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fire, was altogether ruined; the foundations of the present building were laid in 1675, and the whole magnificent structure was completed under the direction of sir Christopher Wren, in thirty-five years, at an expense of a million and a half of money.
The black and white Corinthian marble columns of the choir, the episcopal throne, the bishop's seat, the seat of the lord mayor, and the dean's stall, are well worthy of regard; but other objects are now before me.
I have ascended the circular wooden staircase, and paid a visit to the library, the model room, the geometrical staircase, and the big bell; and now I am seated in the whispering gallery. The rattling thunder of the closing door has rolled around me, and at this moment, the whispers of the man at the entrance are announcing to me the altitude and dimensions of the cathedral.
The stone bench on which I sit is very cold. What an awful depth it is to the floor of the building, where the diminutive living figures are pacing the black and white marble stones! There! I have given one glance at the faded paintings above. Now, then, for the giddy height of the golden gallery.
LONDON, FROM THE CUPOLA OF ST. PAULS.
With a companion, I have ascended the stone staircase; we have groped our way, almost in the dark, up the wooden steps and platforms, within the dome, and at last, have emerged to light. We are now at the top of the cupola, with the ball and cross above us; and London is spread, like a carpet, beneath our feet. Rather a bold undertaking for an old man; but I have taken my time, and feel but little fatigued. What a blessing is a healthy frame and a hearty constitution!
There are some half-dozen persons in the gallery. Among them, are two Spaniards, with pale faces and dark mustachios, one of whom speaks a little English; and a little gentlemanly Frenchman of low stature, who, whether he can speak English or not, will not. The Spaniards are reserved, the Frenchman very communicative. The latter tells me that Paris, when seen from the Pantheon, or from Notre Dame, is larger than London; for that three parts of London are hid by the fog.
On a fine day, the view from this place must be truly grand, every part of the metropolis and the surrounding neighbourhood being so fully commanded. At the moment, it seems a complete chaos of brick, tile, slate, towers, spires, chimneypots, and smoke, with a fog in the distance that sadly circumscribes the view: by and by, when I begin to trace the streets, no doubt something like order will appear.
What a fearful height we are elevated from the earth! the Monument and the churches are but pigmies to this giant of a cathedral. The Lilliputian world below shrinks into insignificance; and not a voice reaches us from the distant multitude. While I look down upon the churchyard, the thought of falling there is horrible!
I have, aforetime, been within the ball above my head, and am not now sufficiently highminded to renew my visit. The strong, heavy ironrailing, placed here for security, is painted yellow, and a thousand names are etched or scratched thereupon, in celebration of the visit of those who from this place have gazed on London city. The bulging out of the huge cupola below my feet, impresses the mind with a sense of extent and ponderosity. It makes one reflect on the necessity of a firm foundation for such a colossal pile.
The statue of St Paul, there, on the west end of the cathedral, with its back towards us, has but a sorry appearance; and the same remark may be made of the other figures, for, seen from this point of view, they are nothing but shapeless blocks of stone, supported by unsightly iron bars, though their fronts are very beautiful. To put the best on the outside is a rule that is observed in many things beside sculpture and architecture.
Though the height of St. Paul's so much exceeds that of the Monument, the perpendicular view from the latter is, by far, more fearful than that from the two. The cupola and the church of St. Paul's prevent the eye from encountering, here, that dreadful depth which the gazer from the Monument. Still, as the eye travels down the dome, and suddenly plunges into the churchyard, the immeasurable gulf is sufficiently terrible. What a Tarpeian rock to be flung from headlong!
The continued rattle occasioned by the passing vehicles, and the varied sounds in thepublic streets, are all blended in one unceasing rumble by the time they ascend to this place. You scarcely hear any individual sound, unless it be the striking of a church clock. A man may be seen at work with his hammer, another may be smacking his whip, and a third sawing a piece of timber; but the sounds of the hammer, the whip, and the saw cannot be heard.
In the north part of the churchyard below, once stood St. Paul's Cross, a remarkable piece of antiquity. Here were the magistrates chosen, and every male of twelve years old and upwards, sworn to be true to the king and his heirs. When the old cross was destroyed, a new one was raised. At this cross, Jane Shore did penance; here, the first English Bible was publicly burned; and here, Cardinal Wolsey read the sentence against Martin Luther and his works.
The shop windows in St. Paul's churchyard look gay, ornamented as they are with glittering brass, but the large window panes are sadly diminished by the distance, and the names of their illustrious owners can scarcely be deciphered. There are five or six young men peeping in at the music shop, and two ladies in white have this moment stopped at the milliner's window. The varied articles that are exposed for sale, appear all mingled together. The broad slated roofs, of what used to be Newgate Market, are very conspicuous, while the narrow strip of a street called Paternoster-row can scarcely be traced with the eye.
There is the Post Office, with its portico and Doric pillars: as seen from the ground it is a noble edifice; but this altitude is a sad revealer of secrets. We here perceive that the outside is of stone, and the inside of brick. I might enter on a description of the building, its exterior form,