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old annalist, “the said Lady Princess, accompanied with many lords and ladies, in most sumptuous manner apparelled, came riding from Lambeth into Southwark, and so to London Bridge, where was ordained a costly pageant of St. Katherine and St. Ursula, with many virgins,”—the first of six exhibitions of the same character which greeted her in her progress through the city. The next grand procession that the bridge witnessed was that of Katherine's arch-enemy, the gorgeous Wolsey, as he departed on his embassy to France, on the 26th of July, 1526, marching, as his biographer Cavendish relates, from his house at Westminster, all through London and over the bridge, “ having before him of gentlemen a great number, three in a rank, in black velvet livery-coats, and the most part of them with great chains of gold about their necks; and all his yeomen, with noblemen's and gentlemen's servants following him, in French tawny livery-coats, having embroidered upon the backs and breasts of the said coats these letters, T. and C. under the cardinal's hat."
More than twenty sumpter-mules, and many carts and carriages, had passed on before, guarded by men armed with bows and spears. The proud churchman himself, coming last, as the crowning figure of the show, “ rode like a cardinal, very sumptuously, on a mule trapped with crimson velvet upon velvet, and his stirrups of copper and gilt, and his spare mule following him with like apparel; and before him he had his two great crosses of silver, two great pillars of silver, the great seal of England, the cardinal's hat, and a gentleman that carried his valence, otherwise called a cloak-bag, which was made altogether of fine scarlet cloth, embroidered over and over with cloth of gold very richly, having in it a cloak of fine scarlet.” The poor queen was now standing on the edge of the precipice over which she was to be thrown; in this very visit to France the aspiring but shortsighted cardinal hoped to arrange a new marriage for his royal master; nevertheless, his fall speedily followed Katherine's; and his death, of disgrace and a broken heart, preceded hers. An incident of private life, but too interesting to be omitted, also marks the history of the bridge in this reign-the rescue of the infant daughter of Sir William Hewet, the wealthy clockmaker, by his apprentice, Osborne, who gallantly leaped into the river, and brought out the child, when it had been dropped by the carelessness of a servant from a window of the housean exploit for which he was afterwards appropriately rewarded by her father with the young lady's hand and an ample dowry. This is said to have happened in 1536; Hewet was Lord Mayor of London in 1559; Osborne attained that dignity in 1582; and before the end of the next century his great-grandson, as his lineal descendant still is, was Duke of Leeds. In the beginning of the reign of Mary, London Bridge was one of the scenes of Wyatt's short and ill-fated insurrection : when, on the afternoon of the 3rd of February, 1554, news arrived that he was marching at the head of a body of about two thousand men. from Deptford towards Southwark, instantly “the mayor and sheriffs, harnessed, commanded each man to shut in their shops and windows, and to be ready harnessed at their doors, what chance soever might happen;" and at the same time the bridge-gates were shut, and the drawbridge, not merely raised as it had been when Wat Tyler made his attack, but cut down and thrown into the river. Ordnance were also brought up
and planted on the bridge. In these circumstances Wyatt did not
venture to attempt to force an entry. But it is told that at a late hour at night he himself, accompanied by a few of his friends, contrived, by ascending to the leads of a house adjoining the bridge, to make his way into the porter's lodge, where he found the porter asleep, but his wife and some other persons keeping watch, with a coal fire burning in the chimney; on which he commanded them, as they loved their lives, to remain silent, and then proceeded with his companions to the edge of the drawbridge, where, lurking themselves in the shade, they saw and heard the lord admiral, the lord mayor, and one or two others, consulting about the defence of the bridge on the other side of the chasm. This were a subject for the pencil of a Rembrandt or a Salvator Rosa. We can merely glance at one other memorable day of public pomp in which old London Bridge is recorded to have borne a share—Tuesday, the 29th of May, 1660—that of the triumphant return home to his capital of Charles II., when, having arrived in Southwark about three o'clock in the afternoon, he proceeded over the bridge, riding between his two brothers, the Dukes of York and Gloucester, while before him passed on all the gaiety of military and civic display, and on all sides around the splendid cavalcade rolled perhaps a fuller tide of genuine popular jubilation than was ever, before or since, witnessed on any occasion of national rejoicing in England.
But old age, with its infirmities that no art can cure, was now fast coming upon Peter of Colechurch's venerable structure, as it comes alike surely, sooner or later, upon man himself, and upon all the works of his hands; and throughout the next century the ancient pile was only sustained in a serviceable condition by incessant propping and tinkering. The less service, too, it was able to render, the more was required from it; for, while it was growing old and crazy, mighty London was becoming every day more extensive, more populous, more alive with the spirit of traffic and industry of all kinds; and the progress of refinement and luxury was also making people discontented with accommodations which had satisfied earlier times. It was slowly and reluctantly, however, that the Londoners gave up the notion of still repairing their old bridge. In their eyes, indeed, it seemed to be looked upon as a sort of counterpart to the shepherd's boy in the Arcadia, “ piping as if he should never grow old.” Yet the corporation, so early as the year 1685, found itself compelled to make the thoroughfare over it in some degree more suitable to the demands of a state of society very different from that for which it had been originally contrived : an inscription of that date upon the north side of Nonsuch House recorded that the street had then been widened from the breadth of twelve feet to that of twenty. Again, in 1697, an Act of Parliament was procured for widening the street at the south end of the bridge; and, in 1722, another for the establishment of certain regulations with the object of keeping the passage free, and securing both the easier transit of carriages and the greater safety of foot-passengers. At last, after the opening of Westminster Bridge in 1749, a loud demand arose from the public for the erection of a new bridge in the city also ; and, in 1754, the subject was forced upon the Common Council. After much violent debate and controversy, it was conceded that a new bridge should be built at Blackfriars; but it was resolved that London Bridge should still be left standing, and only be repaired, and have the houses upon it pulled down.
This was done; and the bridge, as a means of communication, was thereby rendered greatly more commodious; but, architecturally, it was probably rather
weakened than strengthened by the operations that were at the same time resorted to with the view of improving the navigation. In 1761 Smeaton the engineer, who had been hastily called in upon some alarming appearances presenting themselves, found, besides other dilapidations that were in progress, one of the piers undermined to the extent of six feet, and in such a state that it must have sunk and fallen down in a few days. Fortunately the city gates had just been taken down, and the stones, having been sold to a builder, lay ready in Moorfields ; they were instantly repurchased, and, on a Sunday morning, brought as fast as carts could carry them, and thrown under the tottering pier, which was the one next to the north or city end of the bridge
The work of paring and patching the old bridge went on for sixty years longer; but at length, in 1822, notwithstanding the continued resistance of the corporation, a select committee of the House of Commons, to which the subject had been referred, recommended the erection of a new bridge ; on which an Act of Parliament for that purpose was passed the following year. The new bridge was built after the designs of the late John Rennie, Esq., who died, however, before the work was begun; it was superintended throughout by his son, the present Sir John Rennie. The first pile of the first coffer-dam, being that for the south pier, was driven on Monday the 15th of March, 1824; the foundation-stone was laid by the Lord Mayor, John Garratt, Esq., in the presence of the Duke of York and many other distinguished personages, on the 15th of June, 1825; and the finished bridge was opened by his late Majesty King William IV., and Queen Adelaide, on the 1st of August, 1831. The cost of the bridge, with the approaches, amounted to not much short of two millions. It stands about a hundred and eighty feet higher up the river than the old bridge, which was left standing till its successor was built, nor was its last arch pulled down till
towards the end of the year 1832. It is needless to say that the new London Bridge, bestriding the broad river with its five vast elliptical arches, is a far more magnificent, and in every way more perfect work, than Peter of Colechurch's structure ever was in its best days; and, looking there, in its firm and massive strength, as if it might last a thousand years, it is to the imagination, if we may so speak, as expressive and impressive a monument of the far future as the old bridge was of the past.
It was on the vigil of St. John the Baptist, in the year 1510, that two young men, wearing the dress of the King's Guard—the rich and picturesque uniform which has survived the changes of three centuries, to linger about the Court of England, and preserve its gorgeous dignity, however vulgarized into associations with beef-eaters and showmen--that two handsome and soldierly-looking young men came to the water-gate at Westminster, and, in answer to the “ Eastwardho” of the watermen, jumped into a common wherry. There were not many boats at the stairs, and those which were still unhired were very different in their appearance and their comforts from the royal barges which were moored at some little distance. The companions looked at each other with a peculiar expression before they sat down on the uncushioned and dirty bench of the wherry; but the boisterous laugh which burst forth from one of them appeared to remove all scruples, and the boat was soon adrift in the ebbing tide.
The evening was very lovely. The last sunbeam was dancing on the waters, and the golden light upon the spires of the city was fast fading away. Suddenly,