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 4.
CHAPTER IV.HOW GOG AND MAGOG WERE REPULSED BY THE GIANT HUMBUG, AND WHAT ENSUED.THE warden of the castle being at his post, on the top of the highest tower, saw the army of Gog and Magog advancing over Cornhill, and instantly sounded an alarm. Humbug, with all his tyrannical qualities, was not deficient in personal courage ; but, as he was rather advanced in years, corpulent and afflicted with the gout, he could not move about with that celerity which he was wont to shew on the field of glory. However, he buckled on his armour as fast as he could ; and, heading his vassals, boldly issued from the castle-gate, with colours flying, and all the pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war, determined to conquer or die: at all events, to punish the insurgents with exemplary rigour.Gog and Magog not being then versed in the stratagems of war, were not prepared for those open and offensive proceedings. The result was, that the giant and his followers, experienced as they were in military enterprises, completely disconcerted them ; and, after a short conflict, in which no want of courage was shewn on the part of the champions of Londona, and their companions, the brave youths were obliged to make a precipitate retreat.Humbug, fatigued with his exertions in the field, was satisfied with this victory, and retired to his castle ; while the assailants fell back to the top of Ludgate-hill, and halted on a spot which was ever after deemed sacred, and is now occupied by the magnificent structure of St. Paul’s Cathedral.Gog and Magog, conscious that their enterprise had been rashly undertaken, freely confessed this to their companions, but advised them not to consider the cause as hopeless ; on the contrary, to assure themselves, that, by properly using the instruction which they had received from adverse fortune, they would, in the end, attain that object they had all so much at heart.Greatly encouraged by these cheering assurances, the whole party resolved to prosecute the war with redoubled vigour ; and, in order to do so with the more effect, it was agreed that they should march back to the place where the fair had been held, and fortify the hill, as a place of refuge, from the vassals of the giant ; and as a depot for arms and provisions, which they perceived it became necessary to collect, in order to carry on the contest properly. Hence it is that this spot, now called the Tower of London, has, in all subsequent ages, been the grand magazine of the military stores of the British nation : a decided proof of’ the discernment and military genius of Gog and Magog.