London, Volume 1

Knight, Charles


Suburban Milestones.

Suburban Milestones.




Jedediah Jones (he was called Jedediah in consequence of the admiration his father cherished for the character of Jedediah Buxton, the great calculator) was a schoolmaster at Barnet. His delight in his occupation was hereditary; for the elder Jones had properly impressed his son with a sense of the high responsibilities and privileges of his calling, and had shown him how superior a schoolmaster was to any of the other mighty functionaries of the land--to a judge, or a minister of state, or even to a bishop. Jedediah grew, in time, to be somewhat of an important personage, especially as his love of learning branched out into sundry matters of abstruse inquiry, by his knowledge of which he not only puzzled his wondering pupils, but occasionally perplexed the most sagacious of his neighbours. He was not a philosopher in the ordinary sense of the word, for he did not busy himself with any of the sciences as they exist in the present day; but he contrived to know something about the theories of these matters as they were received or centuries ago, and was always reflecting and experimenting upon propositions that all mankind have agreed to reject as absurd or impracticable. He was acquainted with the past existence of many vulgar errors; but he by no means acknowledged the propriety of that sweeping condemnation of certain opinions which was contained in the title of Sir Thomas Brown's folio. He had considerable faith that he should some day meet the Wandering Jew on


the great Holyhead Road: he turned up his nose at the belief that a griffin had not existed, for why should people have them painted on carriages if their ancestors had never seen such things: he was almost certain that he had himself heard a mandrake shriek when he pulled it up-(on purpose to hear it): and he was quite sure that there were only Queen Anne's farthings coined, and that he had got of them. As the old alchymists obtained some knowledge of chymistry in their search after gold, so our schoolmaster obtained a smattering of history and philosophy in his search after those crotchety points of learning which history and philosophy have determined to throw overboard; and thus, upon the whole, he managed to pass with the world as a very wise man, and his school flourished.

There were some matters, however, with all his learning, which puzzled Jedediah Jones exceedingly. of these dark and important questions was a source of perpetual irritation to him. He took long walks on half-holidays, and generally his face, on these occasions, turned towards London; for he had a secret conviction that his ultimate vocation was to be in that mighty metropolis, and that he should be summoned thither by a special decree of the Royal Society, or the Society of Antiquaries, and be humbly requested to solve some great enigma, of which all mankind, except himself, had missed the solution. In these long walks he was constantly reminded by the milestones that there was point of learning as to which he still remained in absolute ignorance. This was grievous. These milestones had proclaimed to him, from the days of his earliest recollections, that it was miles, or miles, or miles, or miles, or miles and a half,

from the spot where Hicks's Hall formerly stood


Now in all. his books he could find not an iota about Hicks, or Hicks's Hall. For tedious years had he been labouring at this riddle of Hicks's Hall. It was his thought by day, and his dream by night. Who was Hicks? How did Hicks obtain such a fame that even the milestones were inscribed to his memory? What was his Christian name? Was he General Hicks, or Admiral Hicks, or Bishop Hicks, or Chief Justice Hicks? Or was he plain Mr. Hicks? and if so, was he M.P., or F.R.S., or F.A.S., or M.R.I.A.? Why did Hicks build a hall? Was it a hall like

the colleges and halls

of Oxford and Cambridge, or like the in , ? Perhaps it was a hall for public entertainments,perhaps Hicks was a member of of the City companies, and built a hall which the company in gratitude called after his name. How long ago was Hicks's Hall built? Was it in the Gothic or the Roman style of architecture? Was it of brick or stone? Had it a carved roof? When did Hicks's Hall cease to exist? Was it burnt down? Was it pulled down by the mob? Was it taken down to widen the street? Was it suffered to go to decay and fall down? Was anybody killed when it fell down? Are the ruins still to be seen? Has anybody written the History of Hicks's Hall? Has anybody written the Life of Hicks? Shall I, Jedediah Jones, write this work which the world must be so anxiously looking for?

Such were a few of the perplexing and yet inspiriting thoughts which had for years passed through Jones's mind, as he walked from Barnet, Highgate-ward. His difficulties at last became insupportable. He took up his resolution, and he was comforted. A week still remained of the Christmas holidays. He would


set out for London, and not see his house again till he had penetrated the mystery of Hicks's Hall.

With his trusty staff in his right hand, and a small bundle containing his wardrobe in a pocket-handkerchief under his left arm, Mr. Jones sallied forth from Barnet, under the auspices of the New Weather Almanac, on a morning which promised to be

fair and frosty,

in . The morning was misty, with rain, which occasionally became sleet, driving in his face. He courageously marched on through Whetstone, and crossed the dreary regions of Finchley Common,--without meeting a highwayman,--which was a disappointment, as he had an implicit belief in the continued existence of those obsolete contributors to the public amusement. He at length reached the northern ascent of Highgate Hill, and his spirits, which were somewhat flagging, received a new impulse. The milestone proclaimed that he was only miles

from the spot where Hicks's Hall formerly stood.

Onward he went, over Highgate Hill, till he arrived at the stone which told him that he was only



from the shrine to which his pilgrimage was dedicated. But here was a new attraction--an episode in his journey of discovery. He had reached Whittington's Stone,and there he read that this redoubted thrice Lord Mayor of London had passed through these repetitions of glory in the years of our Lord , and , and . Here then Whittington had sat--here he had heard Bow Bells--here he had thought of his faithful cat--here he had returned to cherish his cat once more, and to win all the riches of which his cat was the original purveyor. But then a thought came across him as to which was the greater man, Whittington or Hicks? If Whittington had stone raised to his memory, Hicks had ; Hicks, therefore, must be the greater man. Who was Hicks? Where was Hicks's Hall? He was only miles

from the spot where Hicks's Hall formerly stood ;

the problem would be soon solved.

He at length reached , stopping not to gaze upon the suburban gentility of Holloway, nor going out of his way to admire the architectural grandeur of Highbury. He was now only


mile from the spot where Hicks's Hall formerly stood.

The stone which proclaimed this great truth reared its proud head, unencumbered by houses, at a distinguished distance from the footpavement and the high road. It seemed, as he approached the scene of Hicks's glories, that there was an evident disposition to call attention to the name of the immortal man, whoever he might have been. He was persuaded that he should now learn all about Hicks ;--the passers-by must be full of Hicks ;--the dwellers must reverence Hicks. He went into a pastrycook's shop opposite the triumphal stone. He bought a penny bun, and he thus addressed the maiden at the counter:

Young woman, you have the happiness of living near the spot where Hicks's Hall formerly stood. I have walked


miles to see that place. Which is the road?

The young woman replied,

Hicks, the greengrocer, lives over the way; there is no other Hicks about here.

This was satisfactory. Hicks, the greengrocer, must be a descendant of the great Hicks; so he sought Hicks, the greengrocer, and, bowing profoundly, he asked if he could tell him the way to the spot where Hicks's Hall formerly stood? Now Hicks, the greengrocer, was a wag, and his waggery was increased by living in the keen atmosphere of the Angel at , and by picking up something of the wit that is conveyed from


the West to the East, and from the East to the West, by the omnibuses that arrive every minutes from the Exchange at end, and from Paddington at the other. To Jones, therefore, Hicks answered by another question,

Does your mother know you're out?

This was a difficult question for Jedediah to answer. He had not communicated to his mother-good old lady--the object of his journey; she might have disapproved of that object. How could Mr. Hicks know he had a mother? how could he know that he had not told his mother all his anxieties about Hicks's Hall? He was unable to give a reply to Hicks, the greengrocer; so Hicks, the greengrocer, recommended him to get into an omnibus which was standing opposite the door.

Into the omnibus Jedediah Jones accordingly went, and he desired the gentleman called a conductor to put him down at the spot where Hicks's Hall formerly stood. The gentleman grinned; and something passed between him and another gentleman, called a cad, which had better be trusted to the immortality of their unwritten language than be here inscribed. On went the omnibus, and after a tedious hour Jedediah Jones found the carriage deserted, and the conductor bawled out

Elephant and Castle, Sir.

During his progress our worthy schoolmaster had put sundry questions to his fellow-passengers touching Hicks's Hall, but he found them of an ignorant and perverse generation; they knew nothing of Hicks-nothing of Hicks's Hall-nothing of the spot where Hicks's Hall formerly stood. The ignorance of the people, he thought, was beyond all calculation; and he determined that not a boy of Barnet should not, henceforward, be thoroughly informed of matters upon which mankind were called upon, by the very milestones, to be all-knowing.



At the Elephant and Castle our traveller had lost all traces of Hicks's Hall. The milestones had forgotten Hicks and his hall. They were full of another glory-

the Standard in Cornhill


What was the Standard in ? Was it the Royal Standard, or was it the Union Jack? Perhaps it might be the new standard of weights and measures. He was clearly out of the region of Hicks, so he would make his way to the Standard at . Who could tell but he might there find the standard of the English language, which he had long been searching for? At any rate they would there tell him of the place where Hicks's Hall formerly stood.

By the aid of another omnibus our pains-taking Jedediah was placed in the busiest throng of the London hive. He was in . Jones was somewhat shy, according to the custom of learned men,--and he, therefore, knew not how to address any particular individual of the busy passengers, to inquire about the Standard at . He did, however, at last venture upon a very amiable and gentlemanly-looking man,--who politely offered to show him the desired spot. The promise was not realised;--in a moment his friend slipped from his side,--and Jedediah found that his purse, containing and sixpence, had vanished from his pocket. He forgot the Standard in ; and in despair he threw himself into a Hampstead stage, resolved not to give up his search after Hicks's Hall although he had only a few shillings in his waistcoat pocket.

In a melancholy reverie Jedediah arrived in the Hampstead stage at Camden Town. He knew that he ought not to go further, unless he was quite prepared to abandon the original object of his inquiry. It was a bitter afternoon. The rain fell in torrents. He had a furious appetite,--he had lost his purse,--yet still he would not sleep till he had found the spot where Hicks's Hall formerly stood. He left the Hampstead stage, and there was light enough for him to ascertain whether the milestones were still faithful to Hicks. A new difficulty presented itself. The milestone in Camden Town informed him that he was . What was Pound? Why did a saint require a pound? If it was a pound sterling, was there not a slight anachronism between the name of the current coin and the era of the saint? If it were a pound for cattle, was it not a very unsaintly office for the saint to preside over the matter of strayed heifers? He was puzzled;--so he got into a cab, being disgusted with the ignorance of the people in omnibuses, for the opportunity of a quiet colloquy with the intelligent-looking driver.

My worthy friend,

said Jones,

we are only


miles from

St. Giles's

Pound-what sort of a pound is

St. Giles's


For the matter of that,

said the cab-driver,

I have driv here these


years, and I never yet seed

St. Giles's

Pound, nor


Bars,--no, never,--though ve always reckons by them.


replied Mr. Jones,--

then please to drive me to the Standard in



The Standard in


,--that's a good


!-I should like to know who ever seed the Standard in


. Ve knows the Swan with


Necks in

Lad Lane

, and the Golden Cross, and the Vite Horse Cellar in


, but I never heerd of anybody that ever seed the Standard in



Then, Sir,

said Jones, breathlessly,

perhaps you don't know the place where Hicks's Hall formerly stood?

As for Hicks's Hall,

said the



it's hall a hum. There's no such place,--no more than the Standard in


, nor


Bars, nor

St. Giles's

Pound,--and my oppinnun is, there never wor such places, and that they keep their names on the milestones to bilk the poor cabs out of their back carriage.

Jedediah Jones was discomfited. He did not quite understand the cabman's solution; and he had a vague notion that, if the milestones were placed with reference to the Post-office, or , or some place which exist, the back carriage and other carriage of cabmen and hackney-coachmen would be better regulated. He, however, made the best of his position. He spent of his remaining shillings upon a frugal dinner; and, wending his way back to , he bestowed the other upon the coachman of a Holyhead mail to convey him to Barnet without further loss of time or property.

The journey of discovery which we have thus narrated is not an impossible to have been undertaken by a person whose curiosity was greater than his judgment.[n.246.1]  The suburbs of London continue to be full of puzzling inscriptions, such as that of Hicks's Hall. The system of measuring the roads out of London by some well-known centrical object, such as the Standard in (a conduit once known to every passenger), was a right system, and ought to have been the uniform . But the other system was that of measuring the roads from some point where London was supposed to terminate. There is a wide part of , some yards from Smithfield, where we learn, by an inscription on a mean public-house, that Hicks's Hall formerly stood. This was the for the justices of Middlesex; and it was built at the sole cost of Sir Baptist Hicks, in the reign of James I. Here then, centuries ago, was something like the beginning of London proper, to those who arrived from the country. The Hall was surrounded with fields and scattered houses; and it was of course a remarkable object to those who entered the metropolis from the north. Again, Pound,--a real pound for cattle, which is marked upon the old plans,--was a prominent object, standing in the village of , at the intersection of the roads from Hampstead and from Oxford. This, also, was something like the beginning of London: but Hicks's Hall and Pound have long since vanished; and the milestones which record their faded glory ought also to be swept away. Similar changes have taken place under our own eyes. Some years ago Tyburn Turnpike existed. The intolerable nuisance of a gate in of the most crowded roads seemed to draw a line of demarcation between London and the suburbs; and so the roads were measured from Tyburn Turnpike. Now an inscription tells us where Tyburn Turnpike stood,--a matter upon which we should have no desire to be informed if the milestones onward did not continue to refer to Tyburn Turnpike. is, in the same way, nearly obsolete; but it was a real barrier when its gates stretched across the road, with their wondrous illumination of a dozen oil lamps before the days of gas. The managers of this road have now begun, as


they conceive, to reform the milestones; and these dumb oracles tell us that we are


mile from





miles from London.

What is London? Where does it begin? where does it end? Is not the character of London always shifting? We now call , London; but it was not London a century ago. is now as much London as . In London, then, a stranger is told he is a mile from London. This, of course, is unintelligible. But why not tell the stranger, and at the same time afford most valuable information to the resident, that at he is miles from the General Post-office? In the Preface to the Population Returns of we have a little plan of the places comprised within a circle whose radius is miles from . That circle then comprised million inhabitants. Reduce the circle to a radius of miles, and we have the London of the present day, with as many inhabitants as were contained in the larger circle of , if not more.


The history of the growth of London is a subject as large as it is interesting. But its local details require to be traced with minute accuracy; and this subject we propose to attempt in a Series of Memoirs on the Maps of London at various periods. We shall at present confine ourselves to some general notices of the progressive increase of the population; which may have some additional claim upon the attention from the circumstance that the new census is to be taken on the next.

It is impossible to turn to any of the ancient accounts of the populousness of London without being satisfied that the number of its inhabitants has been the subject of the most extraordinary exaggeration. Fitzstephen says,

this city is honoured with her men, graced with her arms, and peopled with a multitude of inhabitants. In the fatal wars under King Stephen there went out to a muster men fit for war, esteemed to the number of

twenty thousand

horse-men armed, and

sixty thousand


men fit for war living within walled London, and not only living within but going out to a muster! If we suppose


that only - of this number remained at home to carry on the business of the city, and assume (the general proportion) that half the population was under years of age and half above, we have males in London in the reign of King Stephen; and this calculation would give us a population of . In London within the walls (a distinction which no longer exists for any practical purposes) contained only inhabitants. But if the statements of Fitzstephen may be supposed to be somewhat loose, we shall find some calculations still more extraordinary as we enter upon the times of regular legislation, when the increase of population was viewed with alarm or satisfaction according to the theories which prevailed as to the causes of national wealth. The progressive increase of London was always regularly asserted, and it was always a subject of alarm. In a proclamation was issued forbidding the erection of new buildings within miles of the city gates, and requiring that only family should inhabit the same house. The Queen went on proclaiming, and the Parliament went on enacting, in the same spirit, to the end of the century. In a proclamation, more remarkable for its stringency than any which had preceded it, was put forth. No new buildings were to be erected within miles of London and : No existing dwelling-house should be converted into smaller tenements: If any house had been so divided within the preceding years, the inmates should quit it: All sheds and shops erected within years should be pulled down: Empty houses, built within years, should not be let: Unfinished buildings, on new foundations, should be pulled down. The reasons for these severities are thus assigned in the proclamation:--

Her Majesty foreseeing the great and manifold inconveniences and mischiefs which daily grow, and are likely more and more to increase, unto the state of the City of London, and the suburbs and confines thereof, by access and confluence of people to inhabit the same, not only by reason that such multitudes could hardly be governed by ordinary justice to serve God and obey her Majesty without constituting an addition of more officers and enlarging of authorities and jurisdictions for that purpose, but also could hardly be provided of sustentation of victual, food, and other like necessaries for man's relief, upon reasonable prices: and finally, for that such great multitudes of people inhabiting in small rooms, whereof many be very poor, and such as must live by begging, or worse means, and being heaped up together, and in a sort smothered, with many families of children and servants in


house or small tenement, it must needs follow, if any plague or other universal sickness come amongst them, it would presently spread through the whole city and confines, and also into all parts of the realm,

&c. &c.

In a proclamation of Charles I., years afterwards, pretty nearly the same commands were issued; and the heads of families were also, as they had formerly been, forbidden to receive inmates,--the facilities for residing in London being such, it was alleged, as would multiply the inhabitants to so great a degree that they could neither be governed nor fed. The measures which were taken to prevent the increase of buildings no doubt tended to produce the evil of

great multitudes of people inhabiting in small rooms;

for it is perfectly clear that no statute or proclamation could prevent the rush of strangers to the City whenever there was a demand for their industry. It was sensibly enough


observed, in ,

that the City is repeopled, after a great Plague, in



The christenings are properly considered by this observer as a standard of the increase or decrease of the inhabitants; and he tells us that in , the year preceding a great Plague, they amounted to ; in , the year after the Plague, they were only ; but in they reached a higher number than in , being .[n.249.1]  This decrease in the births would show a decrease of persons during the year of the Plague; and which void was filled up in another year. That the proclamations of Elizabeth and Charles, inoperative as they might be for any large results, were in some measure carried into effect, there can, however, be no doubt. Houses pulled down-when the owners could not manage to bribe those in power to let them remain. The buildings went on increasing; and soon after the Restoration they had increased so much that an ingenious and accurate observer,-- of our best of letter-writers, Howel,--had persuaded himself, and attempted to persuade others, that London contained a million and a half of people :--

For number of human souls, breathing in City and suburbs, London may compare with any in Europe in point of populousness. The last census that was made in Paris came under a million; but in the year


King Charles sending to the Lord Mayor to make a scrutiny what number of Roman Catholics and strangers there were in the City, he took occasion thereby to make a census of all the people; and there were of men, women, and children, above

seven hundred thousand

that lived within the bars of his jurisdiction alone; and this being




years passed, 'tis thought, by all probable computation, that London hath more by the


part now than she had then. Now, for


, and

Petty France


the Strand

, Bedford Berry,

St. Martin's Lane


Long Acre


Drury Lane

, St. Giles of the Field,

High Holborn


Gray's Inn Lane

, St. James and

St. George's

Street, Clerkenwell, the outlets of Red and

Whitecross Street

, the outlets beyond the Bars of Bishopsgate, Aldersgate, and


Bars, beyond the Tower, &c.,--take all these places, with divers more which are contiguous and


entire piece with London herself,--I say, take all these buildings together, there will be found, by all probable conjecture, as many inhabitants at least as were found before within that compass where the point of the Lord Mayor's sword reacheth, which may amount in all to a million and a half of human souls. Now,


way to know the populousness of a great city is to observe the bills of mortality and nativities every week. I think there is no such custom in Paris; but for Amsterdam, which is a very populous mercantile place, the ordinary number there of those that go weekly out of the world is but


, or thereabouts, and about so many come into the world every week.

Nothing can be more precise and circumstantial than this statement.

The last census that was made in Paris came under a million.

No doubt it did. The population of the Department of the Seine, extending miles from the centre of Paris, was, in , only above a million. But years after this statement of Howel's, the annual number of births in Paris was , which, multiplied by , the probable proportion of the births to the population, the number of inhabitants was under a million. Howel compared


London with Amsterdam : his computation of the population by the births would only give a result of about inhabitants for that city. The births in London were about times as many as those of Amsterdam when Howel wrote. The


to which he refers of the actual inhabitants of the took place in ; and it is, perhaps, the approach to a regular enumeration of the people which we possess. The government did not desire to know the number of Roman Catholics and strangers; but it was afraid of an approaching dearth : and in those days, when the corn-merchants, who were called monopolists and forestallers, were not permitted to mitigate the evils of scarcity by buying up corn in times of plenty, the government called upon the Lord Mayor to know what number of mouths were in the City and the Liberty,--how much corn was requisite to feed that number for a month,--where the corn was to be kept,--when the city intended to make this provision,--what stock of money was provided, &c. The number of people in each ward was accordingly ascertained, and it was returned to the Privy Council as . The foundation of Howel's calculation is thus demolished. Statistical documents were then not printed, but talked about; and such an exaggeration would be easily enough received. But his account is still valuable and curious. It shows us in what directions London was increasing. Howel has of his characteristic gossiping passages upon this matter:--

The suburbs of London are larger than the body of the city, which make some compare her to a Jesuit's hat, whose brims are far larger than the block; which made Count Gondomar, the Spanish ambassador, to say, as the Queen of Spain was discoursing with him, upon his return to England, of the City of London-

Madam, I believe there will be no city left shortly, for all will run out of the gates to the suburbs.

Captain Graunt, who published his

Observations on the Bills of Mortality

in , says

that the trade and very City of London removes


the walled city is but a


of the whole pile.

But he shows us how, even in the walled city, the population was increasing-great houses, formerly belonging to noblemen, had been turned into tenements. There were reasons, according to this accurate writer, why London increased in a westerly direction:--the Court now resided entirely in Westminster--the old streets of the city were too narrow for the use of coaches, and the new streets towards Covent Garden were broad enough. This was before the Great Fire. That event silenced for ever all the attempts to restrain the growth of the city beyond the walls and liberties. Under the Commonwealth the contest between the government and the owners of land and builders, who acted upon the irresistible impulse of demand and supply, became an affair of compromise. Fines upon new buildings were levied to the use of the Commonwealth, instead of houses being pulled down. The statute gravely says,

by the law the said houses and nuisances ought to be abated; but as the severity of the law would be the undoing of divers persons,


year's clear annual value of each house shall be taken in full satisfaction and discharge.

We may form some notion of the increase of building from a pamphlet published in , entitled

The Grand Concern of England Explained,

in which the writer, who is also for putting down the abomination of stage-coaches, maintains that the increase of London is the ruin of the country:--

I desire every serious, considerate person that knew London and


, and the suburbs thereof,




years ago, when

England was far richer and more populous than now it is, to tell me whether, by additional buildings upon new foundations, the said cities and suburbs since that time are not become at least a


part bigger than they were; and whether, in those days, they were not thought and found large enough to give a due reception to all persons that were fit or had occasion to resort thither, whereupon all further buildings on new foundations, even in those days, were prohibited? Nevertheless, above

thirty thousand

houses, great and small, have been since built, the consequences whereof may be worthy of our consideration. These houses are all inhabited. Considering, then, what multitudes of whole families, formerly dwelling in and about the said cities, were cut off by the


last dreadful plagues, as also by the war abroad and at home, by land and by sea, and how many have transported themselves, or been transported, into our foreign plantations, and it must naturally follow that those who inhabit these new houses, and many of the old ones, must be persons coming out of the country; which makes so many inhabitants the less there where they are most needful and wanting.

But pamphlets were as ineffectual as proclamations to stop the increase. The writer of

The Grand Concern

lets us into the secret of the moving power which compelled the increase, in a few simple words:

In short, these new buildings are advantageous to none but to the owners of the ground on which they are built, who have raised their wonted rents from a

hundred pounds




six hundred pounds

per annum, besides the improvements in reversion; or to the builders, who by slight buildings on long leases make



twelve pounds

per cent. of their moneys.

The advance of rents from to , and per cent. upon the cost of building, were arguments such as Parliament or pamphleteer could do little to overturn. Fashion, too, had something to do with the extension of the suburbs. When the great merchants had their City mansions, the wealthy ladies of the City were content with their narrow lanes. But the Great Fire destroyed something of the love of the old localities. Dr. Rolles, who wrote a book in on the rebuilding of London, says that the

marring of the City was the making of the suburbs; and some places of despicable termination, and as mean account, such as


, and


, do now contain not a few citizens of very good fashion.

The notion then of the probable extension of London was much the same that we have been accustomed to hear in our own day--that London was going to Hammersmith, to Brentford, to Hounslow,--or to Paddington, to Kilburn, to Edgeware,--or to Camden Town, to Hampstead,--and so forth. In

The Play House to Let

of D'Avenant we have this passage:--

We'll let this theatre, and build another, where,

At a cheaper rate, we may have room for scenes.

Brainford's the place!

Perhaps 'tis now somewhat too far i' th' suburbs;

But the mode is for builders to work slight and fast;

And they proceed so with new houses

That old London will quickly overtake us.

The continual influx of strangers to London was great cause, as it is at the present day, for the demand for new houses and new accommodation for inmates. Whilst James I. was commanding all noblemen, knights, and gentlemen, who had .


mansion-houses in the country, to return to their several habitations, to abide there until the end of the summer vacation, the Scots who had followed him to England were building up . Howel says,

the Scots, greatly multiplying here, nestled themselves about the Court; so that

the Strand

, from the mud walls and thatched cottages, acquired that perfection of buildings it now possesses.

The French Protestants came over here in many thousands about , and established themselves in the neighbourhood between Covent Garden and , which we now know as Dials and ; Spitalfields, also peopled by them, grew into a town. A little previous to this Sir William Petty had made his celebrated calculations on the quantity of people in London, and the continual increase of the capital. In he estimates that there were tenanted houses; he fixes the number in each at persons; and he thus obtains a population of . In this calculation he includes, under the name of London, all the built ground in Middlesex and Surrey which could be considered

contiguous unto, or within call of,

London, , and . According to the

Parish Clerks' Registers of the Bills of Mortality,

the average christenings about this period reached annually, which will give a total population of more than . The registers were, of course, imperfect records of the number of births; and, looking at the larger space included in Sir W. Petty's calculation, he was probably not very greatly in excess-perhaps to the extent of . Neither is there any very extraordinary change in the habits of London indicated by the fact of it being assumed that there was an average of persons in each house a century and a half ago. The present proportion is more than persons to each house. The diffusion of comforts divides the people into separate houses. In Paris each floor of a house is, in many senses of the word, a separate house; yet still there is less of comfort, according to our English notions, in such a packing up of the population in high buildings. There, in , houses held individuals --an average of more than persons to each house: but then each house contained families. Sir W. Petty calculated that in London was times larger than in the beginning of the reign of Elizabeth, in -that is, that the population in was under . This we should consider far too low an estimate, and rather formed to accommodate Sir W. Petty's theory, that London doubles the number of its inhabitants every years, than built on any certain . His theory led this very able man to some conclusions which now look like many other statistical prophecies will look when tested by time,--sufficiently absurd. He says that as London doubles its inhabitants every years, in the year the number of its people will be above ; that the inhabitants of all the rest of England will be very little more,--under millions. Now, this, he says, cannot be--which we very readily admit; and that London must therefore have reached its utmost height of population at the next preceding period, , when it will exceed millions,--and that the number must . But how stop? Suddenly, through famine? or by the universal agreement of the excessive population to emigrate? The whole fallacy of the apprehensions of nearly centuries, that the growth of London was something unnatural and therefore ruinous to the country, lies in the mistake which Sir W. Petty fell into, that its increase was not in the same ratio as the increase of the people


generally. In England, and Wales, and Scotland, the increase of population in , as compared with , was above per cent.--in London, above ; in the general increase was little more than per cent.-in London more than ; and in the difference was still greater, the country population having increased per cent., whilst London had increased per cent. Thus at the last census London had increased in years per cent. faster than the general population of Great Britain. But, comparing the returns of with those of , we are enabled to trace the particular directions of the increase. New cities, during the present century, have been almost created. London proper--the City of London-had per cent. in its inhabitants and per cent. in the number of houses. London, , and ,the London of a century ago,--contained only inhabitants in round numbers. But Finsbury contained ; St. Mary-le-bone, ; , ; the Tower Hamlets, . Each of these are mighty cities; and the embrace a population that at the present time we may reckon as containing a million of inhabitants.

During the lapse of centuries and a half since the proclamations of Elizabeth against the increase of London, and of centuries from the date of those of Charles I., we have got rid of the apprehension that the

access and confluence

of people dependent upon and urging forward the increase of the capital would amount to such multitudes that they

could hardly be governed by ordinary justice.

London has gone on increasing; and yet for how long a time has it been exempt from such scenes as those described by Fleetwood, its Recorder, about the period of Elizabeth's proclamation of ! He writes thus to Lord Burghley:

My singular good lord,--Upon Thursday, at even, her Majesty in her coach near


, taking of the air, her Highness was environed with a number of rogues.


Mr. Stone, a footman, came in all haste to my Lord Mayor, and after to me, and told us of the same. I did the same night send warrants out into the said quarters, and into


, and the Duchy; and in the morning I went abroad myself, and I took that day



The number of rogues who environed her Majesty appears to have produced a tremendous consternation. Fleetwood went on taking

shoals of rogues,

numbers of rogues,

and, to use his very expressive term, he

gave them substantial payment.

He adds,

I the chief nursery of all those evil people is the Savoy, and the brick-kilns near



[n.253.1]  London is now, with its millions of inhabitants, the most orderly city in the world. There are no shoals of rogues brought in to be whipped; their gathering together is prevented. And yet no honest man, however humble, quietly pursuing his occupation, can be molested by this preventive power. Fleetwood lets us into a secret as to the mode in which, amongst the rogues,



received his payment according to his deserts.

He says,

they brought unto me at



tall fellows that were draymen unto brewers. The constables, if they might have had their own will, would have brought as many more.

Were these tall fellows discharged?

They were all soundly paid, and sent home to their masters.

This, we hope, was not quite the ordinary justice by which the increasing multitudes of London were to be governed; and yet the administration of the laws had so little


justice, and therefore so little policy, in its composition, that we are not surprised that the government dreaded any increase of the masses of the people. There was, however, another cause of alarm. The increasing multitudes

could hardly be provided of sustentation of victual, food, and other like necessaries for man's relief, upon reasonable price.

It is just possible that, with very bad roads, a large city might be in this condition. We doubt if there ever was a very large city without ample means of external communication by sea, by rivers connected with the sea, or by inland roads. The supply of food to such a city must be drawn from a larger area than the country immediately around it. London is most favourably situated in this respect; and we believe that even in the time of Elizabeth there could have been no difficulty in supplying with food any amount of inhabitants in the capital. The increase of its inhabitants must, to a certain extent, have been always proportionate, if not to the actual increase of the other inhabitants of the country, to the increase of the whole productive power of the country. London could not be fed during an increase of its inhabitants, if the capital and profits of London did not proportionally increase. But that increase of capital would increase the food, by the best of all possible means-by increasing the productive power by which it could alone be supplied. We may dismiss therefore, once and for ever, the notion that London can sustain a deficiency of food as long as she has the means of purchasing food. The wonderful precision with which her daily supplies are regulated may be almost termed the result of a law of nature. Nothing is done in concert; but each man acts upon the dictates of his own interest; and thus, and thus alone, there is no deficiency, and no waste.

But there was a cause of apprehension in the proclamations of Elizabeth, with regard to the increase of people in London, which we seem rather to have shut our eyes against. It has been of those things which it is not pleasant to look upon. It has not made to itself a loud voice, like that of the rogues about Queen Elizabeth's coach. It has not been an imaginary evil, like that of the fancied disproportion between the demand and the supply of food. The proclamation complains of

great multitudes of people inhabiting in small rooms, whereof many be very poor, heaped up together, and in a sort smothered with many families of children in



This is an evil which exists up to the present hour. If the legislators of the time of Elizabeth had understood how to correct the evil, they would have encouraged building in the suburbs, instead of legislating against the local extension of London. occasionally sweep away the wretched dens, hidden in back courts and alleys, where the poor are in a sort smothered; but neither do we make any provision for them, by building habitations fit for their reception. of the great improvements of our streets that has long been contemplated, is the opening of a road from the east end of direct to , without passing through the narrow and sinuous entrance by . The district which would be required to be destroyed is of the most densely populated in London. Few of our readers know of its existence, fewer have ever ventured through it. It is familiarly known by the names of the Rookery and the Holy Land. A distinguished architect, who has also the higher distinction of being a most benevolent man, thus described it in :--

The unutterable abominations of it can only be conceived by those who, in the exercise of charity, or in quest of

crime, have been forced to become familiar with its recesses. It is indeed the retreat of wretchedness, the nest of disease, and at once the nursery and sanctuary of vice. A very short excursion into this place will be enough to convince any


, through the medium of every sense, that it was built before the present wholesome regulations respecting building and cleansing were in force; and no part of the town can more strongly attest the imperfections of the law on the head of drainage. Indeed, there is scarcely a single sewer in any part of it; so that here, where there is the greatest accumulation of filth, there is the least provision made for its removal.

But Mr. Smirke did not propose to drive the plough of civic improvement over the greater part of this district, without providing such buildings for the future reception of the inhabitants as would wonderfully increase their comforts and the safety of the whole community. The great Plague of broke out in . The districts of that day are now districts. Independently of the general want of drainage in such neighbourhoods, the inmates of each house are

smothered up

in a manner that appears totally irreconcilable with the general civilization of the capital, and with the practical benevolence which is at work to mitigate the evils which nothing but a universally improved state of society can wholly eradicate. Mr. Smirke gives an example (and we have reason to believe, from other sources of information, that this was not a very extraordinary case) of house, consisting of small rooms, being occupied by men, women, and children. room on the underground-floor held man, woman, and children. rooms on the ground-floor contained men, women, and children. on the floor were stuffed with men, women, and children. on the floor were smothered up with men, women, and children. garrets completed the horrible mountain of misery, indecency, and disease, with men, women, and children. These poor squalid families collectively paid to the landlord of the house a daily rent amounting to nearly a year. Mr. Smirke says,

The poorest vagrant now pays sixpence per night for leave to lie down on a wretched pallet in some foul chamber in

St. Giles's

, with a dozen or more forlorn beings like himself; and a workman is obliged to pay from

three shillings


four shillings

per week for the hire of a single room, in which he, his wife, and perhaps a numerous. family, are condemned to live day and night.

[n.255.1]  The remedy suggested by Mr. Smirke is a very obvious --for the government, or, what is perhaps better, for private speculators, to build in the suburbs airy and commodious lodging-houses, for the class of persons who inhabit such places as the Rookery; with common means of warmth, common kitchens, common grounds for exercise and recreation. The scheme is a noble ,--and it is a practicable ,--it would pay--the consideration which must always prevail, and which should always prevail, in the decision upon projects which involve a large and enduring expenditure of capital. In the districts we have described, and in many others of a similar nature, there are lodging-houses for persons who when they rise in the morning know not where they are to sleep:

They generally consist of




small rooms, each of which often contains


beds; and it is no uncommon circumstance for


persons to be sleeping in


of these

loathsome abodes. For the use of these wretched beds. (if such they may be termed) fourpence or sixpence is required per night; and it is a fact familiar to the parish officers, that great properties have been, and still are, accumulated in this way.

Mr. Smirke would construct for this class of persons, in suitable parts of each parish. The rooms would much resemble the wards of . such building, containing beds or compartments, could be erected for ; and if each compartment were let at twopence per night, an annual rental would be produced of , being and a half per cent. upon the outlay. There would be difficulties, no doubt, in effecting such changes,--in part arising from the indisposition of any great body of the people, accustomed to habits producing even positive suffering to themselves, towards a change to other habits which are to work out for them comfort, and happiness, and respectability. Another difficulty arising out of the congregation of any great mass of labourers in the suburbs would be the distance between their place of lodging and their occupation. The saving would, we have no doubt, provide such a working community with omnibuses to ride to their employ. But they would gladly walk. May such changes be effected in our day; and may those who would be the most benefited by them inscribe on the gates of some suburban palace for the poor, words that in our times would be more intelligible and more edifying than the inscriptions to the glory of Hicks's Hall or Pound, the Standard in or Bars, Tyburn Turnpike or ,--

Two miles from the spot where the rookery formerly stood.


[n.246.1] This imaginary relation, as we have here given it, was written by the Editor of London as a friendly contribution to a little work published by Lady Mary Fox, in 1838, for the benefit of the Royal Schools of Industry at Kensington. As this volume was limited in its circulation to a small number of well-wishers to the charity, the Editor of London has no hesitation in making it the introduction to the present paper.

[n.249.1] Quoted in Strype's Stow.

[n.253.1] Ellis's Letters, vol. ii.

[n.255.1] Suggestions for the Architectural Improvement of the Western Part of London. By Sydney Smirke. p. 56.