Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

sanitation which would replace the old cesspool and the public latrine; and the introduction of a plentiful supply of water for the washing of the people, as well as for their drink and for the flooding of the streets. Somewhere or other-it must be between Dowgate and Mincing Lane — there is still existing under ground the great Roman Cloaca; it is an additional proof of the desertion and desolation of the City after the Romans went away that the Cloaca was forgotten, choked up, and its mouth covered over; the creation of the foreshore covered

Had it been found, say, in the thirteenth or fourteenth century, the whole modern sanitary system might have been invented and developed by its means, and so the Plague would have been stayed. I have attempted to present an adequate account of the Plague from contemporary evidence. As regards the Fire I have essayed a restoration of the City before and after that

it up.

event.

Turning to events political, I have already stated the difficulties which confront the historian of London in this century. The reader will not look here for a detailed history of the Civil War or the Protectorate. I hope, however, that he will find some indication of the way in which the people of London regarded the events which were working out their redemption for them, in ways which were unexpected, by trials which were hard to bear, and after a time when all seemed lost.

Considering London alone, the Restoration seems to me to have been a natural, a wholesome, and a most fortunate reaction against the successive rule of Presbyterian, Independent, and Captain or Colonel. It must have become quite clear even to men like Milton, who was one of the last to lift his voice against the return of a king, that a Commonwealth was too far in advance of the people, and that a military despotism was intolerable.

In the same way the Revolution was a swing back of the pendulum; it was quite as natural and as salutary as the rebellion against Charles and the Restoration of his son. I read this lesson clearly in the history of London, and I assume it for the history of the country.

Meantime let it be remembered that the seventeenth century secured the country for two hundred years, i.e. to the present day at least, and, so far as can be prophesied, for an indefinite period yet to come, from the personal interference

of the sovereign.

That is an enormous gain to the country. We are no longer called upon to discuss the Prerogative. The attempted encroachments of George III. appear as mere trifles compared with the monstrous claims of Charles the First and the almost incredible acts of tyranny recorded of his son and successor. And in the achievement of this great result London in the seventeenth century played a noble part and earned the deepest gratitude of all those who came, or shall come, after.

WALTER BESANT.

« ZurückWeiter »