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 3.
CHAPTER III.HOW GOG AND MAGOG RESOLVED TO AVENGE THE WRONGS OF THE PRINCESS LONDONA.AT the time that Humbug the giant committed this violent outrage on the Princess Londona, a miller, who lived on the identical spot where Westminster-hall now stands, had two sons, twins, called Gog and Magog. These young men were much renowned among persons of their own condition in life, for strength of body, and the generosity of their dispositions. They excelled all their companions in feats of vigour and manly dexterity: in short, there was not one in the whole district, subject to the tyrannical giant, who could compare with Gog and Magog, either in masculine stature, or the valiant virtues of frank and generous hearts.It happened that, on the very day on which the outrage was perpetrated, a fair was held on a green hill; where, by-the-bye, Julius Caesar, many years afterwards, built the Tower: and that Gog and Magog were at the fair, enjoying the sports and pastimes, when the news arrived. Filled with noble indignation at this fresh instance of the giant’s lawless tyranny, they loudly exclaimed to their companions, that it was disgraceful to endure any longer the arbitrary oppression of such a despot; declaring, at the same time, that if they were well supported, they would not scruple to attempt the rescue of the unfortunate princess.Their known bravery, and the valour with which they expressed themselves, gave resolution and energy to all who heard them. The amusements of the fair were suspended; and the most prompt and decisive measures taken, on the instant, to attack the ferocious Humbug, in his gloomy fortress. Gog divided the young men, whom his eloquence had inspired, into different companies, and appointed captains to each: while Magog went with a detachment, breathing revenge, to provide weapons suitable to their warlike enterprise.It is, I presume, unnecessary to inform my attentive auditors, that, in the rude period in which this affair took place, fire-arms were totally unknown; but, perhaps, it is not generally understood, that even swords were not then invented: at least, I have not found any such thing mentioned in the numerous volumes that have furnished me with the materials from which I have compiled this most authentic history. The fact seems to be, that the only warlike weapons then in use, were clubs and shields; but even with these the country lads, who were enjoying the diversions of the fair, were not provided; for I find it recorded, that Magog led his men to the banks of the Fleet rivulet, where they cut down the elder and willow-trees which, as I have already mentioned, overshadowed its limpid and purling waters, and converted the trunks and branches into hostile weapons. With these they returned to Gog; and, having distributed the clubs thus procured, the whole body moved towards the giant’s castle in battle array.