Story Of London


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 5.

CHAPTER V.HOW GOG AND MAGOG PROCEEDED TO ATTACK THE CASTLE.The Title Page of John Galt's History of Gog and Magog.WHEN the hill was fortified, by digging the ditch around it, which remains to this day, and the whole inclosed with a strong pallisade, which occupied the line of the present walls ; Gog and Magog invited every person, who had suffered by the tyranny of Humbug, or who resented his manifold aggressions, to take refuge within the inclosure : for, as it was resolved to wage war, until he was completely subdued, it was natural to expect he would wreak his vengeance on all who had suffered by him ; conscious as he was, that they must, therefore, be his enemies.In consequence of a proclamation to this effect, a great number of families, with their property, flocked into the fortress ; and the two champions, and their friends, having, in the mean time, improved their arms and discipline, marched out again to hazard another battle.The giant, awake to the increasing danger of his situation, was not, in the mean time, idle. He strengthened the walls of his castle, exercised his troops with the skill of an experienced general ; and, in the hope that Londona might be induced to mediate between him and the insurgents, he softened the rigours of her captivity. But she was not to be deceived, nor tempted, by this change. Her demeanour towards him remained unaltered ; and, when he sometimes stormed at her stubborn virtue she replied to his fury with silent scorn; as became her beauty, and illustrious birth; and answered his threats, by expressing her perfect persuasion that his downfall was at hand.On the morning of that day, the anniversary of which has ever since been consecrated to manly recreations by the inhabitants of the English capital, under the name of Easter Monday, Gog and Magog advanced towards the walls of the castle, which were thronged with formidable warriors, and bands of archers, stationed at the windows, and on the tops of all the towers. They halted in a field, through which a foot-path then ran, that, in process of time, has become the street of Cheapside ; and Gog, having a large horn suspended from his neck by a leathernthong, stepped out in front, and blew a loud blast, summoning the giant to a parley. Humbug regarded this as a mere bravado ; and, instead of answering, as, according to the laws of war, he was bound to do, he shook his spear at the youthful champion, as if he had been a country-gentleman, and Gog a schoolboy coming to break into his orchard.This convinced the army of Gog and Magog that it was unnecessary to treat with such a fierce and faithless tyrant; but that blows were the only terms in which they ought to address him. Accordingly, they marched bravely up to the castle ; and, getting close under the walls, the archers at the windows, and in the towers, could do them no offence. Humbug, who had not anticipated any such manoeuvre, was, for a moment, disconcerted ; but the evil genius, which constantly attended him, soon suggested an expedient worthy of his character. He ordered the beautiful Londona to be instantly brought forth, with a rope round her neck ; and, looking down from his lofty station over the castle-gate, he cried to Gog and Magog, that, if they did not immediately withdraw their troops, he would strangle the lady before their eyes. This singular and desperate stratagem had the effect intended. The generous Gog and Magog could not remain and see the lady perish ; and, therefore, they immediately drew off their men, and returned, extremely down-hearted at this second failure, to their fortress.