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We again resumed our journey, and passing Foot's Cray, the last stage, a retired spot, we reach Eltham, a neat village in the vicinity of Shooter's Hill. Its church contains the remains of the amiable Dr. George Horne, who died, 1791, a few weeks after his elevation to the see of Norwich. His Commentary on the Psalms, together with his Sermons, have proved an acceptable present to the Christian world. His Female Character, drawn in one of his Discourses, has been much admired. Indeed he has paid a just tribute of praise to that sex, whose mild and unobtrusive virtues contribute essentially to the happiness of mankind.
We quickly after entered Deptford, which has been already described ; and driving through St. George's Fields, across Blackfriar's Bridge, we presently alighted at Islington, gratified with our journey :
ETERNAL POWER ! from whom all blessings flow,
493 Islington is one of the pleasantest villages in the vicinity of London. In ancient records the name is written Isendune, signifying in the Saxon language, the Hill of Iron, probably from the circumstance that here are springs of water impregnated with that mineral. It is situated about a mile from London, on the road to Barnet, which leads to the northern parts of the kingdom. It is divided into seven liberties, named from the manors in which they are situated, viz. Lower St. John of Jerusalem, Lower Barnsbury, Upper Barnsbury, Upper St. John of Jerusalem, Highbury or Newington Barrow, Canonbury, and the Prebend Liberty. The parish of Islington is three miles in length and two in breadth, containing about 3000 acres of land, most of which is pasture and meadow, with a few acres of nursery grounds.* The land is principally occupied by cow-keepersy so that milk may be denominated the staple commodity of the place. In the year 1575, before Queen Elizabeth, at Kenilworth Castle, a Squire Minstrel of Middlesex made a speech respecting the dairies of Islington,- I take the following diverting extract :-“ The worshipful village of Islington well knooen too bee one of the most ancient'and best tounz in England next to London at thiz day, did obteyn long agoo these worshipful armez in coaler and foorm as yee see, which are a field argent, as the field and ground whearin the
* See Lysons' Environs of London, the ingenious Mr. Nichols's Canonbury, and Mr. J. Nelson's copious and entertaining History of Islington, embellished with some well executed engravings.
ISLINGTON. milk-wives of this worthy tooun doo trade for their living.” The minstrel then having described these arms, adds, “ In the skro, under-graven, iz thear a proper word well squaring with al the rest taken out of Salern’s Chapter of Things, that most noorish a man's body, Lac, Caseus infans, that is, good milk and young cheez. And thus mooch and pleaz you,” quoth he, “ for the armz of our worshipful tooun, thearwithall made a mannerly leg, and so held his peas.” While this extract shews the manners of the times, it proves that even upwards of two hundred years ago, milk was the far-famed commodity of Islington.
History also informs us, that when the unfor. tunate Henry VI. was brought a prisoner to London, he was met at Eyseldon (Islington), by the Earl of Warwick, who arrested him there in the name of King Edward IV. and caused his gilt spurs to be taken from his feet! Nor should we omit to notice, that four unhappy persons were, in September, 1557, burnt in one fire at Islington. Alas! that so many victims should have perished at the ensanguined shrine of bigotry.
ISLINGTON is divided into two streets, Upper and Lower, the former leading to Barnet, the latter to Kingsland. In the Upper Street stands the Church, a light and elegant structure, with an adjoining cemetery of considerable extent. It is dedicated to St. Mary. The first stone was laid by Sir James Colebrooke, in 1751, and it was opened in 1754. It is a brick building, consisting of a nave,
495 chancel, and two aisles. At the west end is a stone spire of beautiful construction. In the year 1787, this church underwent a thorough repair ; and some alterations being necessary in the vane, Mr. Birch, an ingenious basket-maker, enclosed the spire in a case of wicker-work, forming with it a stair-case, which afforded a safe and easy passage to the top ! The price of admission was sixpence, and considerable profits were obtained by this singular exhibition. A print was taken of the church at this very time; its appearance gratifies curiosity. To this circumstance the poet alludes :
That oft-seen airy spire so trim of late
Beneath the Church were to be seen, by every person passing through the church-yard, a vast number of coffins heaped upon one another, presenting to the eye a spectacle calculated to correct our vanity. Such a sight, however, was unpleasant; and gentlemen (to whom the parish is much indebted for their vigilance and activity), have taken care to have the windows closed, so that for the future the inhabitants will not have to complain of a practice by which their feelings must have been violated. The earth is the fittest receptacle for the dead. Those fine expressions of the burialservice-Ashes to Ashes-Dust to Dust-are (whatever pride may suggest to the contrary) not only indicative of our humble origin, but best adapted to the actual condition of frail humanity.
The old church was of Gothic architecture, and
had the date of 1483 on the tower. It was in a ruinous state; but gunpowder was obliged to be used to separate the masses, so strongly was it cemented together.
Among several monuments with which the interior of the church is decorated, that of Dr. William Cave is entitled to attention. The inscription, in Latin, is elegant and impressive;—the conclusion struck me :-“Quisque es, viator, homo cum sis, ossa nostra ne violes; depositi cineres quiescant in pace: abi mortalitatis memor, ne te incautum rapiat suprema dies !” There is a certain significant brevity in the Latin tongue that I scarcely dare venture a translation. To the young, however, its general meaning will be acceptable: -“Stranger, whoever thou art, being a man, do no violence to my remains ; let the ashes of the deceased rest in peace : departo--mindful of thy mortality; nor let death snatch thee away unprepared!” Dr. Cave was born in 1637, and died in 1713, having been vicar of this parish for several years. He was the author of many valuable works, written in the defence and for the illustration of Christianity. The Rev. Dr. John Strahan, who published Dr. Johnson's Meditations, is the present vicar of Islington; and its lecturer the Rev. Dr. Gaskin, who is secretary to the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. Dr. Johnson often visited the Vicar, and used to frequent the weekly prayers in the church; where a female friend the other day assured me that when a young woman she had often seen him there wrapped