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 7.
CHAPTER VII.HOW GOG AND MAGOG WERE EXCHANGED FOR THE PRINCESS LONDONA.THE lady was led to the spot veiled, and in tears, at the time appointed; and Gog and Magog, her gallant champions, stepped forward, at the same moment, with a manly air, and delivered themselves into the hands of the officers of their implacable enemy, by whom they were immediately conducted to the castle, in the hall of which Humbug was seated, at the upper end.It would require the pen, of a master to describe the interview. The giant looked at the two courageous youths with an aspect of mingled revenge and cruelty, and his huge bulk was terribly shaken with the conflict of violent passions. At one moment he seemed disposed to tear them in pieces, and give their limbs to his dogs ; at another he eyed them with an expression of abhorrence, as if he had a presentiment that they were destined to end his flagitious career. But, after debating within himself in what manner he might best glut his vengeance by their destruction, and spitting in their faces with perfect rage, he ordered them to be thrown into separate dungeons, to await his pleasure.
Gog and Magog, as you have seen, being possessed of firm and undaunted minds, listened to the exasperated threats of the tyrant in the coolest manner; and, warily casting their eyes round the hall, saw piles of clubs and shields in different places. Having been born twins, and resembling each other strongly in person and character, they happened also to think much alike ; accordingly, without communicating their thoughts to one another, they both resolved, at the same time, that, when they were next brought before the giant to take an opportunity of seizing some of the arms in the hall, and free themselves and their country from his oppression on the spot.In the mean time, Londona, who had been conducted by the friends of Gog and Magog to the fortress, was inconsolable at the idea of having caused the death of two such courageous young men ; for it was not doubted that Humbug had sacrificed them to his ungovernable vengeance. When she had awhile indulged her sorrow for their fate, she recollected that, being herself the daughter of a British king, she was qualified to lead armies to battle ; and that it more became her blood, and birth, to avenge the wrongs that had been done, than to bewail it with tears. She thereupon rose from the seat where she had sat weeping ; and, going out to the crowd of young men who were mourning the loss of their leaders, and repining at their own want of resolution, in permitting such a sacrifice to take place, addressed them in very lofty language, and rebuked them for thinking that she, the daughter of a royal line, would tamely allow the destroyer of her father, the usurper of her birthright, and the wasteful oppressor of their common country, to continue in the enjoyment of his crimes.The heroic sentiments of Londona met with lively sympathy in every bosom. Shouts of admiration and devotion answered her address, followed with cries of impatience to be led on to attack the tyrant in his strong-hold.