A Portion Of The Strand.
On my first visit to London, one of its most interesting objects was a grimy gateway, known as Temple Bar, which had for centuries marked the terminus of the Strand and the commencement of the "City" proper. The contracted opening of this gate, at the converging point of two congested thoroughfares, reminded me of an hour-glass through which the sands of life were running fast; and I could understand the sentiment of Doctor Johnson, when he said:
"It is my practice, when I am in want of amusement, to place myself for an hour at Temple Bar, and examine, one by one, the looks of the passengers".
Palace And Barber Shop.
Old Temple Bar.
It seems a pity to have destroyed this celebrated landmark of Old London, as was done in 1878. Without too much impediment to traffic, another arch could certainly have been constructed here, which by a preservation of the ancient form, at least, would have reminded one of its historic predecessor; but now the memory of Temple Bar is guarded only by an unimpressive column, surmounted by adragon,and adorned with statues of the Queen and the Prince of Wales. The sentiment of which that ancient portal was the symbol was peculiar; since it defined the respective powers of the English Sovereign and the Lord Mayor of London, who, by the way, is not the Mayor of the whole metropolis, but only of the "City." The latter was tenacious of his rights, and whenever the King or Queen of England desired to enter his domain, Temple Bar was always closed until, after an interchange of courtesies, the gateway was thrown open, and the Lord Mayor presented the keys of the city to his royal master who at once returned them. Such was the ceremony enacted here when Elizabeth went to
The Temple Bar Memorial.
St. Paul's Cathedral to thank God for the destruction of the Spanish Armada; and again, in 1649, when Cromwell passed within the "City" to dine in state, and so it has been with Queen Victoria, whenever she has made her public entries into oldest London. Here, also, in the days when a display of ghastly horrors was thought to keep men from committing crimes, the heads or limbs of those who had been executed for high treason were exhibited. Occasionally, too, the living suffered here. It was, for example, in front of Temple Bar that the impostor, Titus Oates, held up to the derision of the public, was pelted with rotten eggs and dead cats; and here, on the contrary, Defoe - the author of "Robinson Crusoe" - also placed in the pillory for criticism of the Government, enjoyed a perfect ovation from the people, who drank his health and wreathed the arch with flowers. The environs of Temple Bar are rich in literary memories. In fact, for one who takes delight in English literature and its heroes, London has a fascination incomparably greater than that of any other city in the world. For, in every period of English history, the strong thinkers, able writers, and inspired poets of the kingdom have naturally gravitated hither, and from this centre of mentality the influence of their thought has radiated over the entire earth. Associations with great names in letters bloom like flowers along the historic pathway of Old England; and there is scarcely one of the older parts of London that is not made attractive by some literary charm, from the site of the Old Tabard Inn, whence Chaucer's Canterbury Pilgrims set out in the early dawn of English poetry, down to the places linked imperishably with the wit and pathos of Charles Dickens. In Cheapside, for example, is the site of the Mermaid Tavern, where Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Beaumont, Fletcher, and other members of the brilliant circle of their day, were wont to meet; and in the same locality, a few generations later, was born the poet who made "Paradise" the subject of his song. On the Adelphi Terrace is the house (now let in "chambers") where David Garrick lived and died; and, not a stone's throw from the Strand, within the shadow of the Temple Church, is the grave of Goldsmith.