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G. Cockburn, M.P., sir R.Wilson, M.P., Mr. T. Wilson, M.P., Mr. W. Williams, M. P., Mr. Davies Gilbert, M.P., Mr.W. Smith, M.P., Mr. Holme Sumner, M.P., with several other persons of distinction, and the common sergeant, the city pleaders, and other city officers. The lord mayor took his station by the side of the stone, attended by four gentlemen of the committee, bearing, one, the glasscut bottle to contain the coins of the present reign, another, an English inscription incrusted in glass, another, the mallet, and another, the level. The sub-chairman of the committee, bearing the golden trowel, took his station on the side of the stone opposite the lord mayor. The engineer, John Rennie, esq., took his place on another side of the stone, and exhibited to the lord mayor the plans and drawings of the bridge. The members of the committee of management, presented to the lord mayor the cut glass bottle which was intended to contain the several coins. The ceremony commenced by the children belonging to the wards' schools. Candlewick, Bridge, and Dowgate, singing “God save the King.” They were stationed in the highest eastern gallery for that purpose; the effect * by their voices, stealing through the windings caused by the intervening timbers to the depth below, was very striking and peculiar. The chamberlain delivered to his lordship the several pieces of coin: his lordship put them into the bottle, and deposited the bottle in the place whereon the foundation stone was to be laid. The members of the committee, bearing the English inscription incrusted on glasses, presented it to the lord mayor. His lordship deposited it in the subjacent stone. Mr. Jones, sub-chairman of the Bridge Committee, who attended in purple gowns and with staves, presented the lord mayor, on behalf of the committee, with an elegant silver-gilt trowel, embossed with the combined arms of the “Bridge House Estate and the City of London," and bearing on the reverse an inscription of the date, and design of its presentation to the right hon. the lord mayor, who was born in the ward, and is a member of the guild wherein the new bridge is situated. This trowel was designed by Mr. John Green, of Ludgate
hill, and executed by Messrs. Green, Ward, and Green, in which firm he is |...". Mr. Jones, on presenting it to the ord mayor, thus addressed his lordship: “My lord, I have the honour to inform you, that the committee of management has appointed your lordship, in your character of lord mayor of London, to lay the first stone of the new London-bridge, and that they have directed me to present to your lordship this trowel as a means of assistance to your lordship in accomplishing that object.” The lord mayor having signified his consent to perform the ceremony, Henry Woodthorpe, esq., the town clerk, who has lately obtained the degree of L. L. D., held the copper plate about to be placed beneath the stone with the following inscription upon it, composed by Dr. Coplestone, master of Oriel-college, Oxford':— Pontis vetvsti qvvm propter crebras nimis interiectas moles impedito cvrsv flvminis navicvlae et rates non levi saepe iact vra et vitae pericvlo per angwstas favoes praecipiti aqvarvin impetv ferri solerent Civitas Londinensis his incommodis remidivin adhibere volens et celeberrimi simvl in terris emporii vtilitatibws consvlens regni insv per senatvs avctoritate ac mynificentia adivta pontem - - sitv prorsvs novo amplioribvs spatiis construendvin decrew ea scilicet forma ac magnitvdine qvae regiae vrbis maiestati tandem responderet. Neqve alio magis tempore tantum opvs inchoandvim dvXit qvam cvm pacato ferme toto terrarvim orbe In perivrn Britannicvm fama opibus myltitvdine civivim et concordia pollens principe item gavderet artivn favtore ac patrono cvivs swb avspiciis novvs indies acdificiorvin splendor vrbi accederet.
the free course of the river being obstructed by the numerous piers of the ancient bridge, and the passage of boats and vessels through its narrow channels being often attended with danger and loss of life by reason of the force and rapidity of the current, the City of London, desirous of providing a remedy for this evil, and at the same time consulting the convenience of commerce in this vast emporium of all nations, under the sanction and with the liberal aid of parliament,
resolved to erect a bridge upon a foundation altogether new, with arches of wider span, and of a character corresponding to the diguity and importance of this royal city: nor does any other time seem to be more suitable for such an undertaking than when in a period of universal peace the British empire, flourishing in glory, wealth, population, and domestic union, is governed by a prince, the patron and encourager of the arts, under whose auspices the metropolis has been o advancing in elegance and splendour.
The first stone of this work was lai by John Garratt, esquire, lord mayor, on the 15th day of June, in the sixth year of king jeorge the Fourth, and in the year of our Lord m.d.ccc.xxv.
John Rennie, F.R.S. architect. Dr. Woodthorpe read the Latin inscription aloud, and the lord mayor, turning to the duke of York, addressed his royal highness and the rest of the company. Lord Mayor's Speech.
“It is unnecessary for me to say much upon the purpose for which we are assembied this day, for its importance to this great commercial city must be evident; but I cannot refrain from offering a few observations, feeling as I do more than ordinary interest in the accomplishment of the undertaking, of which this day's ceremony is the primary step. , I should not consider the present a favourable moment to enter into the chronology or detailed history of the present venerable structure, which is now, from the increased commerce of the country, and the rapid strides made by the sciences in this kingdom, found inadequate to its purposes, but would rather advert to the great advantages which will necessarily result from the execution of this national work. Whether there be taken into consideration, the rapid and consequently dangerous currents arising from the obstructions occasioned by the defects of this ancient edifice, which have proved destructive to human life and to property, or its difficult and incommodious approaches and acclivity, it must be a matter of sincere congratulation that we are living in times when the resources of this highly favoured country are competent to a work of such great public utility. If ever there was a period more suitable than another for em
barking in national improvements, it must be the present, governed as we are by a sovereign, patron of the arts, under whose mild and paternal sway (by the blessing of divine providence) we now enjoy profound peace; living under a government by whose enlightened and liberal policy our trade and manufactures are in a flourishing state; represented by a parliament whose acts of munificence shed a lustre upon their proceedings: thus happily situated, it is impossible not to hail such advantages with other feelings than those of gratitude and delight. I cannot conclude these remarks without acknowledging how highly complimentary I feel it to the honourable office I now fill, to view such an auditory as surrounds me, among whom are his majesty's ministers, several distinguished nobles of the land, the magistrates and commonalty of this ancient and loyal city, and above all, (that which must ever enlighten and give splendour to any scene,) a brilliant assembly of the other sex, all of whom, I feel assured, will concur with me in expressing an earnest wish that the new London-bridge, when completed, may reflect credit upon the architects, prove an ornament to the netropolis, and redound to the honour of its corporation. I offer up a sincere and fervent prayer, that in executing this great work, there may occur no calamity; that in performing that which is most particularly intended as a prevention of future danger, no mischief may occur with the general admiration of the undertaking.” The lord mayor's address was received with cheers. His lordship then spread the mortar, and the stone was gradually lowered by two men at a windlass. When finally adjusted, the lord mayor struck it on the surface several times with a longhandled mallet, and proceeded to ascertain the accuracy of its position, by placing a level on the top of the east end, and then to the north, west, and south; his lordship passing to each side of the stone for that purpose, and in that order. The city sword and mace were then placed on it crossways; the foundation of the new London-bridge was declared to be laid; the music struck up “God save the King;” and three times three excessive cheers, broke forth from the company; the guns of the honourable Artillery Company, on the Old Swan Wharf, fired a salute by signal, and every face wore smiles of gratulation. Three cheers were afterwards given for the duke of York; three for Old England; and three for the architect, Mr. Rennie.
It was observed in the coffer-dam, as a remarkable circumstance, that as the day advanced, a splendid sunbeam, which had penetrated through an accidental space in the awning above, gradually approached towards the stone as the hour for laying it advanced, and during the ceremony, shone upon it with dazzling lustre.
At the conclusion of the proceedings, the lord mayor, with the duke of York, and the other visitors admitted to the floor of the coffer-dam, retired; after which, many of the company in the galleries came down to view the stone, and several of the younger ones were allowed to ascend and walk over it. Some ladies were handed up, and all who were so indulged, departed with the satisfaction of being enabled to relate an achievement honourable to their feelings.
Among the candidates for a place upon the stone, was a gentleman who had witnessed the scene with great interest, and seemed to wait with considerable anxiety for an opportunity of joining in the pleasure of its transient occupants. This gentleman was P.T. W., by which initials he is known to the readers of the Morning Herald, and other journals. The lightness and agility of his person, favoured the enthusiasm of his purpose; he leapt on the stone, and there
toeing it and heeling it, With ball-room grace, and merry face, Kept livelily quadrilling it, till three cheers from the spectators announced their participation in his merriment; he then tripped off with a graceful bow, amidst the clapping of hands and other testimonials of satisfaction at a performance wholly singular, because unprecedented, unimitated, and inimitable.
The lord mayor gave a grand dinner in the Egyptian-hall, at the Mansionhouse, to 376 guests; the duke of York, being engaged to dine with the king, could not attend. The present lord mayor has won his way to the hearts of good livers, by his entertainments, and the court of common council commenced its proceedings on the following day by honourable mention of him for this entertainment especially, and complacently re
ceived a notice to do him further honour for the general festivity of his mayoralty.
His lordship's name is Garratt; he is a tea-dealer. Stow mentions that one of similar name, and a grocer, was commemorated by an epitaph in our lady's chapel, in the church of St. Saviour's, Southwark; which church the first pier of the proposed bridge adjoins. He says,
Upon a faire stone under the Grocers’ arms, is this inscription :
Garret some cal'd him, but that was too hye, His name is Garrard, who now here doth lye ; Weepe not for him since he is gone before To heaven, where Grocers there are many more.”
It is supposed that the first bridge of London was built between the years 993 and 1016; it was of wood. There is a vulgar tradition, that the foundation of the old stone bridge was laid upon woolpacks: this report is imagined to have arisen from a tax laid upon wool towards its construction. The first stone-bridge began in 1176, and finished in 1209, was much injured by a fire in the Borough, in 1212, and three thousand people perished. On St. George's day, 1395, there was a great justing upon it, between David, earl of Crawford, of Scotland, and lord Wells of England. It had a drawbridge for the passage of ships with provisions to Queenhithe,with houses upon it, mostly tenanted by pin and needlemakers: there was a chapel on the bridge, and a tower, whereon the heads of unfortunate partisans were placed : an old map of the city, in 1597, represents a terrible cluster; in 1598, Hentzner the German traveller, counted above thirty poles with heads. Upon this bridge was placed the head of the great chancellor, sir Thomas More, which was blown off the pole into the Thames and found by a waterman, who gave it to his daughter; she kept it during life as a relic, and directed at her death it should be placed in her arms and buried with her.
Howel, the author of “Londinopolis,” in a paraphrase of some lines by Sannazarius, has this—
* Stow's Survey, 1633, page 886.
Encomium on London-bridge.
When Neptune from his billows London o
Thus has commenced, under the most favourable auspices, a structure which is calculated to secure from danger the domestic commerce of the port of London. That such a work has not long since been executed, is attributable more to the financial difficulties under which the corporation of London has been labouring for the last quarter of a century, than to any doubts of its being either expedient or necessary. A similar design to that which is now in course of execution, was in contemplation more than thirty years ago; and we believe that many of the first architects of the day sent in plans for the removal of the old bridge, and the construction of a new bridge in its place. A want of funds to complete such an undertaking compelled the projectors of it, to abandon it for a time; but the improved condition of the finances of the corporation, the increasing commerce of the city of London with the internal parts of the country, the growing prosperity of the nation at large, and we may also add, a more general conviction derived from longer experience, that the present bridge was a nuisance which deserved to be abated, induced them to resume it, and to resume it with a zeal proportionate to the magnitude of the object which they had in view. Application was made to parliament for the grant of a sum of money to a purpose which, when considered with regard either to local or to national interests, was of great importance. That application was met with a spirit of liberality which conferred as much honour upon the party who received, as upon the party who gave, the bounty. The first results of it were be
held in the operations of to-day; the further results are in the bosom of time; but from the spirit with which the work has been commenced, we have no doubt but they will tend no less to the benefit, than the glory, of the citizens of London.” There is something peculiarly imposing and impressive in ceremonies of this description, as they are usually conducted, and we certainly do not recollect any previous spectacle of a similar nature, which can be said to have surpassed in general interest, grandeur of purpose, or splendid effect, than that just recorded. It is at all times agreeable to a philosophical mind, and an understanding which busies itself, not only with the surface and present state of things, but also with their substance and remote tendencies, to contemplate the exercise of human power, and the triumphs of human ingenuity, whether developed in physical or mental efforts, in the pursuit of objects which comprehend a mixture of both. And perhaps, it is in a good degree attributable to this secret impulse of our nature, which operates in some degree upon all, however silent and imperceptible in its operation, that the mass of mankind are accustomed to take such an eager interest in ceremonials like the present. It is true, that show, and preparation, and bustle, and the excitement consequent upon these, are the immediate and apparent motives; but it does not therefore follow that the other reasons are inefficient, or that because they are less prominent and apparent, they are therefore inoperative. The erection of a bridge, without reference to the immediate object or the extent of its design, is per sea triumph of art over nature—a conquering of one of these obstacles, which the latter, even in her most bountiful and propitious designs, delights to present to man, as if for the purpose of calling his powers into exercise, and affording him the quantity of excitement necessary to the happiness of a sentient being. But if we do not entertain these sentiments, and give them utterance in so many words, we nevertheless feel and act upon them. We delight to attend spectacles like the present, where the first germ of a stunqous work is to be prepared. We k round on the complicated apparatus, and the seemingly discordant and unorganized beams and blocks of wood and granite, and then we think of the simple structure, the harmonious and complete whole to which these confused elements will give birth. Such a structure is pregnant with a multitude of almost indefinable thoughts and anticipations. We bethink ourselves of the stream of human life, which, some five years hence, will flow over the new London-bridge as thickly, and almost with as little cessation, as the waters of the Thames below: and then we reflect upon the tide of hopes and fears which that human stream will carry in its bosoml One of our first, reflections will necessarily be of its adaptation to trade and commerce, of which it will then constitute a new and immense conduit. Trade, and science, and learning, and war, (Providence long avert it!) will at various periods pass across it. Next we consider what will be the immediate and individual destiny of the structure:—is it to moulder away after the lapse of many ages, under the slow but effectual influence of time, or to suffer dilapidation suddenly from the operation of some natural convulsion ? Will it fall before the wrath or wilfulness of man, or is it to be displaced by new improvements and discoveries, in like manner as its old and many-arched neighbour makes way for it—and as that once superseded its narrower and shop-covered predecessor? These are questions which the imaginative man may ask himself; but who is to answer However, even the man of business may be well excused in indulging some speculations such as these, upon the occasion of the erection of a structure, which is to constitute a new artery to and fro in the mighty heart of London—a No. 26,
* The Times.
fresh vein through which that commerce, which is the life-blood of our national
rosperity and greatness will have to flow.”
This is one of those public occurrences which may be considered as an event in a man's life, and an epoch in the city's history—a sort of station in one's worldly journey, from which we measure our distances and dates. To witness the manner and the moment, in which is laid the first single resting stone of a grand national structure—the very origin of the existence of a massive and magnificent pile, which will require years to complete, and ages to destroy, has an elevating and sub lime effect on the mind.
Great public works are the truest signs of a nation's prosperity and power; origina:ly its grandest ornaments, and ultimately the strongest proofs of its existence. Its religion, language, arts, sciences, government, and history, may be swept into nothingness; but yet its national buildings will remain entire through the lapse of successive ages—after their very founders are forgotten—after their local history has become a mere matter of conjecture. The columns of Palmyra stand over the ashes of their framers, in a desert as well of history as of sand. The palaces of imperial Rome are still existing, though her religion, her very language, is dead; and the history of the man-wrought miracles of Egypt, had been looked at but as the very dreamings of philosophy long before Napoleon said to his Egyption army—“From the summits of these pyramids, forty centuries are looking down upon you.”
Of all public edifices, a bridge is the most necessary, the most generally and frequently useful—open at all hours and to all persons. It was probably the very first public building. Some conjecture, that the first hint of it was taken from an uprooted tree lying across a narrow current. What a difference between that first natural bridge, and the perfection of pontifical architecture—the vast, solid, and splendid Waterloo-the monumentum si quaeras of John Rennie. We feel pleasure in learning, that the new Londonbridge has been designed by the same distinguished architect. It falls to the lot of the son to consummate the plans of the father—we hope with equal success,
* British Press.