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18TH, 1833.

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THE CUSTOM-HOUSE OF LONDON. THE City of London, built upon the banks of a large and navigable river, appears to have been the chief port and capital town of England from time immemorial, and the consequent arrival of vessels from different parts, rendered it necessary to fix upon some particular spot, where the merchandise, and provisions imported for the use of the inhabitants, might be landed with safety, and where, at the same time, the duties, or Customs, due to the government, could be collected without difficulty. The Customs consisted, in the first instance, of a trifling sum charged upon every ship or vessel, according to its size, or, in some cases, of a portion of the cargo; as, for instance, two salmon, or one hundred herrings, from a boat-load. The earliest authentic accounts we possess of these charges are in the year 979, or in the reign of Ethelred, when a small vessel was to pay a toll of one penny halfpenny; a larger vessel, bearing sails, one penny; a keel, or hulk, fourpence; a ship laden with wood, one piece of timber; and a boat with fish, one halfpenny, or a larger, one penny. We had, even at this time, foreign trade for French wines, for mention is made of ships from Rouen, which came here and "landed them and freed them from toll;" that is, paid the duties, but what these amounted to, is not known.

The first place noticed in any record, as set aside for the landing of foreign goods, is Billingsgate, or Belin's-gate, and this as early as the tenth century. In the year 1225 we find Queenhithe mentioned as a privileged place for the same purpose, but the more convenient situation of Billingsgate appears to have prevented Queenhithe receiving its fair share of the trade. To remedy this inequality in the landing of the imports, it was ordained, in the third year of Edward the Fourth, that "if one vessel only came up to London, then it should discharge its lading at Queenhithe; if two, one should discharge at Queenhithe, and one at Belin's-gate; but if three came up, one should resort to Belin's-gate and two to Queenhithe." These regulations seem to indicate that Billingsgate was the least ancient port, but it gradually became the most convenient for foreign ships, especially after the erection of London Bridge, by which the passage of masted vessels was interrupted. In consequence of this immoveable impediment, Queenhithe gradually lost its importance, until at length its original privileges were entirely neglected.

In the year 1385, a building that answered the purpose of a Custom-house was erected by John Churchman, one of the Sheriffs of London; but at that period, and long after, the Customs were collected in a very irregular manner, until at length, about the year 1559, the loss to the state, which occurred from this irregularity, became so evident, that an act was passed to compel people to land their goods in such places as were appointed by the commissioners of the revenue. The spot where the present building stands was fixed on, and a custom-house was erected, which, being destroyed by the great fire, was rebuilt by Charles the Second. In 1718 it again met with the same fate, and shortly afterwards a more substantial and extensive structure of brick and stone was completed, and this remained till 1814, when, like the earlier building, it also was destroyed by fire, together with all the valuable property, including books and papers, deposited therein. The immense loss that was sustained by Government and individuals by this fire can hardly be calculated; but the inconvenience experienced by the destruction of valu

able documents of every description was, if possible, more severely felt than the loss of property.

Before this fire occurred, Government had been considering the propriety of enlarging and restoring the old building, but, on examination, this was found to be inadvisable, as the foundations were not considered sufficiently sound to bear the immense weight required. A calculation was made of the expense of the undertaking, and it appeared that the annual charges on the ground on which the late building stood, amounted to 21507. per year; the demands made by the possessors of property, which it was necessary to purchase for the purpose of enlarging the buildings, were 84,4787.; which sum, however, was reduced by the verdicts of juries to 41,7007. The old materials produced 12,4007. The original estimate of the total cost of the new building, including the foundations and contingencies, was 228,0007.; but the work being offered to the lowest contractor, was undertaken for the sum of 165,000l., exclusive of the foundations and contingencies; and the erection of the present new Custom-House was accordingly proceeded with.

Upon boring in different places, it was concluded, from the quality of the soil that was brought up, that it was well fitted for the formation of a secure foundation; but when the workmen commenced their operations, they found it to consist of earth which had, at different times, been taken from the bed of the river, for the purpose of forming an embankment to prevent the encroachment of the water; this embankment it was evident had been raised at three distinct periods, forming three layers, of considerable thickness, placed above each other, and, from the contents of the lowest, it must once have formed the bed of the river, as quantities of rushes were found intermixed with the remains of mussel shells and water insects; several ancient coins were also discovered, and in one part the remains of an old wall, faced with Purbeck stone, was disclosed, supposed to have formed part of the ancient defences of the city.

In order to form a secure foundation, beech piles, from twenty-eight to thirty feet in length, used while the wood was yet green, were to be driven in at short intervals over the whole space; in those parts that were to support the direct weight of the walls, beech sleepers, fifteen inches wide, and nine inches in thickness, were placed on the top of the piles, and the whole bound together by strong oaken bonds, twelve inches wide and nine inches thick, the intervals being filled up with brick-work, strongly cemented together.

The first stone of the building was laid on the 25th of October, 1813, by the Earl of Liverpool, and coins and medals of different kinds were, as usual, placed in a cavity formed in the stone.

In order to interrupt the regular course of business as little as possible, the foundations of the new building were laid on the adjacent ground, towards Billingsgate-dock, so that, when finished, the business might be removed to it with little inconvenience; but the unfortunate fire of 1814 frustrated all the plans of the Government. The new Customhouse was opened for public business on the 12th of May, 1817, and, till 1825, deservedly ranked among the most celebrated public buildings of the metropolis. In that year, however, a considerable portion of the Long Room fell in, and it was ascertained that the foundations of the edifice had been insecurely laid. The whole of the centre was then taken down, and has since been rebuilt, under the direction of Mr. Smirke.

The principal front, which is toward the river, presents, in its present state, three porticoes, of the Ionic order, each consisting of six pillars; that in the centre is elevated more than the others, and is raised on a sub-basement of five arches; on the top is a balustrade, with a clock in the middle. The Long Room is 186 feet 5 inches in length, and 60 in width; when first erected, its length was 190 feet, and width 66. It is floored with oak, and supported by plain square pillars. The whole length of the building is 480 feet, and the breadth 100; it affords accommodation to upwards of 600 clerks and officers, besides nearly 1000 tidewaiters and servants. In 1268 the half-year's customs, for foreign merchandise in the city of London, amounted only to 75l. 6s. 10d.; in 1331, they were 80007. a year. In 1590, the latter end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, our Customs brought in 50,000l. a year; they had at first been farmed at 14,000l. a year, afterwards raised to 40,000l., and finally to 50,000l., still to the same person, Sir Thomas Smith. In 1613, under James the First, the whole of the revenue from the Customs in the port of London amounted to 109,5727. 18s. 4d. In 1641 the Customs brought in 500,000l. a year. In 1666, on account of the disturbed state of the country, they suffered a decrease of 110,000. From the year 1671 to 1688, they were, on an average, 555,7531.

The following list will show the progressive increase of this branch of the revenue up to the present time. The sums mentioned were paid into the treasury for duties on exports and imports :

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LESSON OF EARLY OBEDIENCE.-The following anecdote has been communicated to us by Mrs. Jane Langton, as having been told to her father, the late Bennet Langton, Esq. by Sir Joshua Reynolds, in the year 1784.

When Queen Charlotte took two of the princesses, then children, to visit this distinguished artist, he became rather nervous, and could not help showing some fear lest his youthful royal guests should injure his portraits, they having been admitted into his private painting room. Upon their being cautioned by her Majesty not to touch any thing in the apartment, they both immediately obeyed, by putting their little hands behind them, and thus removed all Sir Joshua's apprehensions.

WHEN religion is neglected, there can be no regular nor steady practice of the duties of morality. The character will be often inconsistent; and virtue, placed on a basis too narrow to support it, will be always loose and tottering. For such is the propensity of our nature to vice, so numerous are the temptations to a relaxed and immoral conduct, that stronger restraints than those of mere reason are necessary to be imposed on man. The sense of right and wrong, the principle of honour, or the instinct of benevolence, are barriers too feeble to withstand the strength of passion. In the tranquil seasons of life, these natural principles may, perhaps, carry on the ordinary course of social duties with some regularity. But wait until some trying emergency comes. Let the conflict of passions arise. Let the heart be either wounded by sore distress, or agitated by violent emotions; and you shall presently see, that virtue without religion is inadequate to the government of life. It is destitute of its proper guard, of its firmest support, of its chief encouragement. It will sink under the weight of misfortune, or will yield to the solicitation of guilt.-BLAIR.

JUST REBUKES. THOSE whose business, or other circumstances, lead them into strange and mingled companies, often have an opportunity of improving the language and conduct of others to their own advantage, by acquiring valuable information, or studying some bright example of goodness.

The reverse of this is equally true. In travelling, for instance, who has not been incommoded with the presence of some bold talker, whose loudness and confidence bear a pretty exact proportion to his ignorance and erroneous impressions. A marked and general silence is in itself a solid reproof on such occasions. But when Religion is introduced as the subject of offensive remarks, how important is it for the listeners to be furnished with a reason for the hope that is in them; that they may turn to the armoury of revealed truth for a weapon, if not to conquer the gainsayer, at least for self-defence, to avoid the ill effect of sly insinuation, or rude assault against that which should be a dear part of themselves. Many cases have, however, doubtless occurred, known to many, and well worthy of insertion here, in which a fearless and well-grounded Christian has supplied not only an open and immediate answer to the sceptic, but a just and useful rebuke. We can quote two.

Some years ago, a young man, of nucnt speech, was astonishing his fellow-passengers in a stagecoach, by a discussion, which he was allowed to keep entirely to himself, on what he was pleased to call the impossibilities of Scripture. Among other points, he objected to the account of the combat between David and Goliath; "How could it be imagined," said he, " that the giant's head could receive the stone slung by a stripling?" A Quaker, who had hitherto sat silent in a corner, now quietly leaned forward and said, Friend, if his head was as soft as thine, that were no difficult matter." An honest buz of approval ran through the party, and the first speaker had no more objections to urge.

Another rebuke of this kind, which is quite well authenticated, was also given in a stage-coach to a man of desperate opinions, who had indulged in a strain which betrayed licentiousness and infidelity. He seemed hurt that no one either agreed or disputed with him. "Well," he exclaimed, as a funeral procession slowly passed the coach, "there is the last job of all." "No!" replied the voice of a person directly opposite to him; "No! for AFTER death is the judgment." The words produced a good end at the time, for they silenced the speaker; and perhaps they were, by God's grace, engrafted inwardly in his heart.


O, GREEN was the corn as I rode on my way,
And bright were the dews on the blossoms of May,
And dark was the sycamore's shade to behold,
And the oak's tender leaf was of em'rald and gold.
The thrush from his holly, the lark from his cloud,
Their chorus of rapture sung jovial and loud;
From the soft vernal sky, to the soft grassy ground,
There was beauty above me, beneath, and around
The mild southern breeze brought a shower from the hill,
And yet, though it left me all dripping and chill,

I felt a new pleasure, as onward I sped,
To gaze where the rainbow gleam'd broad over head.

O such be life's journey, and such be our skill,
To lose in its blessings the sense of its ill;
Through sunshine and shower, may our progress be even,
And our tears add a charm to the prospect of Heaven!

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WHEN Arthur first in court begun,

And was approved King,

By force of arms great victories won,
And conquest home did bring;
Then into Britain straight he came,
Where fifty good and able
Knights, then repaired unto him,

Which were of the round table.-Old Ballad.

about precedency, and whence they were called Knights of the Round Table, was introduced into this country by King Stephen, who was likewise either the founder, or great restorer of Winchester castle, instead of Arthur, who has often reaped the fame.

On all hands, however, it is allowed, that this vestige of former times is of great antiquity, being at least 700 years old; time enough to render it a curious and valuable monument. Paulus Jovius, who records the Emperor's visit to it, in the early part of the sixteenth century, describes it as very old, and laments that many marks of its antiquity had been destroyed by the names of the knights having been written afresh, and some of its ornaments repaired. It still hangs up at the east end of the ancient Chapel of St Stephen, now termed the County Hall; upon it may be seen, as represented in our engraving, the figure of the king, and the names of his knights, Sir Tristram, Sir Launcelot of the Lake, and others, as mentioned in the old romances.

TRADITION attributes the foundation of Winchester Castle to the renowned Prince Arthur, in the year, 523, and the legendary bards affirm, that the large oaken table, now shown as the chief curiosity of the place, is the identical board, around which that monarch, and his celebrated knights assembled in the fortress he had founded. But notwithstanding the authority of the monkish chronicler, Geoffrey of Monmouth, and the royal word of our Eighth Henry, who exhibited it to his illustrious visiter, the Emperor Charles, as the table actually made, and placed in Winchester Castle by Arthur himself, the researches of modern antiquarians, deny it an earlier date than the reign of Stephen. Satisfactory evidence exists, that the tabula rotunda, or round table, at which knights who had performed feats of chivalry were accustomed to assemble, in order to avoid disputes

The Table is made of very stout oak plank, and is larger than the roof and floors, of the rooms in the Eddystone light-house, and considerably larger than the ground plot of the parish Church of St. Lawrence, in the Isle of Wight. Many references are made to this table by the poets and romancers of former times. Drayton says,—

And so great Arthur's seat ould Winchester prefers, Whose ould round table yet she vaunteth to be hers. and Warton likewise gives a poetic confirmation to the table, and we love these recollections of the olden time:

Where Venta's Norman castle still uprears
Its rafter'd hall, that o'er the grassy foss,
And scatter'd flinty fragments, clad in moss,
On yonder steep in naked majesty appears,
High hung remains, the pride of warlike years,
Old Arthur's board: on the capacious round
Some British pen has sketch'd the names renown'd,
In marks obscure, of his immortal peers,
Though join'd by magic skill with many a rhyme,
The Druid frame unhonoured falls a prey
To the slow vengeance of the wizard, Time,
And fade the British characters away:

Yet Spenser's page, that chants in verse sublime,

MIGRATORY BIRDS. No. IV. THE NIGHTJAR OR FERN OWL.-(Caprimulgus.) THE Nightjar partakes of the form and habits of the Owl and of the Swallow; like the latter, its beak is very deeply cleft, and its principal food consists of insects which it takes upon the wing; but, like the owl, it pursues its prey only in the dusk of the evening, and early in the morning. If disturbed during the day, its flight is heavy and embarrassed, but at night, its motions are rapid and certain. It is enabled by a curious provision of nature (a glutinous secretion from the inside of the mouth), to prevent the escape of such insects as it may capture, without the necessity of swallowing them too frequently. The nests of the Nightjar, or rather the places in which it lays its eggs, are small holes at the foot of trees, or even sometimes on the naked ground; it is among our latest spring visiters, and does not make its appearance till the latter end of May. The chief food of the Nightjar consists of beetles, and other large insects.

The Rev. Mr. White, from whose works we have already made such frequent quotations, says, speaking of this bird," A Fern Owl this evening (August 27.), showed off in a very unusual and entertaining manner, by hawking round the circumference of my great spreading oak, for twenty times following, keeping mostly close to the grass, but occasionally glancing up among the boughs of the tree. This amusing bird was then in pursuit of a brood of some particular Phalana (moth) belonging to the oak, and exhibited on the occasion a command of wing, supe

rior I think to the swallow itself."

"When a person approaches the haunts of the Fern Owls in an evening, they continue flying round the


head of the intruder, and by striking their wings together above their backs, in the manner that pigeons called Twisters are known to do, make a smart swap. Perhaps at that time they are jealous of their young, and their noise and gesture are intended by way of menace. Fern Owls have attachment to oaks, no doubt on account of food, for the next evening we saw one again, several times, among the boughs of the same tree, but it did not skim round its stem over the grass, as on the evening before. In May, these birds find the Scarabæus melolontha (the common Cockchafer) on the oak, and the Melolontha solstitialis (the July Chafer) at Midsummer. These peculiar birds can only be watched and observed for two hours in the twenty-four, and then in a dubious twilight, an hour after sunset, and an hour before sunrise."






EDMUND SPENSER may almost be considered as the father of English poetry. We know that Chaucer, Gower, and Lydgate wrote long before him; and, nearer to his own time, we have the Earl of Surrey, Sir Thomas Wyat, Sackville Earl of Dorset, and others; but we suspect that even the latest of these writers are now seldom read, except by professed scholars and antiquaries. Spenser was born about the year 1553, in East Smithfield, London; and it is probable that his parents were in humble circumstances, though he was connected with the noble family of the Spensers of Althorpe, in Northamptonshire,-a family in which talent is still hereditary, and which, perhaps, will not refuse to receive the exhortation of Gibbon :-" The nobility of the Spensers has been illustrated and enriched by the trophies of Marlborough, but I exhort them to consider the Fairy Queen as the most precious jewel in their coronet*.

Spenser went, in the year 1569, to Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, in the humble situation of sizer or Bibleclerk; and although he carried away from the University no other advantage than an excellent education, it is pleasing to observe that he always speaks of it with filial regard and love. He took his degree of Master of Arts in 1576, and then went into the north, in what capacity it does not clearly appear. It is, however, certain, that he then duly proceeded through the poetical course of falling in love, and venting his complaints of the cruelty of his " Rosalinde," in the poem of the Shepherd's There is a portrait of Spenser in the library at Althorpe, with the following inscription:The glorie of the noble houses

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