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 12.
CHAPTER XII.HOW THE COMMON COUNCIL RESOLVED TO ADDRESS THE PRINCESS, AND IN WHAT MANNER THE COURT OF ALDERMEN ORIGINATED.THIS amiable and legitimate Princess being thus restored to the throne of her ancestors, the first instance of so joyful an event in the records of British history, – and her subjects being extremely anxious to obtain an heir to the throne, of the same illustrious race, it was suggested, in Common Council assembled, that a most dutiful and loyal address should be drawn up, and, presented to the Princess, imploring that her highness might be graciously pleased to take into her royal consideration the expediency of allying herself with some distinguished family, in order to secure, to her loving subjects and their posterity, the great blessings which they already experienced under her benign sway.In a matter of such grave importance, too much deliberation could not be employed ; and therefore it was moved, by Mr. Deputy Gog, that the different wards of the new city, which was daily increasing in population, should be required to select from among the eldest of the wisest of the housekeepers, in the respective wards, a fit person to advise and assist in drawing up the said dutiful and loyal address. His brother, Mr. Deputy Magog, seconded the motion; which, after some judicious observations from Deputy Dixit, and a long irrelevant speech by Mr. Waffman, two persons who busied themselves very much on the subject of places and pensions in these remote days, was finally carried.The wards accordingly elected their respective elder-men; a title which, by those changes that living languages are subject to, has since been altered to that of aldermen.These representatives of the wards, or aldermen, as they are now called, having met as a committee, framed a very suitable address for the occasion; which, being approved of by the Common Council, they were appointed to carry up the address; and Gog and Magog having, in the meantime, been chosen sheriffs for the city and Middlesex, were directed to enquire when the address would be received. Hence arose the practice of the sheriffs, on all similar occasions, apprising the ruling sovereign of the city addresses, furnishing, at the same time, a copy, that the Court might have time to prepare a suitable answer.