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NOTITIA OF THE MONUMENT OF LONDON. The monument of London, as connected with one of the most awful and melancholy catastrophes that ever afflicted the British nation, can never cease to be an object of deep interest to all true Protestants. It is, we are aware, the fashion in these pseudo-liberal times, when the destruction of both Church and State is called Reform, and all religion pronounced a bugbear, to question the authority upon which the fire of London is attributed to the inveterate malice of the Papists; but for our own parts, we are fully satisfied with the memorable words of the Lord Chancellor Nottingham, when he pronounced sentence upon Lord Stafford :-
“ Doth any man now begin to doubt how London came to be burnt? or by what hands or means poor Justice Godfrey fell ? And is it not apparent, by these instances, that such is the frantic zeal of some bigoted papists, that they resolve no means to advance the catholic cause shall be left unattempted, though it be by fire and sword ?”
That a pillar erected to commemorate an event of this criminal nature, and kindle in the bosoms of remotest posterity a detestation and horror of an idolatrous superstition which countenanced such abandoned wickedness, should be offensive to the eyes of the papists, atheists, and radicals of our own times, is to us no matter of marvel; and that it should be their anxious wish to efface the inscription, preparatory to the entire overthrow of the column, is perfectly in accordance with all the unprincipled conduct of the faction. There fortunately, however, remains one plan, at least, by which this malice may be defeated, and the real principles of popery more extensively made known,—we mean through the medium of the press; and on this consideration we have thought it our duty to collect all existing records upon the point, and lay before our readers the result of our researches : at the same time, to increase the interest of the detail, a plate, taken from the new opening at the corner of Cannon-street, is inserted, which is far more correct than any hitherto published.
The Monument is undoubtedly the noblest modern column in the world; and may, indeed, in some respects, vie with those celebrated ones of antiquity, which are consecrated to the names of Trajan, Antoninus Pius, and Theodosius. Nothing can be more bold and surprising, nothing more beautiful and harmonious. The relief at the base, allowing for some few defects, is finely imagined and equally well executed. We cannot, however, conceive any thing more absurd than its situation on the east side near the foot of Fish-street-bill
, except the reason for placing it there, which will be gathered from the inscriptions.
Stowe observes, “ All this monument taken together is a curious piece of workmanship, and the charges in erecting the same amounted to £13,700 and upwards. The building loftily shews itself above the houses, and gives a gallant prospect for many miles round to those that are in the balcony; and it being such a curiosity, and that so many people have a desire to go up and look about them from thence, there is one that hath the keeping it, with a salary allowed for his attendance, besides the money that people give him."-Book II. p. 181.
It was erected by act of parliament, on the site of St. Margaret's church, in the ward of Bridge, about 130 feet from the very house where the fire began, September 2, 1666 : against which house (observes Stowe) when rebuilt, was cut in a stone this inscription :"
Here, by the permission of heaven, hell broke loose upon this protestant city, from the malicious hearts of barbarous papists, by the hand of their agent Herbert, who confessed, and
on the ruins of this place declared the fact, for which he was hanged, viz. That here began that dreadful fire, which is described and perpetuated on and by the neighbouring pillar. Erected anno 1681, in the mayorality of Sir Patience Ward.
The entire height of the monument is greater than either of those at Rome or Constantinople, being 202 feet; the pedestal being 40, the cippus or meta with the urn 42, the shaft 120, or 8 diameters of 15 feet, the true architectural proportion. The hollow cylinder, by which persons ascend to the balcony upon 345 steps of black marble, (each of which is 10] inches broad, and 6 thick,) is 9 feet wide, the walls being three in thickness. The urn, from whence issues a flame of burnished gold, is reached from the balcony by an iron ladder, from whence the spectator enjoys a fine view of the River Thames, and the parts adjacent.t
The following record was originally engraved round the bottom of the pedestal. It was, however, in the words of an old writer, “beaten out and entirely defaced," upon the accession of the popish King James II., but restored by King William III., his successor, of "glorious, pious, and immortal memory;" and remained, despite the anathema of Pope
“Where London's column, pointing at the skies,
Like a tall bully, lists its head and lies," till the revolutionists of the city, emboldened by the concession of government to the clamours of the papists, to the eternal disgrace of London, again defaced it in the year 1830. We have, however, placed our impress upon it—“Esto perpetua :"
This pillar was set up in perpetual remembrance of the most dreadful burning of this protestant city, begun and carried on by the treachery and malice of the popish faction, in the beginning of September, in the year of our Lord
This stone was removed many years since, and a board with the inscription painted thereon placed in its stead: but even this has become matter of history.
+ Antoninus' pillar at Rome is 1724 feet in height and 12 feet 3 inches diameter; that of Trajan 147 feet high ; as also Theodosius's at Constantinople,
| This Resolution, which passed Dec. 6, 1830, was carried into effect on the 26th of January last, when the erasure of the inscription commenced; in speaking of which, a writer in the Gentleman's Magazine observes : “ However we may regret the existence of the feeling which gave rise to the inscriptions, it is difficult to see the wisdom which led to their removal, in a period when the sting was removed, and they were only regarded as a vestige of past intolerance and fanatical credulity; and if all monuments of a like description were to be destroyed with as little discrimination, alas for our antiquities !” We should be much gratified in learning the sources from which this writer, as well as the sapient common councilmen of London, derived their exclusive information respecting the origin of the fire; as we must confess, that at present we see no reason to doubt the testimony of contemporaries, who, una voce, attribute it to the papists; and the history of popery is by no means deficient in similar atrocities.
Y.DC.Lxvi, in order to their effecting their horrid plot for the extirpating the protestant religion and English liberties, and to introduce popery and slavery.
In Wren's " Parentalia” we are informed, that “the design for the pillar was originally somewhat different, and after a peculiar device. For as the Romans expressed by relievo on their pedestals, and round the shafts of their columns, the history of such actions and incidents as were intended to be thereby commemorated, so this monument of the conflagration and resurrection of the city of London was represented by a pillar in flames; the flames, blazing from the loopholes of the shaft intended to give light to the stairs within, were in brass and gilt work, and on the top was a phenix rising from her asbes, also of brass gilt.” The first plan also was on a reduced scale, the diameter proposed being only 14 feet; and even when the present structure was completed, Sir Christopher Wren was desirous that, instead of the urn, a colossal statue in brass gilt of King Charles II., as founder of the new city, should terminate the column, after the manner of the Romans - or else the figure erect of a woman crowned with turrets, holding a sword and cap of maintenance, with other ensigns of the city's grandeur and re-erection.
It is likewise affirmed, but upon what authority we do not pretend to know, that the illustrious architect, who was no mean astronomer, constructed the monument hollow, that it might serve as a tube to discover the parallax of the earth, by the different distances of the star in the head of the dragon, from the zenith at different seasons of the year; but finding it was liable to be shaken by the motion of the coaches and carts almost constantly passing by, he laid that thought aside.
It is of the Doric order, erected upon a vault of stone, arched, and composed throughout, with the exception of the staircase, of Portland stone ; the plinth is 27 feet square, the sides of the pedestal 211. Upon the west side of the base is represented in relief, carved by Mr. Cibber, father of the poet laureat, the destruction of the city by fire, and its restitution.* First, is the figure of a woman, (representing London,) sitting on ruins in a most disconsolate posture, her head hanging down and her hair dishevelled; a sword is lying by her, on which her left hand carelessly rests. Behind her Time, with his wings and bald head, is seen to approach, with the manifest intention of consoling her, by pointing out the future destiny of the city; whilst another figure, with a winged sceptre, is directing her attention upwards to two goddesses seated in the clouds -- one with a cornucopia emblematic of plenty; the other with a palm branch, representing peace and victory. Beneath, in the midst of the ruins, appears a dragon, with his paw upon the shield of a red cross, the arms of London. Above are houses burning, and flames bursting through the windows; and in the distance, the citizens and their families with uplifted hands in various attitudes of grief and despair. Opposite is exhibited a raised pavement, upon which stands King Charles II. in a Roman costume, crowned with laurel, and holding a truncheon in his right hand, evidently in the act of approaching the above female, and commanding three others
* The eleven principal figures are in alto, the rest in basso relievo. VOL. XIV. NO, I.