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THE FIRE REACHES THE INNER TEMPLE.

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spondency or fate, they hardly stirr'd to quench it, so that there was nothing heard nor seen but crying out, and lamentations, running about like distracted creatures, without at all attempting to save even their goods, such a strange consternation there was upon them, so as it burned both in breadth and length the churches, public halls, Exchange, hospitals, monuments, and ornaments, leaping after a prodigious manner from house to house and street to street at great distances one from the other, for the heat, with a long set of faire and warm weather, had even ignited the air and prepared the materials to conceive the fire, which devour'd after an incredible manner, houses, furniture, and everything. Oh the miserable and calamitous spectacle! Such as haply the world had not seen the like since the foundation of it, nor can be outdone till the universal conflagration there. All the skie was of a fiery aspect, like the top of a burning oven, and the light seen about 40 miles round about for many nights. God grant mine eyes may never behold the like, who now saw above 10,000 houses all in one flame! The noise and cracking and thunder of the impetuous flames, ye shrieking of women and children, the hurry of people, the fall of towers, houses, and churches, was like an hideous storme, and the aire all about so hot and inflamed that at last one was not able to approach it. They were forc'd to stand still and let flames burn on, which they did for neere two miles in length, and one in bredth. The clouds also of smoke were dismale, and reached upon computation neare 50 miles in length. Thus I left it this afternoon burning, resemblance of Sodom on the last day. London was, but is, no more.'

Agitated entries now appear in the pages penned by one of the kindest-hearted of men. The fire still rages,' he writes, September 4th. It had reached the Inner Temple. Watling Street, that most ancient street, and its precincts were flaming. The stones of St. Paul's flew about like grenades; the melting lead from its roof ran like a stream through the

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streets; the very pavements were glowing with a fiery redness, so that no passengers could proceed, no one go to help, or to stay the destruction. 'The eastern wind,' Evelyn writes, 'still more impetuously driving the flames forward. Nothing but the Almighty power of God was able to stop them, for vaine was the help of man.'

At Whitehall the greatest confusion prevailed. The fire was now extending towards that sinful and thoughtless corner of the doomed capital. Hitherto the frequenters of the court had stood like 'men intoxicated, with their hands across them;' they now aroused themselves. Charles-with greater sagacity than all the worshipful the mayor and aldermen put together-listened to the suggestion of blowing up a number of houses in order to produce a gap, instead of taking them down leisurely by machinery. This scheme had been proposed by some stout seamen early enough to have saved the whole city; but this, some of the selfish among the sufferers-and how large a class of that disposition is always seen in danger opposed, as their houses must have gone first. The plan was now adopted; and to that we owe the remnant of old London that was spared.

There was one spot on which Evelyn's humane care centered. In St. Bartholomew's Hospital, and also in the Savoy, wounded and sick soldiers, who had suffered in the Dutch war, were harboured. These it was far more important to save, Evelyn seems to have thought,-than the luxurious denizens of Whitehall.

After some time, the precautions thus adopted prevailed. Charles, in all the natural goodness of a heart not utterly selfish, was active in personal superintendence, labouring,' says Evelyn, as well as the duke, in person, and being present to command, order, reward, and encourage the workmen.' Meantime, a pitiful sight presented itself to every eye. The sufferers, many of whom were persons of wealth, were cowering into miserable hovels-being utterly ruined-with

WHERE THE FIRE BEGAN.

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scarcely a rag to cover them, nor a bed to rest upon. For days Evelyn could not walk along towards the city, the soles of his shoes being burnt through; but the hearts of the populace were reassured as they beheld, on the morning of the fifth day after the fire broke out, the royal barge gliding towards the Tower. Agonies of apprehension had been excited for days lest the White Tower should ignite. It held the magazine of powder, and had it been set on fire, every vessel in the river would have been demolished. Charles, however, saved it. Appearing at that spot, he caused every house near the old citadel to be razed to the ground. To him we owe that we have still that strong national fort—the mortar of which, so says tradition, was of old cemented with human blood, preserved to us. It seems destined to stand whilst England is a nation.

There is some pleasure in knowing that the court suffered paroxysms of alarm; one night a report arose that the French or the Dutch were invading London. The 28th of September arrived before the fire even began visibly to abate, and their terror to be allayed. Then people began to walk about the ruins, 'looking,' says Evelyn, 'like men in a dismall desert, or rather in some great citie laid waste by a cruel enemy.' Pepys, in a less exalted strain, tells us many homely little details à la Pepys, for which we are beholden to him; how the fire began at the king's bakers in Pudding Lane, and consumed Pie Corner. How, when he met my Lord Mayor and gave him the king's message that the houses should be pulled down, the mayor, 'looking like a man spent,' with a handkerchief round his neck, cried out: Lord! what can I do? I am spent ; people will not obey me. I have been pulling down houses, but the fire overtakes us faster than we can do it. So he left me and I him, and walked home.' Calm-minded Pepys! But he was active enough in carrying his own money and plate to Sir W. Batten's-he in his night-gown sitting in a cart: and, as usual, went to church

VOL. II.

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ETHEREGE'S PLAY LOVE IN A TUB.'

on the ensuing Sunday, and condemned the bad taste of the preacher, in saying that the city was 'reduced from folio to a decimo-tertio.' Pepys had composure of thought enough to tell us how and when he knew how his wife bought a dress at 15s. and 6d. a yard, and what a profit some wretches, whom he speaks of in pleasant, envying terms, made out of the miseries of others; a certain Mr. Pierce, a friend of Pepys, letting his wife's closet and the little blind bedchamber (not an attractive expression) for 50l. down, and 30%. per annum, and 407. for dieting the master and two 'prentices.' As usual, Pepys could not help going to Whitehall, where he meets Evelyn, who sorrowfully made a striking comment on the state of public feeling, and the low standard to which it had sunk.

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'He observes,' says Pepys, 'that none of the nobility came out of the country at all, to help the King, or comfort him, or prevent commotions at this fire; but do as if the King were nobody; nor ne'er a priest comes to give the King and court good counceil, or comfort the poor people that suffer; but all is dead, nothing of good in any of their minds; he bemoans it, and says he fears more ruin hangs over our heads.' Pepys is somewhat awe-struck, and going to church the following Sunday, and seeing not one handsome face in the church, begins to think, with Bishop Fuller, that a 'curse had fallen on the parish.'

The theatres were closed some time, and even during several years a shadow was over all the brightest hopes of literary men. About a month after the fire had ceased, we find, however, the theatre at Whitehall again opened; and the king, queen, duke, and duchess, and all the great ladies of the court, (which was indeed,' says Pepys, 'a fine sight') listening to an ill-done representation of Etherege's silly play of 'Love in a Tub.' The sight of the ladies indeed was exceeding noble; and, aboye all, my Lady Castlemaine, whom,' says Pepys, on another occasion, 'I doe love.' There was a fast

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DEPRAVITY OF THE COURT.

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day on account of the fire; but, whilst sights so noble' as these were to be seen, and Lady Castlemaine's audacious wickedness was paramount, neither fires, nor pestilence, nor solemn fasts could do much to arouse the court to a sense of its own depravity. A change, meantime, was taking place in Dryden's predilections, and the part which he took in the 'Literature of Society,' and his contributions to it, became more prominent and various.

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