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Till within the last seventy years, there existed another singular custom of presenting, from the steps of St. Sepulchre's Church, a nosegay to every criminal passing on his way to Tyburn.
We have already mentioned that the first person who, in the reign of Queen Mary, suffered at the stake on account of his religious principles, was the Reverend John Rogers, Vicar of St. Sepulchre’s. When, in the preceding reign, Joan Bocher bad been condemned to the flames, for maintaining the doctrine that our Saviour was human only in appearance, — having but an apparent, not a real body, a mutual friend had earnestly entreated Rogers to intercede for the life of the misguided woman; or, at all events, to endeavour to save her from suffering an agonizing death in the flames. To both these requests Rogers is said to have turned a deaf ear, adding, that he believed burning to be rather an easy death than otherwise. This indifference to the sufferings of a fellow-creature, so incensed the other, that he is said to have exclaimed, with great vehemence,—“Take care! the time may come when you yourself may have enough of this mild burning.” The words, as we have already related, proved prophetic.
In the churchyard of St. Sepulchre's, Sarah Malcolm, the murderess, was buried in 1733.
Running from Newgate Street into West Smithfield is Giltspur Street, -anciently called Knightrider Street, which derives its names from the knights, with their gilt spurs, riding this way from
the Tower, to the jousts and tournaments which in the olden time were held in Smithfield. We have already mentioned that Knight-rider Street, in the neighbourhood of Doctors' Commons, derives its name from a similar circumstance.
Close by, adjoining Cock Lane, is Pie Corner, so called, according to Stow, from the sign of a well-frequented hostelry, which anciently stood on the spot. Strype speaks of Pie Corner, as “ noted chiefly for cooks’-shops, and pigs dressed there during Bartholomew Fair.” In our old writers there are many references to its cook’sstalls and dressed pork. Shadwell, in “The Woman Captain” (1680), speaks of “meat dressed at Pie Corner by greasy scullions ;” and Ben Jonson writes, in the “ Alchemist,” (1610) :
I shall put you in mind, sir, at Pie Corner,
The principal interest, however, which is attached to Pie Corner, is from its having been the spot where the great Fire terminated in 1666. It commenced, as is well-known, in Pudding Lane,-a curious coincidence, which we have already noticed as having given rise to a supposition among the vulgar, that the fire had been sent expressly from heaven, as a punishment for the prevailing sin of gluttony. At the corner of Cock Lane may be seen the figure of a fat naked boy, with his hands across his stomach, to which the following inscription, now illegible, was formerly attached :-“ This
boy is in memory put up of the late Fire of London, occasioned by the sin of gluttony, 1666.”
In Sea Coal Lane (at the bottom of Break Neck Stairs, which lead out of Green Arbour Court, in the direction of Fleet Market), have, at various times, been discovered considerable remains of massive stone walls, leading to the supposition that here stood some of the important outworks connected with the ancient fortifications. An especial interest attaches itself to Green Arbour Court. Here, in the first floor rooms, at No. 12, resided, in 1758, the gifted and warm-hearted Oliver Goldsmith, and tradition informs us that in this place he composed his “ Traveller,” and other works. In this miserable abode he was visited by Bishop Percy, the collector of the “ Reliques of English Poetry,” who was accustomed to relate an interesting account of their interview. He found the poet engaged in writing his “ Enquiry into Polite Learning," in a “wretchedly dirty room, in which there was but one chair; and when, from civility, this was offered to his visitant, Goldsmith was obliged to sit in the window.
While they were engaged in conversation, some one gently rapped at the door, and on being desired to come in, a poor little ragged girl, of very decent behaviour, entered, who, dropping a curtsey, said,— My mama sends her compliments, and begs the favour of your lending her a pot-full of coals.””
In consequence of their threatening to fall from age and dilapidation, the miserable abode of Goldsmith in
Green Arbour Court, as well as the adjoining houses, were, a few years since, razed to the ground, and some buildings connected with a waggon-office now occupy their site.
From Green Arbour Court Goldsmith removed, in 1760, to Wine Office Court, Fleet Street. Here he remained about two years, when he hired lodgings in the house of a Mrs. Elizabeth Fleming, at Islington, where he continued to reside till 1764.
COURT.-RICHARDSON THE NOVELIST. - GOUGH SQUARE.
-ANECDOTES OF DR. JOHNSON.-JOHNSON'S COURT AND BOLT COURT.
WINE-OFFICE COURT, - ANECDOTE
OF GOLDSMITH-OLD CONDUIT
LANE.-SHIRE LANE. —ANECDOTE OF COLERIDGE. -KIT-CAT CLUB.
DESCENDING Ludgate Hill, we enter Fleet Street, perhaps the most interesting thoroughfare in London. As we wend our way along this famous street -through which the full tide of busy traffic and of human existence is constantly flowing—let us pause for a few moments to gaze on the graceful steeple of St. Bride's Church, which, with the exception of that of Bow Church, is unquestionably the most beautiful in London. St. Bride's, moreover, in addition to its architectural merits, recalls many interesting memories of the past. Here was interred Wynkyn de Worde, the famous printer in the reign of Henry the Seventh. He lived in the immediate neighbourhood, as appears by his “
“ Fruyte of Tymes,” printed in 1515, which purports to be issued from his establishment at the “
sygne of the