Old London in the days of the earlier Plantagenets; or rather the skeleton of its past existence, disinterred from the catacombs of the
companies awhich the maste the silver crolu to observe the ances
Guildhall records. We may gain from this some idea of its outward organisation, and of the spirit in which that organisation was created; but it is vain for us to hope to obtain any but the most faint and imperfect impression of the spirit in which these institutions were really worked, and of what it actually was to live the daily life of a citizen of Old London. Our inferences and our conjectures may be plausible, but the substantial fact still evades our grasp. Old London, with its privileges and its grievances, its narrow and exclusive policy in some things, and its free independent spirit in others; its cherished feuds and its red-letter days; its ideas of happiness and its standard of evil and misery,lies, after all, buried under the centuries along with the Henries and the Edwards, against whose tyranny it successfully struggled, and under whose politic favour it laid the foundation of its extraordinary reputation.
Art. IX.-WILLIAM PITT.
Life of the Right Honourable William Pitt. By Earl Stanhope,
Author of the “History of England from the Peace of Utrecht."
LORD STANHOPE's Life of Mr. Pitt has both the excellencies and the defects which we should expect from him, and neither of them are what we expect in a great historical writer of the present age. Even simple readers are becoming aware that historical investigation, which used to be a sombre and respectable calling, is now an audacious pursuit. Paradoxes are very bold and very numerous. Many of the recognised “good people” in history have become bad, and all the very bad people have become rather good. We have palliations of Tiberius, eulogies on Henry VIII., devotional exercises to Cromwell, and fulsome adulation of Julius Cæsar and of the first Napoleon. The philosophy of history is more alarming still. One school sees in it but a gradual development of atheistic belief, another threatens to resolve it all into “the three simple agencies, starch, fibrin, and albumen." But in these exploits of audacious ingenuity and specious learning Lord Stanhope has taken no part. He is not anxious to be original. He travels, if possible, in the worn track of previous historians; he tells a plain tale in an easy plain way; he shrinks from wonderful novelties; with the cautious scepticism of true common sense ; he is always glad to find that the conclusions at which he arrives coincide with those of former inquirers. His style is charac