London, Volume 6

Knight, Charles


CXLVI. Military London.

CXLVI. Military London.




There are few pleasanter occupations than that of wandering about among the localities which the chroniclers of Old London have made memorable, or which derive still higher interest from the great men who--have been born, who have lived, or who have died in them. The metropolis is wonderfully rich in such associations; every district, almost every street, lane, or alley, has its own separate story; and many of those persons who hurry from clime to clime in search of amusement and instruction from turning over the decayed debris--as though they were so many pages of the history-of--the past, might be surprised, on investigation, to find how much they had left unnoticed within a few paces of their own fireside. Wandering the other day, with some such thoughts as these floating through the mind, we found ourselves in , upon the very spot that, centuries ago, formed a vast lake, and which, when frozen over in winter, was the resort of all the sledgers and skaters of the metropolis; the sledge of the being a large cake of ice, the skate of the other the leg-bone of some animal, with which, if they could not rival the quadrille parties of the Parks in the century, they at all events managed to progress with such speed, that Fitz-Stephen likens their velocity to the flight of a bird, or a bolt discharged from a cross-bow. Poor Fitz-Stephen's shade would be somewhat bewildered could it be shown now, and told that that was the spot he so graphically


described. But beyond the change has been no less comprehensive. As we strolled on, recollections of Finsbury Fields and the Archers' Butts, with their quaint names, each a trophy of some wondrous feat in the art, rose to the mind; but, on looking round, no sight nor sound was there to intimate even the possibility of such things having ever happened there; the very solemnlooking mansions of alone met the eye, and the only noticeable recollection suggested by them was of anything but an harmonious nature,-- Lackington, the bookseller, and the statue which the inhabitants would let him erect in the centre of the square, when he was so kind as to offer ofhimself. Still, passing on northwards towards Bunhill Fields, we thought of the spot where the author of the lies buried; and of Milton, blind, sitting by the door, warming himself in the blessed sunshine, and answering every heavenly influence in tones of grander harmony than ever swelled from the fabled Memnon's breast; in a house in Artillery Walk was

Paradise Lost

written, and there the sublime author died. But whilst thus

Chewing the food of sweet and bitter fancy

we were interrupted; surely, thought we, that was a volley of musketry; yes, again it came; we looked in the direction of the sound, and the gates of the Artillery Company met our gaze; so then it was the remnant of that once famous body of citizens that we heard, still exercising with unfaltering resolution! No longer praised, but still exercising; no longer in reality wanted, but still exercising; their occupation, like Othello's, might be gone, but it was something to show that they had such an occupation, so there they were still exercising. There was something in the very constancy of such attachment that smote us forcibly, and as again the volley came, what with our admiration in direction, and what with our impression in another that we had heard better firing, we found ourselves half unconsciously imitating the Frenchman's enthusiasm and honesty-Magnifique! Superbe! By Gar, it pretty well! And as this feeling passed off, and we began to recall, incident by incident, the military glories of London, and to reflect how large a share of them was directly owing to the men of the Artillery Garden, those sounds did seem an extraordinary and mostsignificant illustration of the progress of civilization, of peace, and generally of juster ideas and habits; we could not for the life of us resist the impression that they were a kind of military farewell to the departed; a portion of the funeral ceremony performed by the last representatives of the warriors of ancient London, the heirs to all their reputation. To be sure they need not repeat the ceremony every Thursday in order to convince the world of their respect and reverence; but what harm is there in so doing? Nothing can be more innocent than the volleys here, unless it be the intentions of those who fire them. And the neighbourhood would have a right to look for compensation, if they were deprived of their accustomed opportunities of unbending bows, strained somewhat severely by the harshnesses of business, by losing the exhibition of the little facetiae of the Artillery Garden. Yet, if now such exhibitions have necessarily dwindled away till few things can be smaller, there are, on the other hand, few, if any, municipal military histories grander than that with which the Artillery Company has been so closely and honourably identified.



The earliest noticeable event recorded, that gives us a glimpse of the prowess of the citizens, has a double value, inasmuch as it gives us also a charming trait in the character of the noblest of British monarchs, Alfred. When the Danish chief, Hastings, was roaming with his followers like a pack of hungry wolves over the country, pillaging where they could pillage, and destroying where they could not, his wife and sons were left in the Castle of Benfleet, in Essex, then in his possession. Partly, perhaps, with the hope of making a diversion in Alfred's favour, and partly, perhaps, tempted by the value of such captives if they could obtain them, Ethelred, Alfred's son-in-law and eolderman of the Mercians, led a body of London citizens and others against the Castle, stormed, and took it : then returned to the metropolis with the prisoners and an immense booty of gold and silver, horses, arms, and garments. When Alfred reached London, the wife and the sons were presented to him, and he was advised to put them to death; Alfred's answer was, to load them with presents, and send them back to the husband and father. The bravery which this little story implies was still more decidedly shown in the reign of Ethelred the Unready, when the citizens repeatedly drove back the Danes from their walls; and, again, in the short sovereignty of Edmund Ironside, when they thrice repelled Canute and all his host; and, perhaps more conspicuously still, in the Conqueror's marked hesitation in entering London, after the battle of Hastings and death of Harold; nay, he did not venture at last within the walls till the clergy and nobles had betrayed the national cause, and made opposition on the part of the City useless. Such even from the earliest period was Military London.

We may judge, then, that the influence of London on all occasions of great importance, such as the struggles of rival parties, or of rival sovereigns, was great; the facts show that in numerous cases it was decisive; Henry I. may be said to have owed his crown to the support of the London citizens; so also Stephen; whilst John, at the last moment, was forced into the solemn recognition of Magna Charta by the adhesion of London to the Barons, then advancing with a powerful army. There are some features connected with the metropolitan support of Stephen too interesting to be passed over. Just when Matilda had succeeded, through the flattering promises of her brother, the Earl of Gloucester, in obtaining the tacit support of the Londoners, so far as to induce her to enter London and prepare for her coronation, and when she began to think herself strong enough to refuse to fulfil those promises, with something like contempt for the petitioners, there appeared day about noon, on the feast of St. John the Baptist, a body of horse on the other side of the river immediately opposite the City. They bore the banner of Queen Maud, Stephen's wife. The church bells rang throughout the City, and, as though prepared for the event, the people rushed instantly to arms; from every house, we are told, at least man went forth with whatever weapon he could lay hand on; like bees issuing from their hives they gathered in the streets. The ominous sounds reached Matilda as she sat at table: she rose, mounted the horse that was brought, and galloped off just in time to escape being made prisoner. Before she had well cleared the western suburb, the people were pillaging and destroying in her apartments. From that time till the final arrangement which gave her son the succession to the crown, and left Stephen himself while he lived in peaceable


possession of it, neither Matilda nor any of her partizans again were seen in London. During the contention between Henry III. and the Barons, and Edward II. and the same (to royalty) troublesome body, the efforts of the citizens on the popular side were scarcely less memorable; and when, during the rule of Edward III.,


disappeared, they distinguished themselves no less zealously by their support of that monarch in his French wars; now responding to his call upon those

strong in body

to use in their recreations bows and arrows, or pellets and bolts, and learn and exercise the art of shooting; now giving him practical proof of their progress by supplying him with a men-at-arms, horses and accoutrements, all complete, and armed foot soldiers; now, to finish the whole handsomely, lending him individually or collectively sums of money: Simon de Frauncis, in , lent , while in the Companies raised for him , worth probably to him times its nominal value to us.

But let us here look a little closer into Military London itself; and suppose, , we glance at or specimens of the military citizen. Here is , the son of a country tanner, apprenticed in London to a tailor, subsequently pressed into the army, and there finding himself very much at home, staying in it to please himself when no longer obliged to do so to please others. Not merely his own country, but his own country's wars, are insufficient for his expansive genius. His brother Merchant Tailors at home hear year that he is famous in France, the next in Italy, the next in Florence, the next in Pisa. At last, indeed, they learn that he has set up the business of warrior on his own account; that he has, in short, become captain of of those bands known as Condottieri, who let themselves out for hire to any king, prince, or duke that wants them.

But he is no vulgar freebooter; he marries the niece of the Duke of Milan, and then fights him, and at last dies in Florence with the character of the best soldier of his age, and has a sumptuous monument erected to his memory. So much for Sir John H-awkwood, Merchant Tailor. Contemporary with him was there living John Mercer, also a freebooter, but who managed his trade so badly as to be called what he was. This Mercer, encouraged by the feeble grasp with which the youthful Richard held the affairs of the nation, preyed upon the English mercantile navy, carrying off many rich prizes, and on occasion sweep; ing out the entire shipping from the harbour of Scarborough: this was in .

Of course there was great outcry among the merchants, who complained to the government, and were promised redress. More ships were seized, more complaints made, more promises given, and kept as before. Then quietly stepped forward John Philpot, a distinguished citizen, fitted out at his own expense and risk a strong fleet, put on board a armed men, and then stepped in after them himself as their commander. The pirate was soon met, flushed with success, a goodly train of captured ships about him, among them no less than Spanish vessels richly laden. A long and desperate fight ensued, which ended in the capture of the pirate with most of his ships. Of course all this was unendurable at court. John Philpot was summoned to explain what he meant by his presumption and conceit in dealing with grievances in this summary fashion; but Philpot was as able to speak as to fight, and modest withal; so that the great benefactor of his day succeeded in obtaining--an acquittal!


with the understanding, however, may presume, that he was to put down no more pirates. In many other ways did this noble specimen of military London distinguish himself. He was, says Fuller,

the scourge of the Scots, the fright of the French, the delight of the Commons, the darling of the merchants, and [not the least of his merits] the hated of some envious lords,

for whom John Philpot, no doubt, was much too patriotic. Our and last specimen of the citizen soldier of the century is Sir William , the man whose decision at a most critical moment broke to pieces in an instant the most formidable class insurrection that England has ever seen. King Richard, with his retinue of barons, knights, the Lord Mayor, and other city magistrates, in all not exceeding persons, met the vast body of the rioters, headed by Wat Tyler, in Smithfield, who came thither at the King's invitation, forwarded by Sir John Newton, who, having pressed the Tyler to hasten, was told he might go and tell his master he would come when he thought proper. As soon as Wat Tyler saw the King he set spurs to his horse, and rode up with the abrupt salutation,

Sir King, seest thou all yonder people?


Yea, truly,

was the reply:

herefore sayest thou so?



returned he,

they be all at my command, and have sworn to me their faith and truth to do all that I would have them.

In good time I believe it well,

said the King.


continued Wat Tyler,

believe thou, King, that these people, and as many more as be in London at my command, will depart from thee thus, without having thy letters?



replied Richard;

ye shall have them, they be ordained for you, and shall be delivered to every


of them.

At that moment it seems the Sir John Newton before mentioned, who had probably offended the people's leader by his bearing, caught his eye, as he sat on horseback carrying the King's sword; upon which he was told it would better become him to be on foot in his (the speaker's) presence. Sir John remarked that he saw no harm in that; when the infuriated Tyler, intoxicated with the obedience that had been hitherto paid to him, drew his dagger, and called Sir John Newton a traitor, who flung back the lie in his teeth, and drew his dagger also. Wat Tyler then demanded from him the sword he bore.


said the knight,

it is the King's sword, of which thou art not worthy; neither durst thou ask it of me if we had been by ourselves.

Wat would then have rushed upon him, but the King caused Sir John to dismount. This furnishes a pretty fair example of the spirit in which the advocate of the people's wrongs, which were undoubtedly real enough, was prepared to seek their redress: at the same time, it is to be observed, he was an utterly uneducated man, raised suddenly to his position by over-controlling circumstances, and therefbre utterly unfit for it. In the conference that ensued, his personal behaviour seems to have grown more and more intolerable, and to have suggested to the minds of those about the King the idea of a bold attempt to put a stop to the whole business by arresting him. Richard, with some reluctance, consented to so fearful an experiment, which he confided to the care of the mayor, Sir William , who, being no sheriff's officer, went about the arrest in the most characteristic manner, commencing with a blow from his sword that wounded Wat Tyler dangerously; and, as he turned to rejoin his men, Ralph Standish, of the King's esquires, ran him through the body,

so that he fell flat on his back to the ground, and, beating with his hands to and fro for a while, gave up his

unhappy ghost.

It was an awful success. The men of Kent cried out they were betrayed, and bent their bows for the indiscriminate slaughter of the royal party; when Richard, as though putting into act the entire resolution of a lifetime (for he was, indeed, weak afterwards), galloped fearlessly towards them, exclaiming,

What are ye doing, my lieges? Tyler was a traitor: I am your IKing, and I will be your captain and guide.

Insurrectionists, like women, are generally lost when they hesitate: these hesitated now, and, whilst they were hesitating, the Iing rode back to Sir William for counsel.

Make for the fields,

was the prompt answer:

if we attempt to retreat or flee, our ruin is certain; but let us gain a little time, and we shall be assisted by our good friends in the City, who are preparing and arming with all their servants.

The King obeyed, and rode off, followed by the greater part of the people, towards ; whilst Sir William hurried into the city for succour, where a of the citizens, armed, had been waiting in the streets for some knight to lead them, lest coming out of order they might easily be broken (a noticeable proof of their sense of the value of military discipline), when, by chance, Sir Robert Knowles passing by, they requested him to lead them, which, with the assistance of other knights, he did. As soon as the host that had followed Wat Tyler beheld them, they were struck with a sudden panic. Some ran away through the corn-fields, and the rest threw down their arms, and begged for pardon; which Richard, who could be kind only to be cruel, not only granted, but also with it a charter of manumission; and so the people dispersed to their homes. Soon after Richard found himself at the head of men, whilst the strength of the insurrection had completely melted away. That was the time to show what he really meant; so the villeins were informed their charters of freedom meant nothing; and then began the executions with all their horrors. To that time it is supposed we owe the worse than savage custom, only so lately disused among us, of hanging in chains, which was done to prevent friends from carrying away the dead bodies. We need hardly add to this notice of Wat Tyler and his insurrection, that the dagger in the City arms is supposed to have been derived from this event. was knighted by Richard, as were other aldermen, among whom was Philpot, who was, therefore, evidently among the King's retinue during the day. Richard,/in addition, granted fee-farms to the whole, worth, in Walworth's case, a a-year, and in each of the others a-year.

From the leaders of the citizens, we now turn to the conduct of the citizens themselves, as shown in another insurrection of a scarcely less memorable character in the following century, Jack Cade's. There is little doubt that in all the large towns and cities, those nuclei of the more liberal opinions of the age, the wrongs on which the insurrection was based were pretty generally acknowledged, and therefore the attempt at remedy sympathised with. As a proof, Cade was received by the citizens of the metropolis in a friendly spirit, and entertained by some of the more eminent of them with great hospitality; which he returned by robbing the entertainers. The houses of Malpas, an alderman, and Gerstie, were, it appears, both spoiled by him, as an after-dinner amusement. That the citizens generally might be left in no doubt as to the character of their guest, many of them were obliged to pay heavy fines for the safety of their lives


and goods, which, after all, were found to be anything but safe. The citizens now determined to show Jack Cade that if he thought they had been frightened into admitting him, he was labouring under a great mistake. His head-quarters were in , where he was accustomed to retire after the agreeable proceedings of the day in investigating the truth of the popular notion as to the wealth of London. Lord Scales then held the Tower for the King, Henry VI. to him the citizens sent secretly for a leader, and presently of the ablest soldiers of the time, the veteran Matthew Gough, was among them. It was then Sunday night. Silently, towards and over the old Bridge, now poured the dense array of the citizens, with the determination to keep the passage against all the multitudes encamped on the other side of the water. Part of the bridge-way, we may observe, lay over a drawbridge situated near the extremity; but the machinery had been previously destroyed by Cade, when he entered London, so that it could not be used. Quietly as these arrangements had been made, and little as the insurgents anticipated any such opposition to their reentry, the news reached them or hours after midnight, and without a moment's loss of time they seized their arms and hurried to the Bridge, headed by Cade himself. And now began a desperate fight. The shock of the advancing assailants was tremendous, but firmly met, and resisted; every step gained was dearly paid for; the mass of combatants heaved to and fro, scarcely knowing friend from enemy in the terrible darkness, but each man striking and pressing forwards through the opposing multitude. And strangely shifted the chances of the battle from side to side; now were the assailants up to the very drawbridge on side, presently again they were retreating beyond the


into on the other; where Gough, who was praying earnestly for the day to come, kept the citizens from following them, seeing how gallantly the insurgents fought, how numerous their numbers, and the consequent danger of their out-manoeuvring, or even altogether overwhelming, his little band of civic heroes in the darkness. And as hour after hour advanced, fiercer and fiercer grew the fight. At last, in united and perfectly irresistible stream, the men of Kent forced those of London back-step by step--it was like moving a mountain-but still back--to the drawbridge; but there the citizens, redoubling their energies, kept them awhile at bay ;-- leader after another fell-Matthew Gough himself was seen to drop dead; then back further still they were driven; and the insurgents began to fire the houses on the Bridge, where men, women, and children were stifled in the smoke, or burnt in the flames, killed by the sword as they rushed out by the doors, or drowned as they leapt from the windows, their cries of agony swelling and sharpening the hoarser clamour of the combatants. Still back the citizens were irresistibly impelled, till the very extremity of the Bridge was reached; a moment more and London had been given up to pillage and sack, and all the worst horrors that ever scourged or disgraced humanity when, despair itself lending new strength, the tide was at length arrested, then rolled back, in its turn, to its source;--the heroic citizens were again masters of the Bridge. For hours did this memorable engagement last, during which nearly all that we have described was repeated over and over again, and with great loss of life on both sides, till both parties growing faint and weary, a cessation of hostilities took place at in the morning, on the understanding that


the men of Kent were not to come into the City, nor tle men of London to go into . Excellent citizens! they not only beat their adversaries with their hands, but with their heads. This was truly reciprocity all on sidegiving the Londoners exactly what they had fought for. But we suppose it sounded well, that agreement not to go over into , so there the matter ended. The old game of promising, without the intention of performing, was then again successfully tried by the government; the insurgents became divided among themselves, and--a prey. We need not follow their fate further.

And now for a Military Gala-day; with a few words on the Martial exercises of old Military London. During the reign of Henry VIII. the names of all the male population Qf the City, between the ages of and , were registered and accounts taken of their


and weapons of war, and a general muster or review took place before the King. And truly the exhibition must have been in the highest degree picturesque and splendid. The number of the armed citizens is not mentioned, but it must have been very large (we read of on another and later occasion in the same reign), and these were all arrayed in white harness, or armour, white coats and breeches, white caps and feathers. Their chief officers, the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, Recorder, and Sheriffs, were still more sumptuously adorned. These too had their white harness; but over that they wore coats of black velvet, embroidered (probably in silver) with the arms of the City. They had also black velvet caps on their heads, and gilt battle-axes --no toys with such men--in their hands. Each wore a gold chain of great weight and price. Their horses were caparisoned in the richest manner. Following each Alderman and the Recorder were halbertiers, in white silk or buff coats, and carrying gilt halberts; whilst the Lord Mayor's attendants formed a troop alone, dressed in crimson velvet and cloth of gold. came his pages, riding on beautiful horses, their superb trappings almost sweeping the ground; of these carried the helmet, the other the pole-axe, both richly gilded. Then came footmen, dressed from head to foot in white satin; and lastly attendants, all picked men, gorgeously habited in white satin doublets, caps and feathers, chains of gold, and bearing long gilt halberts. As the framework to this rich picture, there were the King and his nobles, magnificent of course, and the great body of citizens not engaged in the armed array, most of the wealthier among them clad in white satin, or white silk coats, wearing chains of gold, and in some cases rich jewels. This muster took place in . As to the mode and principles of training, we have already incidentally seen that the citizens were accustomed to rely on orderly array as of the grand essentials. In minor details the exercises in use toward the close of the century appear to have been of a very complex and, considering the weight of the armour worn during them--back and breast plate, scull-cap, sword and musket, and bandoliers,--a very arduous character. The ponderous matchlock of the time could only be loaded, primed, and fired during the performance of a long series of manoeuvres. To accustom the new recruit to the recoil of his piece, and to give him gradual confidence in the use of it, at a little powder only was flashed in the pan. As the use of wadding to keep in the ball was not yet understood, he could only fire usefully breast high; and this he was taught to do in the act of advancing, lest he should himself be marked out by the enemy


while taking aim. The pike was a most. formidable weapon, of pliant ash, some feet long, and required continual practice in order to be used with anything like skill or effect.

In the year we hear of the Artillery Company. The time was of great excitement: the Spanish Armada was then hanging like a vast cloud over the political horizon, and all men's minds were earnestly discussing how they might best avert the danger. Foremost ever at such times, the Londoners now surpassed all their former doings. Among the merchants there were many able soldiers who had served abroad; these seem to have led the way in the formation of an association of citizens of similar rank, who submitted themselves voluntarily to continual exercise and study of the theory and practice of war, with the view of being able to train and command on emergencies large bodies of their fellow-citizens. Within the years they numbered above members,

very sufficient and skilful to train and teach common soldiers the managing of their pieces, pikes, and halberts, to march, countermarch, and ring.

A pleasant evidence of the spirit in which they congregated is given by their custom of letting every man serve by turns every office, from the corporal's up to the captain's. And as the Armada grew more and more a reality, every month bringing fresh news of its advancing state, plenty of work was found for these merchants of the Artillery Company. The City furnished no less than men for the public defence, who were officered chiefly by the civic authorities and the captains of the Artillery Garden; and the government exhibited its appreciatiohi of this force in a marked manner: while men were sent to the great camp at Tilbury, the other were kept by the Queen around herself as a part of the army appointed for her protection, and which was commanded by Lord Hunsdon. The raising of this body was undertaken by the several wards of the City, each sending a certain number of soldiers in proportion to its wealth and rank. Farringdon Ward Without stands at the head of the list; this sent no less than men, namely, shot or fire arms, corselets with pikes, corselets with bills, calivers, bows, pikes, bills; and the composition of this body shows with sufficient accuracy the composition of the whole , or, in other words, the composition of an English infantry army in the century. Thus much for the field strength. At the same time () the City supplied the Queen with of the largest ships in the Thames, and with pinnaces or light frigates, all completely furnished, armed, manned, and victualled, at its own expense; and even this powerful fleet was further increased, when the Armada did actually set out, to the entire number of ships.

The discomfiture of this gigantic expedition caused the assemblies in the Artillery Garden for a time to be neglected; but in or about , Philip Hudson, lieutenant of the Conmpany, revived them with considerable dclat. Country gentlemen, ambitious to shine in the discipline of these trained bands, flocked hither: the courtiers condescended to nod approval. Prince, afterwards King, Charles became their patron. volunteers were at time on the list. A beautiful stand of arms was purchased, and an armoury built. The Garden was situated in , on the spot now occupied by , , , and . But as the Company about this time had an


historian of its own, and he a poet, we must not presume to describe the history of the Garden in any but his words, which were evidently written immediately after the erection of the building just named:--

This fabric was by Mars's soldiers framed,

And Mars's armouries this building named.

It holds five hundred arms, to furnish those

That love their sovereign and will daunt his foes.

They spend their time and do not care for cost;

To learn the use of arms, there's nothing lost.

So much for the Armoury. Now for the Garden.

The ground whereon this building now doth stand The teazelIt was called the Teazel Close from the plant formerly grown there, used for raising the nap on woollen cloth, and which forms so important an article in the same manufacture at present. ground hath heretofore been named. And William, Prior of the Hospital, That of our blessed Lady, well we call St. Mary Spittle, without Bishopsgate, Did pass it by indenture bearing date January's third day, in Henry's time, Th' eighth of that name ;--the convent did conjoin Unto the guild of all artillery, Cross-bows, hand guns, and of archery, For full three hundred years excepting three: The time remaining we shall never see. Now have the noble council of our King Confirmed the same; and under Charles's wing We now do exercise, and of that little Teazel of ground we enlarge St. Mary Spittle; Trees we cut down, and gardens added to it; Thanks to the lords that gave us leave to do it; &c. Marischallus Petowe composuit.

As the more regular prose historian of the Company, Highmore, observes, we may see from these verses,

there was not wanting mental as well as personal ardour to support their cause;

nay, we even subscribe to his remark, that,

considering the early period in which they were composed,

when nothing better than a book of Canterbury Tales, a Faery Queene, or a Hamlet, had appeared,

that they may be not unworthily preserved.

We have all heard of the wish-Oh, that mine enemy would write a book; if he be an antiquarian, by all means let us add, and Oh let that book be in poetry! In the Company removed to their present home, a plot of ground leased to them by the City, in consequence of some unusually gratifying exhibition of their skill before the citizens in Merchant Taylors' Hall. This ground, prior to , was covered with gardens and orchards, and called Bunhill Fields; in that year it was converted into a spacious area for the use of the London Archers. On the decline of archery, the close was surrounded by a wall, and used by the gunners of the Tower for their weekly practice of firing against a butt of earth. At the time of their removal, busier than ever became the scenes in the exercising ground. At no period of the metropolitan history had weightier considerations occupied the minds of the citizens of London; the Armada even seemed to grow trivial in comparison. In a large, thickly populated, wealthy, brave, and martial country,


undistracted by internal dissensions, successful invasion must be at all times exceedingly difficult, almost impossible; and such was the position of England when the Armada threatened. Great sacrifices might have had to be made in resisting; but there could hardly be a doubt from the , in the eyes of an intelligent bystander, that England would successfully resist. But now England was to be divided against itself, through all its length and breadth-county against county, city against city, friends, fathers, brothers, and sons, each against each. Here too, was no straightforward object to be obtained by either party, such as the taking of this castle or that place; it was to be a war of principles, which might lead men they knew not whither, through interminable years of warfare, to end perhaps in a despotism, perhaps in a republic. And through all the eventful period that now commenced, the City, having chosen its side, (the popular as usual), did not simply show itself worthy of its former reputation, but achieved new glories, that won even from its bitterest enemies an almost enthusiastic approbation. A large proportion too, of the trained bands, as they were called, were new men; not previously accustomed to join in the regular exercises of the Artillery Company, or even in the more general musters of the City Militia once a year, or the separate Companies' musters, which occurred times in the year, and lasted each for days. The Puritans, in short, looked with abhorrence at the meetings in the Artillery Garden, as consisting of men too profane and wicked for their saintships. But no sooner did their preachers begin to show them from the pulpits that the spiritual battle they were about to fight must be decided by carnal weapons, than they soon rushed to the exercises, and though, no doubt, many a laugh greeted their attempts, there was no laughing long at men so terribly in earnest. The Cavaliers said it took years to teach a Puritan to discharge a musket without winking; but they were mistaken; it did not take the majority of them so long a time even to enable them to return the jest with a fearful amount of interest. At an early period of the dispute the trained bands of London were placed under the command of Serjeant-Major Skippon, of the most popular, brave, and zealous of commanders, who had raised himself by his merit from the rank of a common soldier to that of captain. Charles made numerous attempts at to keep, and subsequently to regain to his cause, the people of London, but in vain. In , or but months before Charles erected his standard at Nottingham, it became evident to the whole country that London was heart and soul with the Parliament: a general muster then took place in Finsbury Fields, where regiments appeared under arms, comprising men, all officered by men of known devotion to the Parliament, and headed by Skippon. To witness the review, tents were pitchedfor the accommodation of both Houses of Parliament; and the whole ended in a sumptuous dinner given by the City to all the chief persons concerned. The storm rolled on, and in the following month new preparations were made: then presented a remarkable aspect. In obedience to the orders of Parliament, orders that willing spirits alone would have obeyed, people in London, and from the country around for miles, locked thither with all the money they could spare to lend in support of the cause: arms and horses were also desired and supplied; and those who had none of these things were bidden to provide what they could--plate, jewels, valuables of every kind down to the


smallest trifle.

Not only,

says the historian May,

the wealthiest citizens and gentlemen who were near dwellers brought in their large bags and goblets, but the poorer sort, like that widow in the gospel, presented their mites also; insomuch that it was a common jeer of men disaffected to the cause to call this the

thimble and bodkin army


The occasion of the trained bands being drawn forth gave little opportunity for testing the quality of the soldiers thus ridiculed. This was when Charles, taking advantage of a November fog, and of the circumstance that the Parliamentarians were deliberating on some proposal he had made to them the day before, never dreaming he would play them such a trick, caused Prince Rupert to advance unexpectedly from Coinbrook to Brentford, hoping he might force his way suddenly into London; but at Brentford the broken regiment of Colonel Hollis received him like a wall of iron, and delayed the entire royalist army so long that the regiments of Hampden and Lord Brooke had time to come to I-ollis's assistance. The united body suffered greatly, but yielded not an inch; so there the royalists were content to stay for the night; which in London and on the road was avery busy . In vast numbers the citizens poured forth, headed by Skippon, who, although entirely illiterate, knew how to address his soldiers with an effect that a Hannibal might have envied.

Come, my boys, my brave boys,

said he on the present occasion,

let us pray heartily and fight heartily. I will run the same fortunes and hazards with you. Remember the cause is for God, and for the defence of yourselves, your wives, and children. Come, iny honest, brave boys, pray heartily and fight heartily, and God will bless us.

And thus,

continues Whitelock,

he went all along with the soldiers, talking to them, sometimes with


company, sometimes with another; and the soldiers seemed to be more taken with it than with a set oration.

To malke them all very comfortable, it appears their wives and friends in the City sent after them many cart-loads of wines and provisions to Turnham Green, with which the next day, as the armies faced each other inactive, the-soldiers made merry; and, as Whitelock observes, they grew merrier still when they heard that the King and all his army were in full retreat. This alarm over, a rumour of a attack was shortly after bruited abroad; when the Londoners gave a new specimen of what they could do for the cause. They determined to fortify the City; and they carried out their determination in a most characteristic style; gentlemen of the best quality, knights and others, even ladies, took spades and mattocks in hand, and went with drums beating to the works; which put such spirits into the hearts of the general mass of labourers, that in an almost incredibly short space of time entrenchments miles round were thrown up.[n.331.1]  Fresh bodies of troops, horse and foot, were now raised under the name of auxiliary regiments; and soon after, a part of these, joined to regiments of trained bands, were engaged at length in the open field, and had an opportunity afforded them of replying to all the Cavalier ridicule of the courage and military prowess of these London recruits-these apprentices, artisans, and shopkeepers. That was at the battle of Newbury. And what says Clarendon, the royalist historian, of their conduct in it? Why, that men, relying

on their inexperience of danger, or of any kind of slervice beyond the easy practice of their posture in the Artillery


had held them too cheap; for they now

behaved themselves to wonder,

and were in truth the preservation of the army that day

; for they stood as a bulwark and a rampire to defend the rest; and when their wings of horse were scattered and dispersed, kept their ground so steadily, that though Prince Rupert himself led up the choice horse [which he elsewhere says no other troops in the kingdom had been able to withstand] to charge them, and endured their storm of small shot, he could make no impression upon their stand of pikes, but was forced to wheel about.

This was the important blow struck at the King's power, and it was indeed a severe . He lost men, and many officers of rank, including accomplished noblemen, the Earls of Sunderland and Carnarvon, and the Secretary of State, the lamented Lord Falkiand. Worst of all he must have felt the moral injury done to his cause by the result of such a battle. And for the whole he was, as we have seen, in the main indebted to the citizens of the metropolis.
The only remaining occasions of importance since the Civil War for the exhibition of the military capabilities of London that we can mention were the wars during the latter part of the last and the early part of the present centuries. In the former of these periods the military arrangements were materially changed by the passing of an Act for the raising of regiments of militia in the city; the Staff of this force, called the Royal London Militia, is alone now kept up, under its Colonel, Sir Stephen Claudius Hunter, Bart. and Alderman. Of course such provision was merely for ordinary times. During the extraordinary period of the


wars with the French Republicans, and subsequently with Napoleon, the old fire blazed out with all its former intensity. Armed associations sprung up in every quarter of the metropolis; till the citizens of London and. , and parishes immediately adjacent, raised a volunteer force of aVove men. In addition to this, and the militia, and the Artillery Company, all the great Government establishments becomne so many strongholds, garrisoned by the clerks and servants, constantly in preparation for siege. The had a little army, strong, formed into regiments of foot and of horse; the Bank had a regiment of men, with a supplemnentary corps of ; the a regiment numbering , and the a regiment numbering nearly men.

In the Company's Hall and Armoury there is nothing demanding lengthened notice. The former is in process of rebuilding, and the latter is much the sort of place our readers will imagine an armoury must be-hung round with breastplates, helmets, and drums, and containing plenty of guns, swords, and bayonets, presented by different members of the Company, all handsomely displayed. The Company has received various royal patents, but essentially it is based on the principle of its own thorough independence, paying all its own expenses of clothing, arms, and ammunition, making-its own rules, choosing its own officers. Of course it does not form of the City Companies, though in most of its arrangements imitating them; it is governed, for instance, by a Court of Assistants; and has been accustomed, apparently, to exercise similar jurisdiction over the private conduct of its members: of which odd example occurs in the Company's records under the date of :

The name of John Currey, for his unmanly action in biting off his wife's nose, was ordered to be razed out of the Company's great book.

The members are persons of respectability and wealth, and do not now exceed, we believe, in number. Their Garden has enjoyed some reputation in connection with other than military subjects. In the last century it was the chief place for the settlement of cricket-matches, when county met county, and great was the tug of the sportive war. Here too in , the balloon was launched into the air from English ground by Count Zam-. beccari, no ascending with it; the balloon measured feet, and was afterwards found near Petworth, miles from London. And in the following year the balloon ascended with living beings in England from this Garden. This was the machine of M. Lunardi, whose account, as preserved in the books of the Company, taken down probably from his own mouth. as he delivered it before the Court of Assistants, when he dined with them days after, is deeply interesting. We extract the commencement, descriptive of his ascent, which was attended not only by all the natural anxieties incident to an experiment then so full of danger, but by accidental circumstances calculated to disarm the strongest nerves of their tone. He says that

a short time before he set off, while he was in the house, somebody told him that his balloon was burst, and all was ruined, which so agitated and confused his spirits, that he could not recover himself; his chagrin was considerably increased by the disappointment he suffered from the inability of the balloon to carry his companion: being obliged, however, to content himself with the company of a dog, cat, and pigeon, he prepared himself for his journey, taking with him


fowls, and



of wine, a compass, and a thermometer that stood at


° upon the earth. Everything being ready, he desired the people to leave his gallery, and, throwing out some ballast, he began to ascend, but was exceedingly alarmed when he found himself sinking again, and, hastily casting over some more ballast, he ascended readily, and felt himself perfectly easy and satisfied as soon as he was clear of the houses. He then waved his flag, and dropped it, as a token of his safety; after which he applied himself to his oars, but, unfortunately,


of them slipping out of its fastenings, he lost it; he continued, however, to work


with great success, finding he could raise or lower himself by that only; and did not doubt doing it with perfect ease when properly provided with both. He was much pleased with the success of the experiment; but, growing tired, he rested from his oar, and took a glass of wine, and (being supplied with the necessary utensils) wrote a letter, which, having folded up, he fastened it with a hair-pin to a napkin, and threw it down. He was now, and had been for some time, stationary. With respect to height, the thermometer standing at


°, he for a short time indulged himself with a prospect beautiful beyond description; for at this height M. Lunardi could clearly distinguish every object; and the distance from the earth, by enlarging the field, greatly added to the grandeur of the scene. The appearance of London had an amazing effect, in which

St. Paul's

was majestically conspicuous, and the winding Thames, with its shipping, rendered the whole beautifully romantic and picturesque.

In conclusion, we must observe, that our object in the foregoing paper has been rather to give some adequate and systematic view of the courage, address, skill, and liberality of the citizens of London from the earliest times, and of the mighty influence which they have in consequence exerted over the destinies of the country, looked at simply in a military point of view, rather than to attempt what with our space was neither practicable nor desirable, namely, to enumerate all the great events in which they have been prominently engaged. We have, therefore, said nothing of their fortifying the City with iron chains drawn athwart the streets, in the time of the quarrel between Henry III. and his barons, and of the other

marvellous things

which they are then said to have done; nor of their answer to Edward II., when wife, sons, brothers, cousin, as well as almost everybody else were marching against him, and he requested supplies of men and money--to which they replied,

They would shut their gates against all foreign traitors, but they would not go out of the City to fight, except they might, according to their liberties, return home again the same day before the sun set ;

upon hearing which Edward gave up all hope, fled, and was soon after murdered. Almost every few years of the City's annals are signalised by events of such, or scarcely less, importance. Thus again in , whilst Henry VI. was confined in the Tower, and just after the battle of Barnet had decided the fate of his dynasty, the bastard Falconbridge made a gallant but unsuccessful attempt to rescue him, that only the more surely precipitated his death: Edward IV. entered London day in triumph; the next it was rumoured through all its streets that Henry was dead. The attempted insurrections of Wyatt for the Protestant, and Essex for his own cause, are also interesting points in the civic history, inasmuch as that both were decided in its streets, that the leaders in both had relied on the aid of the citizens, and not receiving it, fell. Wyatt,


it is said, would have obtained this aid but for his own folly in delaying on the road to repair a gun-carriage, which prevented his arrival at the time that certain friends were ready to open the gates. Before he did arrive the plan had become known to the government, and was no longer possible. This story is the more likely frotm the evident feeling of the Londoners for him, as exhibited by a body of their soldiers, who, at the Lord Treasurer's request, were got ready in the course of a single day, to the number of , and shipped for Gravesend; but who no soonier i'eached the enemyvthan, moved by the spirited address of their captain, Brett, they at once joined the man they had come to oppose. The reviews under different sovereigns would furnish also materials for many a pleasant page, from those of Henry VIII. and Elizabeth in Greenwich Park down to those of George III. at and Hounslow; but, on the whole, we have probably said enough to show the Honour of Citizens and Worthiness of Men (to borrow of Stow's quaint Chapter Titles) in the conduct of the affairs of Military London.


[n.331.1] See the Plan of these Works in Vol. II. p. 104.