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 6.
CHAPTER VI.HOW GOG AND MAGOG MAGNANIMOUSLY DEVOTED THEIR LIVES AND PROPERTY FOR THE DELIVERANCE OF LONDONA.HUMBUG having discovered, by the effect of this stratagem, that he had the means of controlling his enemies in his own power, no sooner saw the army of the champions at a convenient distance, than he sent out a herald, on a black charger, to demand, by sound of trumpet, as the price of Londona’s life, that the brave twin-brothers should be delivered into his hands. This audacious proposal met with a suitable answer. The whole army, with one heart and voice, exclaimed, with indignation, that they never would be guilty of so great a crime ; that they knew her her life would not be one jot safer by sacrificing Gog and, Magog ; and that, if he ventured to hurt a hair of her head, they would cut him into as many pieces as there were hairs on his own.But Gog and Magog saw that they were never to expect a pardon for their rebellion ; and, therefore, thought the best thing they could do, would be to negociate with the giant, and offer themselves in exchange for the princess. They accordingly communicated this generous intention to their companions, by whom every argument that affection and reason could suggest was urged, in vain, to dissuade them from this self-immolation. They were, however, firm to their purpose ; and, having chosen a proper person to make the overture to the giant, they waited his return with undaunted serenity.Humbug having found, by this time, that it was hopeless to think Londona would ever consent to become his bride, was glad of an opportunity to get at once so well rid of her, and to obtain his two most formidable enemies into his hands. He therefore at once acquiesced in the proposal ; and the next morning was appointed to carry this treaty into effect. The place appointed for Londona to be delivered to the giant, and for Gog and Magog to surrender themselves, was on the top of Cornhill, where the Royal Exchange now stands. Whether the name took its rise from this transaction may be questioned ; but the spot is still held in great reverence by the citizens of London. It is not, however, any part of my task to settle differences of opinion, and I have only alluded to the circumstance, that some learned doctor, more conversant in matters of this sort, may investigate the business for the satisfaction of the members of the Antiquarian Society, as well as the Court of Aldermen, who are all lamentably ignorant of the illustrious fact, of which I have the felicity of being the first modern historian. What ancient authorities have said on the subject, falls not within the scope of the present narrative.