The walk—London’s Cheape—Street of the Lombards—Strange bridge—Main arch—The roaring gulf—The boat—Cly-faking—A comfort—The book—The blessed woman—No trap.
So I set out on my walk to see the wonders of the big city, and, as chance would have it, I directed my course to the east. The day, as I have already said, had become very fine, so that I saw the great city to advantage, and the wonders thereof: and much I admired all I saw; and, amongst other things, the huge cathedral, standing so proudly on the most commanding ground in the big city; and I looked up to the mighty dome, surmounted by a golden cross, and I said within myself, ’That dome must needs be the finest in the world’; and I gazed upon it till my eyes reeled, and my brain became dizzy, and I thought that the dome would fall and crush me; and I shrank within myself, and struck yet deeper into the heart of the big city.
‘O Cheapside! Cheapside!’ said I, as I advanced up that mighty thoroughfare, ’truly thou art a wonderful place for hurry, noise, and riches! Men talk of the bazaars of the East—I have never seen them—but I daresay that, compared with thee, they are poor places, silent places, abounding with empty boxes, O thou pride of London’s east!—mighty mart of old renown!—for thou art not a place of yesterday:—long before the Roses red and white battled in fair England, thou didst exist—a place of throng and bustle—place of gold and silver, perfumes and fine linen. Centuries ago thou couldst extort the praises even of the fiercest foes of England. Fierce bards of Wales, sworn foes of England, sang thy praises centuries ago; and even the fiercest of them all, Red Julius himself, wild Glendower’s bard, had a word of praise for London’s ‘Cheape,’ for so the bards of Wales styled thee in their flowing odes. Then, if those who were not English, and hated England, and all connected therewith, had yet much to say in thy praise, when thou wast far inferior to what thou art now, why should true-born Englishmen, or those who call themselves so, turn up their noses at thee, and scoff thee at the present day, as I believe they do? But, let others do as they will, I, at least, who am not only an Englishman, but an East Englishman, will not turn up my nose at thee, but will praise and extol thee, calling thee mart of the world—a place of wonder and astonishment!—and, were it right and fitting to wish that anything should endure for ever, I would say prosperity to Cheapside, throughout all ages—may it be the world’s resort for merchandise, world without end.