ful of being overheard.
He was very much astonished when he approached the gallery
again, to see a light in the building; still more so, on advancing
hastily and looking round, to observe no visible source from which
it could proceed. But how much greater yet was his astonishment
at the spectacle which this light revealed.
14 MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK
The statues of the two giants, Gog and Magog, each above four-
teen feet in height, those which succeeded to still older and more
barbarous figures, after the Great Fire of London, and which stand
in the Guildhall to this day, were endowed with life and motion.
These guardian genii of the City had quitted their pedestals, and
reclined in easy attitudes in the great stained glass window. Be-
tween them was an ancient cask, which seemed to be full of wine ;
for the younger Giant, clapping his huge hand upon it, and throw-
ing up his mighty leg, burst into an exulting laugh, which rever-
berated through the hall like thunder.
Joe Toddyhigh instinctively stooped down, and, more dead than
alive, felt his hair stand on end, his knees knock together, and a
cold damp break out upon his forehead. But even at that minute
curiosity prevailed over every other feeling, and somewhat re-
assured by the good-humour of the Giants and their apparent
unconsciousness of his presence, he crouched in a corner of the
gallery, in as small a space as he could, and, peeping between the
rails, observed them closely.
It was then that the elder Giant, who had a flowing grey beard,
raised his thoughtful eyes to his companion's face, and in a grave
and solemn voice addressed him thus:
FIRST NIGHT OF THE GIANT CHRONICLES
Turning towards his companion, the elder Giant uttered these
words in a grave, majestic tone:
^Magog, does boisterous mirth beseem the Giant Warder of this
ancient city? Is this becoming demeanour for a watchful spirit
over whose bodiless head so many years have rolled, so many
changes swept like empty air — in whose impalpable nostrils the
scent of blood and crime, pestilence, cruelty, and horror, has been
familiar as breath to mortals— in whose sight Time has gathered in
the harvest of centuries, and garnered so many crops of human
pride, affections, hopes, and sorrows? Bethink you of our compact.
The night wanes; feasting, revelry, and music have encroached
upon our usual hours of solitude, and morning will be here apace.
Ere we are stricken mute again, bethink you of our compact.'
Pronouncing these latter words with more of impatience than
quite accorded with his apparent age and gravity, the Giant raised
MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK 15
a long pole (which he still bears in his hand) and tapped his
brother Giant rather smartly on the head; indeed, the blow was so
smartly administered, that the latter quickly withdrew his lips
from the cask, to which they had been applied, and, catching up
his shield and halberd, assumed an attitude of defence. His irrita-
tion was but momentary, for he laid these weapons aside as hastily
as he had assumed them, and said as he did so:
'You know, Gog, old friend, that when we animate these shapes
which the Londoners of old assigned (and not unworthily) to the
guardian genii of their city, we are susceptible of some of the sen-
sations which belong to human kind. Thus when I taste wine, I
feel blows; when I relish the one, I disrelish the other. Therefore,
Gog, the more especially as your arm is none of the lightest, keep
your good staff by your side, else we may chance to differ. Peace
be between us!'
'Amen!' said the other, leaning his staff in the window-corner.
'Why did you laugh just now?'
'To think,' replied the Giant Magog, laying his hand upon the
cask, 'of him who owned this wine, and kept it in a cellar hoarded
from the light of day, for thirty years, — "till it should be fit to
drink," quoth he. He was twoscore and ten years old when he
buried it beneath his house, and yet never thought that he might
be scarcely "fit to drink" when the wine became so. I wonder it
never occurred to him to make himself unfit to be eaten. There is
very little of him left by this time.'
'The night is waning,' said Gog mournfully.
'I know it,' replied his companion, 'and I see you are impatient.
But look. Through the eastern window — placed opposite to us,
that the first beams of the rising sun may every morning gild our
giant faces — the moonrays fall upon the pavemeni in a stream of
light that to my fancy sinks through the cold stone and gushes into
the old crypt below\ The night is scarcely past its noon, and our
great charge is sleeping heavily.'
They ceased to speak, and looked upward at the moon. The
sight of their large, black, rolling eyes filled Joe Toddyhigh with
such horror that he could scarcely draw his breath. Still they took
no note of him, and appeared to believe themselves quite alone.
'Our compact,' said Magog after a pause, 'is, if I understand it,
that, instead of watching here in silence through the dreary nights,
16 MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK
we entertain each other with stories of our past experience; with
tales of the past, the present, and the future ; with legends of Lon-
don and her sturdy citizens from the old simple times. That every
night at midnight, when St. Paul's bell tolls out one, and we may
move and speak, we thus discourse, nor leave such themes till the
first gray gleam of day shall strike us dumb. Is that our bargain,
'Yes,' said the Giant Gog, 'that is the league between us who
guard this city, by day in spirit, and by night in body also; and
never on ancient holidays have its conduits run wine more merrily
than we will pour forth our legendary lore. We are old chroniclers
from this time hence. The crumbled walls encircle us once more,
the postern-gates are closed, the draw-bridge is up, and pent in its
narrow den beneath, the water foams and struggles with the sunken
starlings. Jerkins and quarter-staves are in the streets again, the
nightly watch is set, the rebel, sad and lonely in his Tower dungeon,
tries to sleep and weeps for home and children. Aloft upon the
gates and walls are noble heads glaring fiercely down upon the
dreaming city, and vexing the hungry dogs that scent them in the
air, and tear the ground beneath with dismal bowlings. The axe,
the block, the rack, in their dark chambers give signs of recent use.
The Thames, floating past long lines of cheerful windows whence
come a burst of music and a stream of light, bears suddenly to the
Palace wall the last red stain brought on the tide from Traitor's
Gate. But your pardon, brother. The night wears, and I am talk-
The other Giant appeared to be entirely of this opinion, for
during the foregoing rhapsody of his fellow-sentinel he had been
scratching his head with an air of comical uneasiness, or rather
with an air that would have been very comical if he had been a
dwarf or an ordinary-sized man. He winked too, and though it
could not be doubted for a moment that he winked to himself, still
he certainly cocked his enormous eye towards the gallery where
the listener was concealed. Nor was this all, for he gaped; and
when he gaped, Joe was horribly reminded of the popular pre-
judice on the subject of giants, and of their fabled power of smell-
ing out Englishmen, however closely concealed.
His alarm was such that he nearly swooned, and it was some
little time before his power of sight or hearing was restored. When
MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK 17
he recovered he found that the elder Giant was pressing the
younger to commence the Chronicles, and that the latter was en-
deavouring to excuse himself, on the ground that the night was far
spent, and it would be better to wait until the next. Well assured
by this that he was certainly about to begin directly, the listener
collected his faculties by a great effort, and distinctly heard Magog
express himself to the following effect:
In the sixteenth century and in the reign of Queen Elizabeth of
glorious memory (albeit her golden days are sadly rusted with
blood), there lived in the city of London a bold young 'prentice
who loved his master's daughter. There were no doubt within the
walls a great many 'prentices in this condition, but I speak of only
one, and his name was Hugh Graham.
This Hugh was apprenticed to an honest Bowyer who dwelt in
the ward of Cheype, and was rumoured to possess great wealth.
Rumour was quite as infallible in those days as at the present time,
but it happened then as now to be sometimes right by accident. It
stumbled upon the truth when it gave the old Bowyer a mint of
money. His trade had been a profitable one in the time of King
Henry the Eighth, who encouraged English archery to the utmost,
and he had been prudent and discreet. Thus it came to pass that
Mistress Alice, his only daughter, w^as the richest heiress in all his
wealthy ward. Young Hugh had often maintained with staff and
cudgel that she was the handsomest. To do him justice, I believe
If he could have gained the heart of pretty Mistress Alice by
knocking this conviction into stubborn people's heads, Hugh would
have had no cause to fear. But though the Bowyer's daughter
smiled in secret to hear of his doughty deeds for her sake, and
though her little waiting-woman reported all her smiles (and many
more) to Hugh, and though he was at a vast expense in kisses and
small coin to recompense her fidelity, he made no progress in his
love. He durst not whisper it to Mistress Alice save on sure en-
couragement, and that she never gave him. A glance of her dark
eye as she sat at the door on a summer's evening after prayer-time,
while he and the neighbouring 'prentices exeici-:ed themselves in
the street with blunted sword and buckler, would fire Hugh's blood
so that none could stand before him ; but then she glanced at others
18 MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK
quite as kindly as on him, and where was the use of cracking
crowns if Mistress Alice smiled upon the cracked as well as on the
Still Hugh went on, and loved her more and more. He thought
of her all day, and dreamed of her all night long. He treasured up
her every word and gesture, and had a palpitation of the heart
whenever he heard her footstep on the stairs or her voice in an
adjoining room. To him, the old Bowyer's house was haunted by
an angel ; there was enchantment in the air and space in which sfie
moved. It would have been no miracle to Hugh if flowers had
sprung from the rush-strewn floors beneath the tread of lovely
Never did 'prentice long to distinguish himself in the eyes of his
lady-love so ardently as Hugh. Sometimes he pictured to himself
the house taking fire by night, and he, when all drew back in fear,
rushing through flame and smoke, and bearing her from the ruins
in his arms. At other times he thought of a rising of fierce rebels,
an attack upon the city, a strong assault upon the Bowyer's house
in particular, and he falling on the threshold pierced with number-
less wounds in defense of Mistress Alice. If he could only enact
some prodigy of valour, do some wonderful deed, and let her know
that she had inspired it, he thought he could die contented.
Sometimes the Bowyer and his daughter would go out to supper
with a worthy citizen at the fashionable hour of six o'clock, and on
such occasions Hugh, wearing his blue 'prentice cloak as gallantly
as 'prentice might, would attend with a lantern and his trusty club
to escort them home. These were the brightest moments of his life.
To hold the light while Mistress Alice picked her steps, to touch
her hand as he helped her over broken ways, to have her leaning
on his arm, — it sometimes even came to that, — this was happiness
When the nights were fair, Hugh followed in the rear, his eyes
riveted on the graceful figure of the Bowyer's daughter as she and
the old man moved on before him. So they threaded the narrow
winding streets of the city, now passing beneath the overhanging
gables of old wooden houses whence creaking signs projected into
the street, and now emerging from some dark and frowning gate-
way into the clear moonlight. At such times, or when the shouts of
Straggling brawlers met her ear, the Bowyer's daughter would look
MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK 19
timidly back at Hugh, beseeching him to draw nearer; and then
how he grasped his club and longed to do battle with a dozen ruf-
flers, for the love of Mistress Alice!
The old Bowyer was in the habit of lending money on interest to
the gallants of the Court, and thus it happened that many a richly-
dressed gentleman dismounted at his door. More waving plumes
and gallant steeds, indeed, were seen at the Bowyer's house, and
more embroidered silks and velvets sparkled in his dark shop and
darker private closet, than at any merchant's in the city. In those
times no less than in the present it would seem that the richest-
looking cavaliers often wanted money the most.
Of these glittering clients there was one who always came alone.
He was nobly mounted, and, having no attendant, gave his horse in
charge to Hugh while he and the Bowyer were closeted within.
Once as he sprung into the saddle Mistress Alice was seated at an
upper window, and before she could withdraw he had doffed his
jewelled cap and kissed his hand. Hugh watched him caracoling
down the street, and burnt with indignation. But how much deeper
was the glow that reddened in his cheeks when, raising his eyes to
the casement, he saw that Alice watched the stranger too!
He came again and often, each time arrayed more gaily than
before, and still the little casement showed him Mistress Alice. At
length one heavy day, she fled from home. It had cost her a hard
struggle, for all her old father's gifts were strewn about her cham-
ber as if she had parted from them one by one, and knew that the
time must come when these tokens of his love would wring her
heart, — yet she was gone.
She left a letter commending her poor father to the care of Hugh,
and wishing he might be happier than ever he could have been with
her, for he deserved the love of a better and a purer heart than she
had to bestow. The old man's forgiveness (she said) she had no
power to ask, but she prayed God to bless him, — and so ended with
a blot upon the paper where her tears had fallen.
At first the old man's wrath was Jcindled, and he carried his
wrong to the Queen's throne itself; but there was no redress he
learnt at Court, for his daughter had been conveyed abroad. This
afterwards appeared to be the truth, as there came from France,
after an interval of several years, a letter in her hand. It was writ-
ten in trembling characters, and almost illegible. Little could be
20 MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK
made out save that she often thought of home and her old dear
pleasant room, — and that she had dreamt her father was dead and
had not blessed her, — and that her heart was breaking.
The poor old Bowyer lingered on, never suffering Hugh to quit
his sight, for he knew now that he had loved his daughter, and that
was the only link that bound him to earth. It broke at length and
he died, bequeathing his old 'prentice his trade and all his wealth,
and solemnly charging him with his last breath to revenge his child
if ever he who had worked her misery crossed his path in life again.
From the time of Alice's flight, the tilting-ground, the fields, the
fencing-school, the summer-evening sports, knew Hugh no more.
His spirit was dead within him. He rose to great eminence and
repute among the citizens, but was seldom seen to smile, and never
mingled in their revelries or rejoicings. Brave, humane, and gen-
erous, he was beloved by all. He was pitied too by those who knew
his story, and these were so many that when he walked along the
streets alone at dusk, even the- rude common people doffed their
caps and mingled a rough air of sympathy with their respect.
One night in May — it was her birthnight, and twenty years since
she had left her home — Hugh Graham sat in the room she had
hallowed in his boyish days. He was now a grey-haired man,
though still in the prime of life, pid thoughts had borne him com-
pany for many hours, and the chamber had gradually grown quite
dark, when he was roused by a low knocking at the outer door.
He hastened down, and opening it saw by the light of a lamp
which he had seized upon the way, a female figure crouching in the
portal. It hurried swiftly past him and glided up the stairs. He
looked for pursuers. There were none in sight. No, not one.
He was inclined to think it a vision of his own brain, when
suddenly a vague suspicion of the truth flashed upon his mind.
He barred the door, and hastened wildly back. Yes, there she was,
— there, in the chamber he had quitted, — there in her old innocent,
happy home, so changed that none but he could trace one gleam of
what she had been, — there upon her knees, — with her hands
clasped in agony and shame before her burning face.
'My God, my God,' she cried, 'now strike me dead! Though I
have brought death and shame and sorrow on this roof, O, let m^
die at home in mercy!'
There was no tear upon her face then, but she trembled and
MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK 21
glanced round the chamber. Everything was in its old place. Her
bed looked as if she had risen from it but that morning. The sight
of these familiar objects, marking the dear remembrance in which
she had been held, and the blight she had brought upon herself,
was more than the woman's better nature that had carried her there
could bear. She wept and fell upon the ground.
A rumour was spread about, in a few days' time, that the Bow-
yer's cruel daughter had come home, and that Master Graham had
given her lodging in his house. It was rumoured too that he had
resigned her fortune, in order that she might bestow it in acts of
charity, and that he had vowed to guard her in her solitude, but
that they were never to see each other more. These rumours greatly
incensed all virtuous wives and daughters in the ward, especially
when they appeared to receive some corroboration from the cir-
cumstance of Master Graham taking up his abode in another tene-
ment hard by. The estimation in which he was held, however, for-
bade any questioning on the subject; and as the Bowyer's house
was closed up, and nobody came forth when public shows and fes-
tivities were in progress, or to flaunt in the public walks, or to buy
new fashions at the mercers' booths, all the well-conducted females
agreed among themselves that there could be no woman there.
These reports had scarcely died away when the wonder of every
good citizen, male and female, was utterly absorbed and swallowed
up by a Royal Proclamation, in which her Majesty, strongly cen-
suring the practice of wearing long Spanish rapiers of preposterous
length (as being a bullying and swaggering custom, tending to
bloodshed and public disorder), commanded that on a particular
day therein named, certain grave citizens should repair to the city
gates, and there, in public, break all rapiers worn or carried by per-
sons claiming admission, that exceeded, though it were only by a
q^iarter of an inch, three standard feet in length.
Royal Proclamations usually take their course, let the public
wonder never so much. On the appointed day two citizens of high
repute took up their stations at each of the gates, attended by a
party of the city guard, the main body to enforce the Queen's will,
and take custody of all such rebels (if any) as might have the
temerity to dispute it: and a few to bear the standard measures and
instruments for reducing all unlawful sword-blades to the pres-
cribed dimensions. In pursuance of these arrangements^ Master
22 MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK
Graham and another were posted at Lud Gate, on the hill before
A pretty numerous company were gathered together at this spot;
for, besides the officers in attendance to enforce the proclamation,
there was a motley crowd of lookers-on of various degrees, who
raised from time to time such shouts and cries as the circumstances
called forth. A spruce young courtier was the first who approached:
he unsheathed a weapon of burnished steel that shone and glistened
in the sun, and handed it with the newest air to the officer, who,
finding it exactly three feet long, returned it with a bow. There-
upon the gallant raised his hat and crying, 'God save the Queen!'
passed on amidst the plaudits of the mob. Then came another — a
better courtier still — who wore a blade but two feet long, whereat
the people laughed, much to the disparagement of his honour's dig-
nity. Then came a third, a sturdy old officer of the army, girded
with a rapier at least a foot and a half beyond her Majesty's
pleasure ; at him they raised a great shout, and most of the specta-
tors (but especially those who were armourers or cutlers) laughed
very heartily at the breakage which would ensue. But they were
disappointed; for the old campaigner, coolly unbuckling his sword
and bidding his servant carry it home again, passed through un-
armed, to the great indignation of all the beholders. They relieved
themselves in some degree by hooting a tall blustering fellow with
a prodigious weapon, who stopped short on coming in sight of the
preparations, and after a little consideration turned back again,
But all this time no rapier had been broken, although it was high
noon, and all cavaliers of any quality or appearance were taking
their way towards Saint PauFs churchyard.
During these proceedings. Master Graham had stood apart,
strictly confining himself to the duty imposed upon him, and taking
little heed of anything beyond. He stepped forward now as a
richly-dressed gentleman on foot, followed by a single attendant,
was seen advancing up the hill.
As this person drew nearer, the crowd stopped their clamour, and
bent forward with eager looks. Master Graham standing alone in
the gateway, and the stranger coming slowly towards him, they
seemed, as it were set face to face. The nobleman (for he looked
one) had a haughty and disdainful air, which bespoke the slight
estimation in which he held the citizen. The citizen, on the othei
MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK 23
hand, preserved the resolute bearing of one who was not to be
frowned down or daunted, and who cared very little for any
nobility but that of worth and manhood. It was perhaps some con-
sciousness on the part of each, of these feelings in the* other, that
infused a more stern expression into their regards as they came
'Your rapier, worthy sir!'
At the instant that he pronounced these words Graham started,
and falling back some paces, laid his hand upon the dagger in his
Y^ou are the man whose horse I used to hold before the Bowyer's
door? You are that man? Speak!'
'Out, you prentice hound!' said the other.
Y^ou are he! I know you well now! ' cried Graham. 'Let no man
step between us two, or I shall be his murderer.' With that he drew
his dagger, and rushed in upon him.
The stranger had drawn his weapon from the scabbard ready for
the scrutiny, before a word was spoken. He made a thrust at his
assailant, but the dagger which Graham clutched in his left hand
being the dirk in use at that time for parrying such blows, promptly
turned the point aside. They closed. The dagger fell rattling on
the ground, and Graham, wresting his adversary's sword from his
grasp, plunged it through his heart. As he drew it out it snapped
in two, leaving a fragment in the dead man's body.
All this passed so swiftly that the bystanders looked on without
an effort to interfere; but the man was no sooner down than an
uproar broke forth which rent the air. The attendant rushing
through the gate proclaimed that his master, a nobleman, had been
set upon and slain by a citizen; the word quickly spread from
mouth to mouth; Saint Paul's Cathedral, and every book-shop,
ordinary, and smoking-house in the churchyard poured out its
stream of cavaliers and their followers, who mingling together in
a dense tumultuous body, struggled sword in hand, towards the
With equal impetuosity, and stimulating each other by loud
cries and shouts, the citizens and common people took up the
quarrel on their side, and encircling ^Master Graham a hundred
deep, forced him from the gate. In vain he waved the broken sword
above his head, crying that he would die on London's threshold for
24 MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK
their sacred homes. They bore him on, and ever keeping him in the
midst, so that no man could attack him, fought their way into the