Posts tagged ‘great fire of london’

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Londineses Lacrymæ: Londons Second Tears Mingled with her Ashes by John Crouch

Thou Queen of Cities, whose unbounded fame
Shadow’d thy Country and thy Countries Name!
London! that word fill’d the vast Globe; Japan
Saluted Londoner for English-man.
‘Twas thy peculiar, and unrivall’d pride
At greatest distance to be magnify’d.
When thy next Christian Sister scarce do’s know
Whether there be another World or no:
When the false Dutch more known in Forreign parts,
Buy scorn with gold; Merchants of wealth not hearts.
Good Heavens, good in the most severe Decree!
Must London first burn in Epitomie,
And then in gross? Must, O sharp vengeance! Must
The Glory of the World kiss her own dust?
Shall then this Mole-Hill, and it’s Ants expire
By parcels, some by water, some by fire?
Or do great things, like restless Circles, tend
From their first point, unto the last, their End?
When neither Forreign nor Domestick Wars,
The Distillations of malignant Stars,
Thunder from Heaven, nor it’s Terrestial Ape
Gun-powder, could thy total ruine shape;
Nor the long smotherings of Fanatick heats,
Which when they broke out ended in cold sweats:
Shall Balls of Sulphur (Hells blew Tapers) light
Poor London to its fun’ral in one night?
Shall Britains great Metropolis become
Alike in both her Fortunes to old Rome?
Whose Seat (if we believe Antiquitie)
Is full as old, though not so proud as she;
Surviv’d the Cornucopia of her Hills:
Time, strongest Towns, as well as Bodies, kills!
But when her Life had drawn so long a breath,
Must she be mow’d down by a sudden Death?
Three days undo three thousand years? O yes,
One day (when that one comes) shall more than this;
Shall make the World one fatal Hearth, That Day
The last that ever Hearth shall Tribute pay;
Though now as just as Law; (And they that Curse
This Duty, may they want both Hearth and Purse.)
But as in three days our Jerus’lem fell,
And gave the World an easie miracle:
So three (O golden Number) years being gone,
Shall spring old London’s Resurrection.
Now (dearest City) let my Pencil trace
The scatter’d lines of thy dis-figur’d Face;
Dropping tears as I pass; tears shed too late
To quench thy Heats, and bribe thy stubborn fate!
This dreadful Fire first seiz’d a narrow Lane,
As if the Dutch or French had laid a Train.
But grant they or that Boutifeu their Roy,
Form’d this Cheval for Britain’s envy’d Troy;
These might the stroke, did not the wound dispense,
Were but the Vulcans of Jove’s Providence.
Sin was the Common Cause, no faction freed;
Here all dissenting Parties were agreed.
And let the Author of our welfare, be
The welcome Author of our Miserie!
Rather than Enemies, who but fulfil
Heavens just decrees, more by Instinct then Skill!
The fierce flame gathering strength had warm’d th’Air
And chill’d the people into cold despair:
With swift wing from it straitned Corner posts,
And forth-with Fish-street and fat East-cheap rosts.
Sunday (to scourge our guilty Rest with shame)
Had giv’n, full dispensation to the flame.
Now London-Bridge (expected to provide
Auxiliar forces from the other side)
Alarum’d by the fall of Neighb’ring Bells
Takes fire, and sinks into its stony Cells;
Blocks up the way with rubbish, and dire flames,
Threatning to choke his undermining Thames.
Southwark, shut out, on it’s own banks appear’d
As once when fiery Cromwell domineer’d.
Thames-street hastens it ashes, to prevent
All aids and succours from the River sent.
The heated wind his flaming arrows cast,
Which snatch’d both ends, and burnt the middle last.
Now the proud flame had took the open field
And after hearts were vanquish’d, all things yeild!
Rores thorough Cannon-street and Lombardie
Triumphing o’re the Cities Liberty.
This fiery Dragon, higher still it flyes,
The more extends his wings, and louder cryes.
Just so that spark of Treason, (first supprest
In the dark angles of some private brest)
Breaks through the Mouth and Nostrills into Squibs,
And having fir’d the Author’s reins and ribs,
Kindles from man to man by subtile Art,
Till Rebells are become the major part:
Thus late Fanaticks in their Zeal of pride
March from close Wood-street into broad Cheap-side.
Now all in Coaches, Carrs, and Waggons flye,
London is sack’d withour an Enemy.
All things of beauty, shatter’d lost and gone;
Little of London whole but London-stone.
As if those Bull-works of her Wall and Thames
Serv’d but to Circle, and besiege her flames!
Such active Rams beat from each opposite Wall,
You would have judg’d the fire an Animal.
When (strangely) it from adverse Windows ror’d:
Neighbour his Neighbour kindl’d and devour’d.
Houses the Churches, Churches Houses fir’d,
While profane Sparks against divine conspir’d.
This devastation makes one truth appear,
How sanctimonious our fore-fathers were;
How thick they built their Temples, long conceal’d
By lofty Buildings, now in flames reveal’d.
Then one small Church serv’d many Preists, but they
The truth is, eat not rost meat every day.
Now the profane, not superstitious Rout
(Whose faith ascends no higher than to doubt)
May, without help of weekly papers, tell
Their Churches, to their Eyes made visible.
Our Non-conformists (if not harden’d) may
Scatter some tears, where once they scorn’d to pray.
Now the Imperious Element did range
Without Controle, kept a full Ev’ning Change.
Where the religious Spices for some Hours,
Seem’d to burn Incense to th’ incensed Powers.
At last the flame grown quite rebellious, calls
Our Sacred Monarchs to new Funeralls.
The Conquerour here Conquer’d, tumbles down
As Conscious of the burthen of a Crown.
Only the good old Founder, standing low,
His Station kept, and saw the dismal Show.
Though the Change broke, he’s not one penny worse,
Stands firm resolv’d to visit his new Burse.
Which by her Opticks happily was sav’d,
And for the honour of the City pav’d.
Here a good sum of active Silver rais’d
Th’ ingenious Beggar, and wise Donors prais’d.
All fall to work, assisted by the Guard,
To whom, and money, nothing seemed hard.
Here fires met fires, but industry reclaims
Lost hope, and quench’d a Parliament of flames.
Mean time the Neighb’ring Steeple trembling stood,
Defended not by Stone, nor Brick, but Wood:
Yet was secure ’cause low; to let us see
What safety waits upon humilitie!
When Lawrence, Three-Cranes, Cornhill, lofty Bow,
Are all chastis’d, for making a proud show.
One Steeple lost its Church, but not one Bell;
Reserv’d by fate to Ring the City’s Knell.
Now the Circumference from every part
The Center scalds; poor London pants at heart!
Cheapside the fair, is at a fatal loss
Wants the old blessing of her golden Cross.
Poor Paul the Aged has been sadly tost,
Reform’d, then after Reformation lost;
Plac’d in a Circle of Heaven’s fiery wrath:
The Saint was tortur’d when he broke his Faith!
At the East-End a spacious sheet of Lead
(Rent from the rest) his Altar canoped;
But from its Coale below strange fires did rise,
And the whole Temple prov’d the sacrifice.
Altars may others save, but cannot be
(When Heaven forsakes ’em) their own Sanctuarie!
Then was their doleful Musick as the Quire,
When the sweet Organs breath was turn’d to fire.
Was ‘t not enough the holy Church had been
Invaded in her Rites and Discipline?
Must her known Fundamentals be baptiz’d
In purging flames, and Paul’s School chatechiz’d?
She that had long her tardy Pupills stripp’d,
Is now her self with fiery Scorpions whipp’d.
But when I pass the sacred Martyrs West
I close my Eyes and smite my troubled Breast;
What shall we now for his dear Mem’ry do
When fire un-carves, and Stones are mortal too?
Let it stand un-repair’d, for ever keep
Its mournful dress, thus for its Founder weep.
By this time Lud with the next Newgate smokes,
And their dry Pris’ners in the Dungeon chokes;
Who left by Keepers to their own reprives
Broke Goale, not for their Liberty but Lives;
While good Eliza on the out-side Arch
Fir’d into th’ old Mode, stands in Yellow Starch.
Though fancy makes not Pictures live, or love,
Yet Pictures fancy’d may the fancy move:
Me-thinks the Queen on White-Hall cast her Eye;
An Arrow could not more directly flye.
But when she saw her Palace safe, her fears
Vanish, one Eye drops smiles, the other tears.
Where (Christ-Church) is thy half-Cathedral now?
Fallen too? then all but Heaven to Fate must bow!
Where is thy famous Hospital? must still
The greatest good be recompens’d with ill?
That House of Orphans clad in honest blew;
The World’s Example, but no parallel knew.
Cold Charity has been a long Complaint,
Here she was too warm like a martyr’d Saint.
Where are those stately Fabricks of our Halls,
Founders of sumptuous Feasts and Hospitalls?
Where is the Guild, that place of grand resort
For Civil Rights, the Royal Cities Court?
Forc’d to take Sanctuary in the Tower,
To show, what safety is in Regal Power!
Not Gog or Magog could defend it; These
Had they had sense, had been in Little-Ease.
Chymnies and shatter’d Walls we gaze upon
Our Bodie Politicks sad Skeleton!
Now was the dismal Conflagration stopp’d,
Having some branches of the Suburbs lopp’d.
Though most within the verge; As if th’ ad show’d
Their mutual freedome was to be destroy’d.
When after one dayes rest. The Temple smokes,
And with fresh fires and fears the Strand provokes
But with good Conduct all was slak’d that night
By one more valiant than a Templar Knight.
Here a brisk Rumour of affrighted Gold
Sent hundreds in; more Covetous than bold.
But a brave Seaman up the Tyles did skip
As nimbly as the Cordage of a Ship,
Bestrides the sings’d Hall on its highest ridge,
Moving as if he were on London-Bridge,
Or on the Narrow of a Skullers Keel:
Feels neither head nor heart nor spirits reel.
Had some few Thousands been as bold as hee,
And London, in her fiery Tryal free;
Then (with submission to the highest will)
London now buried had been living still.
Thus Chant the people, who are seldom wise
Till things be past, before-hand have no Eyes.
But when I sigh my self into a pause,
I find another more determin’d cause:
Had Tyber swell’d his monstrous Waves, and come
Over the seven Hills of our flaming Rome,
‘T had been in vain: no less than Noah’s flood.
Can quench flames kindled by a Martyr’s blood.
Now Loyal London has full Ransome paid
For that Defection the Disloyal made:
Whose Ashes hatch’d by a kind Monarch’s breath,
Shall rise a fairer Phoenix after Death.

From: Crouch, John, Londineses Lacrymæ Londons Second Tears Mingled with her Ashes: A Poem, 2007, Text Creation Partnership: Ann Arbor, Michigan and Oxford.
(http://name.umdl.umich.edu/A35206.0001.001)

Date: 1666

By: John Crouch (fl. 1660-1681)