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.
CHAPTER II.HOW HUMBUG THE GIANT FELL IN LOVE WITH THE BEAUTIFUL PRINCESS LONDONA.ONE fine summer’s day, as Humbug was taking a stroll by himself, meditating on the benevolence of Nature, in raising so many nutricious herbs, to give beef, mutton, and venison their savoury juices, he happened to spy the charming Londona, walking alone on the margin of a purling brook, now known by the name of Fleet-ditch, and highly celebrated as such by Pope, that great poet ; but which was then a crystal rivulet, overshadowed with elder-trees and Willows. Greatly astonished at the splendor of her beauty, he thought proper to fall desperately in love with her ; not aware that she could never return his passion ; for she was the daughter of a king, whom he had himself dethroned and murdered, many years before ; and whose crown and dignity he had usurped in the most shameful manner.When he beheld Londona he did not know her name ; nor, indeed, was he acquainted that the daughter of his victim existed ; for, from the death of her royal father, that unfortunate princess had remained concealed in the cottage of an old woman called Mary Lebon, who lived at the bottom of the verdant rising ground, so well known to the metropolitan youth of both sexes by the name of Primrose-hill. It has been conjectured that the cottage of old Mary Lebon stood on the very spot where Chalk-farm public-house is now situated, –so renowned as the scene of duels, and other feats of heroism and gallantry.Having looked at the princess some time, and seeing her greatly agitated at the sight of him, which he supposed was owing to the soft impression his appearance made on her heart, he went towards her ; and, falling on his knees at her feet, declared his love with all the rhetoric of which he was master. Placing his hand on his breast, he assured her, with the sincerity of a giant, that the radiance of her eyes quite melted his heart ; and that, if she did not consent to become his bride, he would expire in agonies on the spot, and leave the recollection of his death as a ghost to upbraid her conscience. Londona, however, knew his character too well, to entertain the slightest sympathy for any such love as his ; and moreover, reflecting that he was the murderer of her father, she rejected his fond entreaties with the most dignified contempt.Her scorn, however, only served to inflame his passion ; and he became at last so rude and importunate, that she saw no other way of escaping the menaces of his affection, than by taking to her heels, and running off as fast as she could.Being nimbler than the giant, she would have certainly escaped ; but, unfortunately, in running up Holborn-hill, –which was then a smooth and verdant declivity, enamelled with daisies, –her foot slipped, and she tumbled down. Before she could recover herself, the giant came up; and, seizing her by the hair, carried her to his gloomy abode, and threw her into a dark dungeon, in the hope of thereby gaining her affections.