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 The final chapter.
CHAPTER XVII.HOW GOG AND MAGOG GREW OLD, AND DIED; AND HOW THEIR STATUES WERE PLACED IN GUILD-HALL.WHILE his highness, Prince Cockney, the son of Londona, was improving in knowledge and stature, and becoming in fact, an exceedingly spruce and chatty young gentleman, those two excellent and great men, Gog and Magog, were declining into the vale of years. But their assiduous labours for the good of the city, which owed its foundation to the valour and magnanimity of their youthful days, were none relaxed : nor were they merely restricted to public works. They deemed it no less their duty to rectify the abuses which had crept into the government of the country during the mal-administration of Humbug the giant, than to co-operate in measures which had for their object the formation of new institutions, for the benefit of the city of London. Thus affording an example to all future magistrates of the metropolis, not only to go hand-and-glove with the government, but to take care that no corruptions entered into their own department, nor that abuses should be suffered to remain, however respected by age or sanctioned by acquiescence.But, alas! short is the term of human life ; and the wise and good are no more respected by impartial Death than giants, or other bad and tyrannical characters : all must die; and it was ordained that Gog and Magog, though still in a green old age, should, on the same day, pay the debt of Nature.The circumstances attending the death of these illustrious twin-brothers, who in virtue, and all that dignifies human nature, so much excelled the Castor and Pollux of antiquity, have not been narrated. The corporation of London having, with that exquisite taste for which it is so justly celebrated, after a long debate in Guild-hall, determined that it was sufficient to record the date of the event. “It is enough,” said an eloquent draper and citizen, on that mournful occasion, ” to state, that on this day Gog and Magog died. Posterity, in deploring the calamity, will not suspend her weeping to enquire into the cause. It is enough for all the world, and particularly for the city of London, to know, that Gog and Magog were mortal, and are now no more. Gog and Magog are dead! The renowned, the munificent, the courageous, Gog, and Magog, are gone. But their spirit will never die : it will enter into the hearts of all good citizens. I feel it kindling already in my own, and stimulating me, by its immortal fires, to the imitation of their patriotic deeds.”After this pathetic funeral oration, for such it may be justly called, although it contained no flattery, it was unanimously resolved, that the statues of these two famous champions should be placed in the Guild-hall, as a perpetual mark of the estimation in which they had been held by the city ; and the statues were placed there in due course of time accordingly, Thus did that excellent custom arise, of occasionally reverencing the services of the brave and wealthy, by erecting statues and monuments to their memory in the same place.Having now brought our learned and eventful history to a close, it is my humble duty to take leave of the reader with all becoming respect, and to assure him, that if he makes a proper use of the moral inculcated, I may, at some future time, relate the story of John Doe and Richard Roe ; who, though long posterior to Gog and Magog, are no less celebrated at Westminster than the champions of the Princess Londona are in London. And now, heartily wishing all manner of prosperity and renown to the citizens, common council, and aldermen, of the city, in the hope that they will continue to cherish, like Gog and Magog, an invincible animosity against giants, and oppressors of every description, nor ever permit any of the Humbug race to domineer again in their Guild-hall, we conclude, as in duty bound, with – GOD SAVE THE PRINCE REGENT.