Every November the new Lord Mayor of London holds his Show – a colourful procession of the City Guilds and dignitaries through the streets of the City. At the head of the procession are two enormous effigies of giants. These are Gog and Magog, the traditional guardians of the City of London and they have been carried in the Lord Mayor’s Show since the reign of Henry V. Their origins lie in the distant past and are quite unknown to us. Over the centuries, many people have produced various “explanations” of their origins. Perhaps the most entertaining was that of John Galt who published his History in 1819. In this series we will present his full text, Chapter by chapter. Here is Chapter 10.
CHAPTER X.HOW LONDONA REWARDED GOG AND MAGOG FOR THEIR NOBLE SELF DEVOTION IN HER CAUSE.THE remorseless tyrant, who had so long oppressed the country, being thus laid low, his vassals and retainers surrendered at discretion, and the castle and territory were declared the conquest of the princess Londona. After a day of danger and fatigue, there is nothing so comfortable as an excellent supper; and fortunately, the sumptuous banquet which Humbug had prepared for his own luxurious appetite, stood ready to regale the victors. The Princess accordingly taking the head of the table, and requesting Gog and Magog to place themselves on her right and left, directed her most distinguished officers also to be seated ; and, cutting up a large venison pasty, she commenced the convivial operations of that ever-memorable evening.After supper, on the cloth being removed, and Non Nobis sung with great effect, she filled a bumper, and proposed as a toast– The health of Gog and Magog ; observing that, ” but for their bold and masterly measures, she might still have been in the thraldom of her implacable enemy, and the whole country still groaning beneath the intolerable burthen of his oppression.”Her speech was frequently interrupted by the most enthusiastic shouts of admiration, and the toast received with thunders of applause.When the acclamations had subsided, Gog arose ; and, in a speech replete with the noblest sentiments, returned thanks for the Honour that had been done to him and his brother ; declaring that, ” while a drop of blood flowed in their veins, they would cheerfully shed it in defence of injured innocence; that it was particularly gratifying to him, as well as his gallant relation, to meet such an assemblage of their countrymen on so interesting an occasion.”We feel,” exclaimed the magnanimous Gog,
“that we are, more than repaid for all our endeavours in the field of battle; for all the dangers we have encountered; and for all the insults that we have endured, – by these flattering testimonies of your approbation, than which nothing can be more gratifying to our hearts – and we are free to declare, and we do so with the utmost sincerity, that our feeble exertions would have been of no avail in the great struggle for all that was dear to us as men, had those exertions not been seconded by the heroic achievements of that incomparable Princess at the head of’ the table – a Princess, whose wisdom in council is only surpassed by her abilities in the field ; and how much these excel those of every other lady, I need not point out to your judicious attention: for ye have witnessed with what intrepidity she advanced, with what resolution she persevered, until the enemy of social order, and the child and champion of anarchy and confusion, was laid prostrate at her feet. With your permission, after returning you my warmest thanks for the honour you have done to me and my gallant relative on the left of the chairwoman, I would therefore propose the health of the princess Londona.”It would be in vain for me even to attempt to describe the rapture with which this toast was received by the whole company. Suffice it to say, that there never was an evening spent with more convivial reciprocity, and that the form of proceedings, as to drinking healths and returning thanks, practised on that interesting occasion, has become a precedent which the citizens of London have never allowed to become obsolete when they entertain the illustrious or the renowned.