Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 457 - Volume 18, New Series, October 2, 1852
Author: Various
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Among many curious proofs of the wide grasp of the all-absorbing metropolis, we may adduce the horror of the Pentonvillians at the proposed new cattle-market. How many years ago is it since Copenhagen Fields were almost beyond the regions of civilisation, known only as a prairie lying between London and the Copenhagen Tea-gardens? Let any one, whose knowledge of the district goes back fifteen or twenty years, answer this question. But now, Copenhagen House itself is brought within the limits of London, by rows of goodly houses belting it in on the north; and the gentilities of the new town are shocked at the threatened advent of bullocks and sheep.

If we look into the stupendous London Directory, it does not remove our troubles; it gives us the names of nearly 7000 streets, places, roads, squares, circuses, crescents, quadrants, rows, hills, lanes, yards, buildings, courts, alleys, gardens, greens, mews, terraces, and walks, but it does not tell us how far the suburbs are included, nor what are the principles which determine the inclusion or exclusion.

In short, we began by asking a question, and must end by leaving it unanswered. Although tolerably familiar with London, we cannot tell—'Where does London end?'


It is well known, that in the manufacture or preparation of most articles in the arts, the main cost lies in the judicious application of skilled labour. The value of the raw material is usually of comparative small amount. A pound's worth of iron makes six hundred pounds' worth of penknives; and cotton, which in the state of gingham may be bought at 3d. per yard, is sold for the same weight as gold in threads for Brussels lace.

It is therefore obvious, that the great advantage of cheap raw material is in the rude stages of manufactures, or when our skill in production is not inferior to that possessed by our neighbours. In a manufacture in which the cost of the finished article is several hundred times the price of the materials used to make it, it is skill, and not the original cost of the material, that determines successful competition.

We find that all European nations except England, have accepted this fact as a principle of state, and have founded schools and colleges to train their industrial population in the knowledge of art and science, which are the only true foundations of practical skill in an advanced stage of civilisation. In fact, we in this country have for some years seen this truth, so far as art is involved, and have established Schools of Design; but we have forgotten that art in industry is chiefly used to adorn the productions of science, and have neglected the latter. What circumstances have happened in the last few years in the history of the world, that compel an allusion to this neglect in a speech from the throne?

The marking features of our age are the great economy of time, and the practical abbreviation of space. Coal and iron are now transported by other means than by slow-going trains or coast-hugging luggers. Iron horses, which feed on coal and drink only water, go screaming over the country at a gigantic pace, dragging with them the whole produce of coalmines and ironworks. Marine monsters, related to these, plough the ocean, and scatter our natural riches over the world, receiving in exchange the produce of other climes. The earth is bound round by chains, which render geographical distribution arbitrary distinctions, and enable thought to be reciprocated without being arrested by distance in space. Blind must be the nation that does not see in all this an alteration of conditions, which introduce new elements into the competition of industry. The changes may be summed up in the remark, that as improved locomotion distributes raw material to all lands at a very slightly increased cost for the transit, manufacturing competition among nations is resolved into a race for intellectual pre-eminence.

This truth is less likely to be speedily acknowledged by us, because if our native science languishes, we have yet capital to import it; and we do not see that this is only accelerating our overthrow. But the relative influence of abundance in raw material, and the application of science to its development, may be seen by an illustration from a barbarous country, in which the former is plentiful, and the latter is beginning to shine on it by means of an enlightened prince.

Siam, as our readers know, is an important kingdom situated between the Burman Empire on the one hand, and Cochin-China on the other. It abounds in natural resources, but exports only sugar, spices, drugs, and lead, and these only in comparatively small quantity; yet it has gold enough to make pavements for the sacred white elephants, and to throw down into the unfathomed abyss in the Cavern of the Sun. Of antimony, there are stores sufficient to render lustrous the eyes of the black-teethed beauties of Siam; while silver, iron, copper, lead, and fuel, are known to abound in these favoured regions. Yet with all these local advantages, it is nearly certain that we could, in spite of the distance, successfully compete with the productions of copper and iron in their own markets, because we have applied science to their extraction and preparation.

Siam, like nations nearer home, is very proud of its own industry, and of its position among the states of the earth; and it may well be, seeing that its king is hereditary lord of the stars, and gives them permission to move in their orbits. The presumptive heir to the stars thought one day he would like to know what Europeans believed of his celestial powers, so he studied mathematics and astronomy from English books, afterwards extending his knowledge to navigation, to the natural sciences, and to English literature. Prince Chow Faa, who has, since April 1851, succeeded his sensual and ignorant brother, under the new appellation of King Somdet Phra Chom Klow, found his knowledge of science thus acquired a prodigious power in the improvement of his future terrestrial kingdom, although his celestial possessions vanished at the same time. Like Prince Henry of Portugal, the Siamese prince believed that the only princely talent worth cultivating, was 'the talent to do good;' and under his mental vigour, this distant kingdom began to develop in a wonderful manner. Like Peter the Great, he founded dockyards, and built ships of war equal to first-class English vessels, navigating them, not by eyes painted in front, as of old, but by chronometers and Greenwich tables. He introduced European discipline into the army, and taught it how to use artillery. He obtained miners of talent to examine into his mines, and the mode of working in them; but in his reforms he awakened the jealousy of the king and of the priesthood, and for the last few years has been obliged to conceal his talents and good designs under the yellow garb of a priest, which he threw off in the April of last year, a few days previous to the opening of our Great Exhibition.

In this case of a semi-barbarous nation, we see clearly that knowledge is power, and more surely is it so with regard to competing civilised nations. We, too, have a prince highly educated in science and in art, who is endeavouring to impress upon his nation the benefits of science. At the same time that the Siamese prince threw off the yellow robe of superstition and ignorance, the prince of this country invited all nations to throw off their robes of prejudice and vanity, and, in his own words, to commence at 'this new starting-point, from which all nations will be able to direct their future exertions.' It was a capital idea to make each nation the judge of its own position, by shewing to what point other states had attained. Our thinking men—our Brewsters, Herschels, Babbages, and a host of others—have declared that our deficiencies arise from neglecting science in its application to industry; and the general feeling of the public has ratified this judgment by their consent. In another article, we will allude to the means of accomplishing this want; but in the meanwhile may conclude by drawing attention to a couple of sentences uttered on a late occasion by Prince Albert:—'Man's reason being created after the image of God, he has to use it to discover the laws by which the Almighty governs his creation, and by making these laws his standard of action, to conquer nature to his use—himself a divine instrument. Science discovers these laws of power, motion, and transformation; industry applies them to the raw matter which the earth yields us in abundance, but which becomes valuable only by knowledge; art teaches us the immutable laws of beauty and symmetry, and gives to our productions forms in accordance with them.'


Where did England plant her first colony? 'Why, in North America, to be sure,' says a transatlantic cousin: 'on those shores to which our fathers resorted during the seventeenth century, for the enjoyment of civil and religious liberty, and where they laid the foundation of those States whose wealth and power are now the wonder of the world.' Stay, Cousin Jonathan, not so fast. 'We reckon' that England made an experiment in colonisation some 250 years earlier than that, and one no less demonstrative of the enterprise and hardihood of our ancestors. There was a spot nearer home, the stronghold of a nest of pirates, who were to England such an annoyance as the corsairs of Algiers proved in later times to Southern Europe; and our monarch, provoked by their numerous and daring outrages, and carrying with him the enthusiastic concurrence of his people, resolved to dispossess them. Crossing the water in person, with 738 vessels of war, and a numerous army, he invested the place both by sea and land; and finding that it could not be taken by storm, he sat patiently down for nearly eleven months outside the walls, till the inhabitants were starved into a surrender. But every reader of history is familiar with the siege of Calais, so gallantly prosecuted by the English under Edward III., so gallantly endured by the French under Sir John de Vienne.

As soon as the keys were surrendered, the town was cleared not only of the soldiery, but of all the inhabitants, men, women, and children, the king's determination being to repeople it entirely with English. 'Thus all manner of people,' says a historian of 1688, 'were turned out of the town, except one priest, and two other ancient men, who understood the customs, laws, and ordinances of the place, and how to point out and assign the lands that lay about, as well as the several inheritances, as they had been divided before. And when all things were duly prepared for the king's reception, he mounted his war-horse, and rode into Calais with a triumphant clamour of trumpets, clarions, and tabours;' the drum now sounding for the first time on French ground. The great lords, who, with their feudal retinues, had assisted in the siege, were rewarded with gifts of 'many fair houses' and lands, that through their tenantry and retainers they might assist in defending the new colony. Abundant encouragement was also given for the emigration of the stout men of Kent, and the substantial citizens of London, with their families. The streets and principal buildings received English names, and the borough was organised in unison with English feeling, being governed by a mayor and corporation. Thus commenced in August 1347 England's first colony, which in due time was represented in the home parliament by two members of the House of Commons.

The English Pale, as this settlement was called, had a seaboard extending about eight leagues, while it stretched some three leagues into the interior. Within this space, a considerable population was located, not only much more numerous than in the present day, but including a much greater number of trades-people dealing in articles of luxury, as we infer from some records of Henry VIII.'s expenditure, which include, for instance, dealings with five different jewellers. There is still existing at Calais a curious chart, dated 1460, containing a minute specification of the roads, farm-steads, mills, quarries, and bulwarks, as they then existed. Here are 'English Street,' 'Knight Street,' 'Evelyne's Waye,' 'Ye waye from Marck to St Peter's,' and 'Ye new main Bank.' Many of the larger country dwellings, which are rudely depicted, appear more like rustic fortalices than farmhouses of our day. Numerous towers, marked as 'bulwarks,' seem to have commanded the boundary and other more exposed parts of the Pale. The only road across the 'marishes' on the south and south-west was commanded by Fort Nieulay—then called Newlandbridge—a place of great importance, originally built in an extensive morass, and furnished with sluice-gates to the sea, which enabled its holders to flood the surrounding country at will. Not only the fortifications then existing, but those which succeeded them in later times, are now in ruin; but the curious traveller finds remains enough to repay a stroll among the grass-covered bastions.

In the town, we find Castle Street, Duke Street, Hill Street, Shoe Lane, and Love Lane—names which smack unmistakably of the island home of John Gibbons, Hugh Giles, Richard Gilbert, and other colonial householders, whose names appear on a still existing rent-roll.

Though the English monarch was instigated to the capture and colonisation of Calais mainly with a view to dislodge the pirates, who issued from its fastnesses and harassed our navigation, yet he very soon learned to appreciate the possession of such a frontier port and fortress as a depot for purposes of aggression, as well as a means of maritime protection. Moreover, it was afterwards perceived, that immense gain would accrue to the Exchequer from the maintenance of this station as a port of entree into the Netherlands for English manufactures; and though at a day when knight-errantry was infinitely more in vogue than commercial enterprise, these interests were carefully studied, so that the conquest of a small piratical town was turned to vastly better account than had been anticipated.

The preservation of a settlement so important, and yet surrounded by an inveterately hostile people, demanded no ordinary vigilance. The keeping of it was accordingly always committed to one of the most trusty of the English barons, with the title of lord-deputy, and the command of a sufficient garrison; while no expense was spared on the works necessary for its maintenance. There were stringent laws for the daily opening and closing of the gates, which were superintended by a knight or master-porter, and a gentleman-porter, with a staff of subordinates. The lord-deputy himself received the keys every evening, and delivered them in the morning to the knight-porter, with orders as to the number of gates to be opened for the day. This was done as soon as the first watch-bell had tolled three times, and the guard turned out. During the time of dinner, which was an hour before noon, the gates were invariably closed, and the keys again delivered to the lord-deputy, by whom they were 'hidden in a safe place, known only to himself.' When the meal was ended, and business resumed, they were reopened with the same ceremony as in the morning; and at four o'clock P.M., they were shut for the night. Except by special order of the deputy, none but the Lanthorn Gate was opened during the herring season. There were strict regulations also with regard to strangers lodging in the town; the keepers of hostelries and lodging-houses being sworn to make a daily report of the number and quality of their guests. The French, by the way, have deemed it proper to maintain this custom of the place, despite the lapse of four centuries since its peculiar position rendered such espionage a necessary precaution.

During the 200 years that we boasted the possession of Calais, it was often the scene of courtly festivities on a magnificent scale—oftener, perhaps, than any other spot under English dominion, except the metropolis. We need scarcely remind the reader of the marriage of Richard II. with the youthful Isabella of Valois in the church of St Nicholas, a fete which cost the English monarch 300,000 marks; nor the rendezvous of Henry VIII. and Francis I., called the Field of the Cloth of Gold from the sumptuousness of the royal pavilions, and other accessories, the preparation of which employed above 2000 English artificers. We have before us a collection of annals,[3] recently published, chiefly from rare and ancient documents, and affording such details of the 'fashionable arrivals' here as give us a high idea of what this our first colony was capable of doing in its palmy days.

There landed, for instance, on the 8th of May 1500, Henry VII., accompanied by his queen, the Bishop of London, the Duke of Buckingham, the Earls of Surrey and Essex, with several other noblemen. Closely following, came the Earl of Suffolk, with an immense retinue of esquires, gentlemen, and yeomen; the Bishop of Durham, the Earl of Ormond, with seven other noblemen and gentlemen of rank; and in the following month, the Earl of Northumberland, Lord Mountjoy, Lord Devonshire, Sir John Wyngfielde, and their retinues, to assist at a magnificent banquet given by Henry to the Archduke Philip of Burgundy. Nothing, as our annalist observes, but numbers, real names, and dates, can effectually enable the reader to form a notion of the state, 350 years ago, of this at present trist and unimportant frontier town. And even with these authentic data before us, it appears surprising how such a host of nobility, with their numerous retainers, should have been adequately lodged within the walls of Calais, on viewing the existing proportions of the town. The banquet was given at St Peter's, just without the walls—for it seems not to have been the mode to invite continental guests to 'walk inside'—the fine old parish church being partitioned off into various apartments for the guests, and richly hung with arras and cloth of gold.

'Our Lady's Chapel was set apart for the archduke's chamber, the walls being hung with arras representing the story of Ahasuerus and Esther, and the floor laid with carpets strewed with roses, lavender, and other sweet herbs. Another compartment of the church was hung with tapestry, representing the siege of Troy; the walls of the choir being covered with blue cloth, emblazoned with fleurs-de-luce. The vestry was hung with "red sarsenet, most richly beseen;" whilst the belfry was ordained for the offices of the pantry, confectionary, and cellar. There "lacked neither venison, cream, spice-cakes, strawberries, or wafers," as the chronicler expresses it; an English fat ox was "poudered and lesed;" an immense number of young kids and venison-pasties were consumed, besides "great plenty of divers sorts of wine, and two hogsheads of hippocrass." Seven horse-loads of cherries were eaten, besides "pypyns, grengenges, and other sugardys." The plenty was such, that the guests and their retainers could not consume all the viands the first day, wherefore the king ordered a second feast for the peasants, on the one following.'

One of the largest of the apartments formed in the church of St Pierre, was appropriated as the guest-chamber, in which Philip dined with Henry and his queen, the party eating off 'gold and silver vessels of goodlie fashion,' and pledging each other in 'cuppes and flagons of golde, garnyshed with perculles, rosys, and white hearts, in gemmes.' After dinner, the archduke 'daunced with the English ladyes,' then took leave of the king and queen, and rode the same evening to Gravelines.

Among the august personages who sojourned at Calais in days of yore, none excelled the gorgeous priest, Cardinal Wolsey, in the display of pomp, or in the number and quality of his retinue. On the 11th July 1527, his landing en route to Boulogne was attended by the Earl of Derby, the Bishops of London and Dublin; the Lords Monteagle and Harredew, with a staff of knights, secretaries, physicians, gentlemen-ushers, officers of the household, gentlemen of the chapel, and other retainers; the legate's train of attendants alone requiring 900 horses. But at the same time came the pope's nuncios, the French king's ambassadors, and the captain of Boulogne, 'with a goodlie companie,' to welcome him. On the occasion of a previous visit, he brought over 12 chaplains, 50 gentlemen, 238 servants, and 150 horses.

The Harleian and Cottonian Manuscripts are rich in interesting details of another fashionable arrival at Calais—that of Anne of Cleves, on her way to England to be united in marriage to Henry VIII. Her train was composed of 263 persons, including the Earls of Oversteyn and Roussenbergh, with their 'gentlemen, ladies, pages, officers, and servants.' The Lord High Admiral of England came over expressly to take command of the vessel destined to convey the bride across the Channel. Accompanied by the lord-deputy of Calais, and a numerous retinue, he went forth to meet the fiancee on her way from Gravelines. His dress, and that of his attendants, is recorded for our gratification:—'For he was apparelled in a coat of purple velvet, cut in cloth of gold, and tied with aigulets and trefoils of gold to the number of four hundred. Baldricwise, he wore a chain of strange fashion, to which was suspended a whistle of gold, set with precious stones of great value. The admiral's train consisted of thirty gentlemen of the king's household, apparelled with massive chains. Besides these, he had a great number of gentlemen of his own suite, in blue velvet and crimson satin, as well as the mariners of his ship, in satin of Bruges (blue), both coats and slops of the same colour—his yeomen being clad in blue damask.' A foul wind detained the lady here for fifteen days, 'during which time, in order to afford her recreation, jousts and banquets were got up by the authorities.' The simplicity with which our gracious Queen travels from the Isle of Wight to Aberdeenshire, or takes a trip across the Channel to see her uncle Leopold, makes us almost forget that such gorgeous state attended every step of royalty in the olden time. Glance we now a moment at the commercial aspect of Calais during the English occupancy.

The Staple-Hall or Wool Staple (now called the Cour de Guise) built by letters-patent from Richard II., dated 1389, was a singular combination of palace and market, exchequer and cloth-hall; the seat alike of royalty and trade; for here our English monarchs often lodged, and within these precincts our ancestors established their seat of custom, beneath the royal eye and roof-tree. Hither were not only the 'merchauntes and occupiers of all manner of wares and merchandizes' in England, but the 'merchauntes straungers' of the Low Countries invited by proclamation to resort and repair, from time to time, there to 'buy and sell, change and rechange, with perfect and equal freedom and immunity;' provided always the traffic or 'feates of merchandizes' were effected according to tariff; 'our dread and sovereigne lord the king mynding the wealth, increase, and enriching of his realm of England, and of this his town of Calais.' In the court of this our Calaisian Guildhall, the iron-clad man-at-arms, the gaily-decked esquire, or captain of the guard, used to mingle with the staid wool-staplers, clothiers, cutlers, or weavers, just arrived from our primitive manufacturing districts, laden with bales and hardwares for bartering with their colonial and Flemish customers; whilst the nobles, princes, and at times even the king of England, sat at the upper casements, countenancing if not enjoying the bustle of the mart. Immense fortunes were realised by the merchants of the Staple; they were often in a position to aid the exchequer of the mother-country; and one of them named Fermour was, from some patriotic act in money-matters, raised to the peerage under the title of Lord Pomfret. We are told that a great revenue was derived to the crown from the customs' duty here levied on wool; that which passed into the Netherlands alone amounting to 50,000 crowns per annum—an enormous sum in those days. Modern Vandalism has done for this building what time had failed to effect; and now there is little remains of it to gratify the antiquary, save its metamorphosed contour and a fine old gateway.

That a handful of troops and emigrant residents should have enjoyed for above two centuries the unmolested occupation of a sea-port town, and an extensive adjacent district, in one of the most powerful and warlike kingdoms of Europe, is a singular episode in the history of the two nations. At length, after an almost fabulous retention of the place, the very facility of tenure having led to heedlessness and neglect of proper precaution, the day of reprisal came. In 1558, the Duke of Guise, being put in command of a powerful army, effected its recapture without any signal display of valour on the one hand, or heroism on the other. On its surrender, the lord-deputy, with 50 of his officers, were detained as prisoners of war; the residue of the inhabitants had to turn out, as the French had done before, and were compelled to retire either to England or Flanders. All the property of every description was placed at the disposal of the conqueror, in honour of whom our famous Wool Staple was thenceforth called the Cour de Guise. The booty in gold, silver, and valuable merchandise was enormous, and even the common soldiers, we are told, made fortunes by their share of it. So perished England's first colony!


[3] Annals and Legends of Calais. By Robert B. Calton. London: J. R. Smith. 1852.


The city of Bang-kok, the capital of Siam, consists of a long, double, and, in some parts, treble row of neatly and tastefully painted wooden cabins, floating on thick bamboo rafts, and linked to each other, in parcels of six or seven houses, by chains; which chains were fastened to huge poles driven into the bed of the river. The whole city rose at once like a magic picture to our admiring gaze.... If the air of the 'Fleet Street' of Siam does not agree with Mrs Yowchowfow and her children, or they wish to obtain a more aristocratic footing by being domiciled higher up and nearer to the king's palace, all they have to do, is to wait till the tide serves, and, loosing from their moorings, float gently up towards the spot they wish to occupy. Bang-kok, the modern capital of Siam, and the seat of the Siamese government, was computed, at the period of my residence there, to consist of 70,000 floating houses or shops, and each shop, taking one with another, to contain five individuals, including men, women, and children; making the population amount to 350,000 souls, of which number 70,000 are Chinese, 20,000 Burmese, 20,000 Arabs and Indians; the remainder, or about 240,000, being Siamese. This was the best census we could take, and I believe it to be nearly accurate. The situation is exceedingly picturesque. I was told that, when the Siamese relinquished the ancient capital of Yuthia, and first established the throne at Bang-kok, the houses were built upon the banks of the river itself; but the frequent recurrence of the cholera induced one of the kings to insist upon the inhabitants living upon the water, on the supposition that their dwellings would be more cleanly, and, consequently, the inmates less subjected to the baneful effects of that scourge of the East.—Neale's Residence in Siam.




It was the hour for evening prayer—there came a goodly throng Within that dim cathedral church to join the vesper song; And she was there amid the crowd, and on the altar stair, As if she were alone she knelt in the depth of her despair.

She did not heed the many eyes upon her beauty turned; One vision still oppressed her soul, one grief within her burned. The tones of holy minstrelsy, the solemn anthem strain, They were like voices in a dream—as meaningless and vain.

Strange tumult reigned within her soul—there came a gush of tears, Deep, wild, as if it bore along the passion-flood of years; And 'Mary! Mary!' was her prayer, and 'Mary!' still she prays, 'O give me back the love of old—the light of other days!'

A deeper gloom o'erspread the aisles—the altar-lamp grew dim, And fainter still the echoes came from the dying vesper hymn; She listened for an answering voice—but no response was given: The marble steps were cold as death, and silence was in heaven.


Within that dim cathedral church once more she stood alone, When from her cheek, and brow, and eye, youth's loveliness had flown; She wandered down the gloomy aisles—no worshippers were there; And on the altar steps she knelt in the depth of her despair.

The sunset's parting gleam came down to kiss the pictured pane; Upon the marble stone it flung full many a crimson stain. There was a hush within the air—no holy chant arose To fill the aisles with joy, and break the spirit-like repose.

A broken reed, she lowly bent—life's passion dream was o'er, And there were tears—repentant tears—not like to those of yore; And murmurs of a nobler faith fixed on the sacred shrine, 'O human love so false, so vain! O love that is divine!'

Fair shone the symbol of the cross—the altar-lamp grew bright; There came a gleam like trembling stars athwart her spirit's night; She listened for an answering voice—the peace of God was given: The marble steps were cold as death, but gladness was in heaven!

* * * * *

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