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Charles II., in return, apparently, for giving his name to that famous Downing Street, ever since synonymous with English administration. If he has no other claim to our interest, that is perhaps enough; and the American who is too often abashed by the humility of our London origins may well feel a rise of worldly pride in the London celebrity of this quondam fellow-citizen. His personality is indeed lost in it, but his achievement in laying out a street, and getting it called after him, was prophetic of so much economic enterprise of ours that it may be fairly claimed as a national honor.
Of those who preferred not to risk the fate Dr. Johnson held in scorn, multitudes perished at Whitechapel of the plague which it was one of the poor compensations of life in New England to escape. They would all have been dead by now, whether they went or whether they stayed, though it was hard not to attribute their present decease solely to their staying, as we turned over the leaves of the old register in St. Mary Matfelon's, Whitechapel. The church has been more than once rebuilt out of recollection of its original self, and there were workman still doing something to the interior; but the sexton led us into the vestry, and while the sunlight played through the waving trees without and softly illumined the record, we turned page after page, where the names were entered in a fair clear hand, with the given cause of death shortened to the letters, pl., after each. They were such names as abounded in the colonies, and those who had borne them must have been of the kindred of the emigrants. But my patriotic interest in them was lost in a sense of the strong nerve of the clerk who had written their names and that "pl." with such an unshaken hand. One of the earlier dead, in the church-yard without, was a certain ragman,
Richard Brandon, of whom the register says: "This R. Brandon is supposed to have cut off the head of Charles the First."
From the parish of St. Botolph by Aldgate, on the road from Houndsditch to Whitechapel, came many of those who settled in Salem and the neighboring towns of Massachusetts. It is now very low church, as it probably was in their day, with a plain interior, and with the crimson foliage of the Virginia-creeper staining the light like painted glass at one of its windows. The bare triangular space in front of the church was once a pit where the dead of the plague were thrown, and in the sacristy is a thing of yet grislier interest. My friend made favor with some outlying authority, and an old, dim, silent servitor of some sort came back with him and took from a sort of cupboard, where it was kept in a glass box, the embalmed head of the Duke of Suffolk, which he lost for his part in the short-lived usurpation of his daughter, Lady Jane Grey. Little was left to suggest the mighty noble in the mummy-face, but the tragedy of his death was all there. It seemed as if the thoughts of the hideous last moment might still be haunting the withered brain, and the agony of which none of the dead have yet been able to impart a sense to the living, was present in it. As he who was showing us the head, turned it obligingly round in view of the expected shilling, and tilted it forward that we might see the mark of the axe in the severed neck, one seemed to see also the things which those sunken eyes had looked on last: the swarming visages of the crowd, the inner fringe of halberdiers, the black - visored figure waiting beside the block. As the doomed man dragged himself to the scaffold, how pale that face in the glass box must have been, for any courage that kept him above his fate. It
was all very vivid, and the more incredible therefore that such a devilish thing as the death - punishment should still be, and that governments should keep on surpassing in the anguish they inflict the atrocity of the cruelest murderers. If the Salem-born Hawthorne ever visited that church in remembrance of the fact that his people came from the same parish; if he saw the mortal relic which held me in such fascination that I could scarcely leave the place even when the glass box had been locked back in its cupboard, and if the spirits of the dead sometimes haunt their dust, there must have been a reciprocal intelligence between the dead and the living that left no emotion of the supreme hour unimparted.
We visited St. Sepulchre's where the truly sainted Roger Williams was baptized, and found entrance one day after two failures to penetrate to its very unattractive interior. We were lighted by stained-glass windows of geometrical pattern and a sort of calico or gingham effect in their coloring, to the tablet to Captain John Smith, whose life Pocahontas, in Virginia, with other ladies in divers parts of the world, saved, that we might have one of the most delightful, if not one of the most credible, of autobiographies. He was of prime colonial interest, of course, and we were not taken from the thought of him by any charm of the place; but when we had identified his time-dimmed tablet there was no more to do at St. Sepulchre's. The church is at the western end of Old Bailey, and in the dreadful old times when every Friday brought its batch of doomed men forth from the cells, it was the duty of the bellman of St. Sepulchre's to pass under the prison walls the night before and ring his bell, and chant the dismal lines:
"All you that in the condemned hold do lie,
When we consider what piety was in the past, we need not be so horrified by justice. Sentiment sometimes came in to heighten the effect of both, and it used to present each criminal in passing St. Sepulchre's on the way to Tyburn with a nosegay, and a little farther on with a glass of beer. The gardened strip of what once must have been a graveyard beside the church could hardly have afforded flowers enough for the pious rite. It was frequented, the day of our visit, by some old men of a very vacant-looking leisure, who sat on the benches in the path; and the smallest girl in proportion to the baby she carried that I ever saw in that England where small girls seem always to carry such very large babies, tilted back and forth with it in her slender arms, and tried to make-believe it was going to sleep.
The reader who prefers to develop these films for himself must not fail to bring out the surroundings of the places visited, if he would have the right effect. Otherwise he might suppose the several sanctuaries which we visited standing in a dignified space and hallowed quiet, whereas, all but a few were pushed close upon crowded streets, with the busy and noisy indifference of modern life passing before them and round them. St. Giles-in-the-Fields, which we visited after leaving St. Sepulchre, was the church in which Calvert, the founder
of Maryland, was baptized, of course before he turned Catholic, since it could not very well have been afterwards. At the moment, however, I did not think of this. I had enough to do with the fact that Chapman, the translator of Homer, was buried in that church, and Andrew Marvell, the poet, and that very wicked Countess of Shrewsbury, the terrible she who held the Duke of Buckingham's horse while he was killing her husband in a duel. I should, no doubt, have seen this memorable interior if it had still existed, but it was the interior of a church which was taken down more than a hundred years before the present church was built.
We visited the church on the way to Lincoln's Inn Fields, turning out of Holborn round the corner of the house, now a bookseller's shop, where Garrick died. I mention this merely as an instance of how the famous dead started out of the over-populated London past and tried at every step to keep me from my proper search for our meaner American origins. I was going to look at certain mansions, in which the Lords Baltimore used to live, and the patriotic Marylander, if he have faith enough, may identify them by their arches of gray stone at the first corner on his right in coming into the place from Holborn. But if he have not faith enough for this, then he may respond with a throb of sympathy to the more universal appeal of the undoubted fact that Lord Russell was beheaded in the centre of the square, which now waves so pleasantly with its elms and poplars. The cruel second James, afterwards king, wanted him beheaded before his own house, but the cynical second Charles was not quite so cruel as that, and rejected the proposed dramatic fancy “as indecent," Burnet says. So Lord Russell, after Tillotson had prayed with him, "laid his head on the block at a