Imagini ale paginilor

and the frequent fires. Moreover, almost all the bishops, abbots, and great men of England, are, in a manner, citizens and freemen of London; as they have magnificent houses there, to which they resort, spending large sums of money, whenever they are summoned thither to councils and assemblies by the king or their metropolitan, or are compelled to go there by their own business.

Of the Sports.- Let us now proceed to the sports of the city; since it is expedient that a city be not only an object of utility and importance, but also a source of pleasure and diversion. Hence, even in the seals of the chief pontiffs, up to the time of Pope Leo, there was engraved on one side of the Bull the figure of St. Peter as a fisherman, and above him a key stretched out to him, as it were from heaven, by the hand of God, and around him this verse

“ For me thou left’st thy ship, receive the key.”

On the obverse side was represented a city, with this inscription, " Golden Rome.” It was also said in praise of Augustus Cæsar and the city of Rome

“ All night it rains, the shows return with day,

Cæsar, thou bear'st with Jove alternate sway.”

London, instead of theatrical shows and scenic entertainments, has dramatic performances of a more sacred kind, either representations of the miracles which holy confessors have wrought, or of the passions and sufferings in which the constancy of martyrs was signally displayed. Moreover, to begin with the sports of the boys (for we have all been boys), annually, on the day which is called Shrovetide, the boys of the respective schools bring each a fighting cock to their master, and the whole of that forenoon is spent by the boys in seeing their cocks fight in the school-room. After dinner, all the young men of the city go out into the fields to play at the well-known game of foot-ball. The scholars belonging to the several schools have each their ball; and the city tradesmen, according to their respective crafts, have theirs. The more aged men, the fathers of the players, and the wealthy citizens, come on horseback to see the contests of the young men, with whom, after their manner, they participate, their natural heat seeming to be aroused by the sight of so much agility, and by their participation in the amusements of unrestrained youth. Every Sunday in Lent, after

[ocr errors]

dinner, a company of young men enter the fields, mounted on warlike horses

On coursers always foremost in the race;” of which

“ Each steed’s well train’d to gallop in a ring." The lay-sons of the citizens rush out of the gates in crowds, equipped with lances and shields, the younger sort with pikes from which the iron head has been taken off, and then they get up sham fights, and exercise themselves in military combat. When the king happens to be near the city, most of the courtiers attend, and the young men who form the households of the earls and barons, and have not yet attained the honour of knighthood, resort thither for the purpose of trying their skill. The hope of victory animates every one. The spirited horses neigh, their limbs tremble, they champ their bits, and, impatient of delay, cannot endure standing still. When at length

“ The charger's hoof seizes upon the course,” the young riders having been divided into companies, some pursue those that go before them without being able overtake them, whilst others throw their companions out of their course, and gallop beyond them. In the Easter holydays they play at a game resembling a naval engagement. A target is firmly fastened to the trunk of a tree which is fixed in the middle of the river, and in the prow of a boat driven along by oars and the current, stands a young man who is to strike the target with his lance; if, in hitting it, he break his lance, and keep his position unmoved, he gains his point, and attains his desire ; but if his lance be not shivered by the blow, he is tumbled into the river, and his boat passes by, driven along by its own motion. Two boats, however, are placed there, one on each side of the target, and in them a number of young men to take up the striker, when he first emerges from the stream, or when

A second time he rises from the wave.” On the bridge, and in the balconies on the banks of the river, stand the spectators,

well disposed to laugh.” During the holy days in summer the young men exercise themselves in the sports of leaping, archery, wrestling, stone-throwing, slinging javelins beyond a mark, and also fighting with bucklers. Cytherea leads the dances of the maidens, who merrily trip along the ground beneath the uprisen moon. Almost on every holyday in winter, before dinner, foaming boars, and huge-tusked hogs, intended for bacon, fight for their lives, or fat bulls or immense boars are baited with dogs! When that great marsh which washes the walls of the city on the north side is frozen over, the young men go out in crowds to divert themselves upon the ice. Some having increased their velocity by a run, placing their feet apart, and turning their bodies sideways, slide a great way: others make a seat of large pieces of ice like mill-stones, and a great number of them running before, and holding each other by the hand, draw one of their companions who is seated on the ice: if at any time they slip in moving so swiftly, all fall down headlong together. Others are more expert in their sports upon the ice; for fitting to, and binding under their feet the shin bones of some animal, and taking in their hands poles shod with iron, which at times they strike against the ice, they are carried along with as great rapidity as a bird flying, or a bolt discharged from a cross-bow. Sometimes two of the skaters having placed themselves at a great distance apart by mutual agreement, come together from opposite sides; they meet, raise their poles, and strike each other; either one or both of them fall, not without some bodily hurt: even after their fall they are carried along to a great distance from each other by the velocity of the motion; and whatever part of their heads comes in contact with the ice is laid bare to the very skull. Very frequently the leg or arm of the falling party, if he chance to light upon either of them, is broken. But youth is an age eager for glory and desirous of victory, and so young men engage in counterfeit battles, that they may conduct themselves more valiantly in real ones. Most of the citizens amuse themselves in sporting with merlins, hawks, and other birds of a like kind, and also with dogs that hunt in the woods. The citizens have the right of hunting in Middlesex, Hertfordshire, all the Chilterns, and Kent, as far as the river Cray. The Londoners, then called Trinovantes, repulsed Caius Julius Cæsar, a man who delighted to mark his path with blood. Whence Lucan says,

“ Britain he sought, but turn’d his back dismay'd." The city of London has produced some men, who have subdued many kingdoms, and even the Roman Empire; and very many others, whose virtue has exalted them to the skies, as was promised to Brutus by the oracle of Apollo :

“ Brutus, there lies beyond the Gallic bounds

An island which the western sea surrounds :


To reach this happy shore thy sails employ :
There fate decrees to raise a second Troy,
And found an empire in thy royal line,
Which time shall ne'er destroy, nor bounds confine.”

Since the planting of the Christian religion there, London has given birth to the noble Emperor Constantine, who gave the city of Rome and all the insignia of the empire to God and St. Peter, and Pope Sylvester, whose stirrup he held, and chose rather to be called defender of the holy Roman church, than emperor; and, that the peace of our lord the pope might not, by reason of his presence, be disturbed by the turmoils consequent on secular business, he withdrew from the city which he had bestowed upon our lord the pope, and built for himself the city of Byzantium. London, also, in modern times, has produced illustrious and august princes, the Empress Matilda, King Henry the Third, and St. Thomas, the archbishop and glorious martyr of Christ, than whom no man was more guileless or more devoted to all good men throughout the whole Roman world.


[The following paper was first printed in Knight's Quarterly Magazine.' It is so true, and there is such a quiet vein of humour running through it, that we cannot but regret that this is almost a solitary specimen of our friend's power as a writer. However, he has won his laurels in his own field; and, what is better, his life has been one in which his professional eminence has been principally valued by him as affording opportunity for advancing the cause of public improvement.]

“ A lawyer,” says an old comedy which I once read at the British Museum,“ is an odd sort of fruit-first rotten, then green, and then ripe.” There is too much of truth in this homely figure. The first years of a young barrister are spent, or rather worn out, in anxious




leisure. His talents rust, his temper is injured, his little patrimony wastes away, and not an attorney shows a sign of remorse. He endures term after term, and circuit after circuit, that greatest of miseriesrank above his means of supporting it. He drives round the country in a post-chaise, and marvels what Johnson found so exhilarating in its motion—that is, if he paid for it himself. He eats venison and drinks claret; but he loses the flavour of both when he reflects that his wife (for the fool is married, and married for love, too) has, perhaps, just dined for the third time on a cold neck of mutton, and has not tasted wine since their last party—an occurrence beyond even legal memory. He leaves the festive board early, and takes a solitary walk, returns to his lodgings in the twilight, and sees on his table a large white rectangular body, which for a moment he supposes may be a briefalas! it is only a napkin. He is vexed, and rings to have it removed, when up comes his clerk, drunk and insolent: he is about to kick him down stairs, but stays his foot, on calling to mind the arrear of the fellow's wages, and contents himself with wondering where the rascal finds the means for such extravagance.

Then in court many are the vexations of the briefless. The attorney is a cruel animal; as cruel as a rich coxcomb in a ball-room, who delights in exciting hopes only to disappoint them. Indeed, I have often thought the communications between solicitors and the bar has no slight resemblance to the flirtation between the sexes. Barristers, like ladies, must wait to be chosen. The slightest overture would be equally fatal to one gown as to the other. The gentlemen of the bar sit round the table in dignified composure, thinking just as little of briefs as a young lady of marriage. An attorney enters,—not an eye moves; but somehow or other the fact is known to all. Calmly the wretch draws from his pocket a brief: practice enables us to see at a glance that the tormentor has left a blank for the name of his counsel. He looks around the circle as if to choose his man; you cannot doubt but his eye rested on you-he writes a name, but you are too far off to read it, though you know every name on your circuit upside down. Now the traitor counts out the fee, and wraps it up with slow and provoking formality. At length, all being prepared, he looks towards you to catch (as you suppose) your eye.

You nod, and the brief comes flying; you pick it up, and find on it the name of a man three years your junior, who is sitting next to you; you curse the attorney's impu

« ÎnapoiContinuați »