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the night or rough weather. He meets the sun but follows the moon: he seems to complain at the bridge, because it hath intruded into his bowels, and that makes him roar at that place. To speak truth of him, he is the privileged place for fish and ships, the glory and wealth of the city, the highway to the sea, the bringer in of wealth and strangers, and his business is all for water, yet he deals much with the land too: he is a little sea, and a great river.

DONALD LUPTON, London and the Countrey carbonadoed 1632

A Water-man

Is one that hath learnt to speak well of himself; for always he names himself, "the first man." If he had betaken himself to some richer trade, he could not have choosed but done well: for in this (though it be a mean one) he is still plying it, and putting himself forward. He is evermore telling strange news, most commonly lies. If he be a sculler, ask him if he be married, he'll equivocate and swear he's a single man. Little trust is to be given to him, for he thinks that day he does best, when he fetches most men over. His daily labour teaches him the art of dissembling for like a fellow that rides to the pillory, he goes not that way he looks. He keeps such a bawling at Westminster, that if the lawyers were not acquainted with it, an order would be taken with him. When he is upon the water, he is farecompany when he comes ashore, he mutinies, and contrary to all other trades is most surly to gentlemen, when they tender payment. The play-houses* only keep him sober; and, as it doth many other gallants, make him an afternoon's man. Londonbridge is the most terrible eye-sore to him that can be. And to conclude, nothing but a great press makes him fly from the river; nor any thing, but a great frost, can teach him any good


SIR THOMAS OVERBURY, Characters 1614-16

London Bridge

The bridge at London is worthily to be numbered among the miracles of the world, if men respect the building and foundation laid artificially and stately over an ebbing and flowing water upon 21 piles of stone, with 20 arches, under which barks may pass, the lowest foundation being (as they say) packs of wool, most durable against the force of water, and not

On the South bank of the river, cp. p. 170.

to be repaired but upon great fall of the waters and by artificial turning or stopping the recourse of them; or if men respect the houses built upon the bridge, as great and high as those of the firm land, so as a man cannot know that he passeth a bridge, but would judge himself to be in the street, save that the houses on both sides are combined in the top, making the passage somewhat dark, and that in some few open places the river of Thames may be seen on both sides.

FYNES MORYSON, Itinerary 1617

It is almost art's wonder for strength, length, beauty, wideness, height: it may be said to be polypus, because it is so well furnished with legs: every mouth is four times filled in eight and forty hours, and then as a child it is still, but as soon as they be empty, like a lion it roars, and is wondrous impatient: it is made of iron, wood and stone, and therefore it is a wondrous hardy fellow. It hath changed the form, but as few do now-adays, from worse to better: certainly it is full of patience, because it bears so much and continually. It's no prison, for any one goes through it: it is something addicted to pride, for many a great man goes under it, and yet it seems something humble too, for the poorest peasant treads upon it: it hath more wonders than arches; the houses here built are wondrous strong, yet they neither stand on land or water. It is some prejudice to the waterman's gains; many go over here which otherwise should row or sail: it helps many a penniless purse to pass the water without danger or charges. Nothing affrights it more than spring tides or violent innundations. It is chargeable to keep, for it must be continually repaired. It is the only chief crosser of the water. His arches out-face the water, and like judges in the parliament are placed upon wool-sacks. One that lives here need not buy strong water, for here is enough for nothing; it seems to hinder the water-bearers' profit for the inhabitants easily supply their wants by buckets. He is a settled fellow, and a main upholder of houses; he is meanly placed, for there are divers above him, and many under him, and his houses may well be called Nonsuch, for there is none like them. And to conclude, he partakes of two elements, his nether parts are all for water, his upper for land; in a word, it is without compare, being a dainty street, and a strong and most stately bridge.

DONALD LUPTON, London and the Countrey carbonadoed 1632


My lord, when shall we go to Cheapside and take up commodities upon our bills? 2 Henry VI., IV. vii. 133

Tis thought the way through this street is not good, because so broad and so many go in it; yet though it be broad, it's very straight, because without any turnings. It is suspected here are not many sufficent able men, because they would sell all: and but little honesty, for they show all, and, some think, more sometime than their own: they are very affable, for they'll speak to most that pass by: they care not how few be in the streets, so their shops be full: they that bring them money, seem to be used worst, for they are sure to pay soundly: their books of accounts are not like to their estates, for the latter are best without, but the other with, long crosses. There are a great company of honest men in this place, if all be gold that glisters: their parcel-gilt plate is thought to resemble themselves, most of them have better faces than heart; their monies and coins are used as prisoners at sea, kept under hatches. One would think them to be good men, for they deal with the purest and best metals and every one strives to work best, and stout too, for they get much by knocking and especially by leaning on their elbows. Puritans do hold it for a fine street but something addicted to popery, for adorning [adoring ?] the cross too much. The inhabitants seem not to affect the standard; the kings and queens would be offended with, and punish them, knew they how these batter their faces on their coins. Some of their wives would be ill prisoners, for they cannot endure to be shut up; and as bad nuns, the life is so solitary. There are many virtuous and honest women, some truly so, others are so for want of opportunity. They hold that a harsh place of scripture: That women must be no goers or gadders abroad. In going to a lecture many use to visit a tavern: the young attendant must want his eyes, and change his tongue, according as his mistress shall direct, though many times they do mistake the place, yet they will remember the time an hour and half, to avoid suspicion. Some of the men are cunning launders of plate, and get much by washing that plate they handle, and it hath come from some of them, like a man from the broker's that hath cashiered his cloak, a great deal the lighter. Well, if

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