Being the last section of the PERCY SOCIETY "Early English Poetry, Ballads and Popular Literature. Vol IX"
At the present season of the year, it may
not be deemed inappropiate to present the
Members of the Percy Society with a Frostie
Garland in the shape of a collection of ballads, illustrating the great frost of 1683-4,
and the fair held on the river Thames.
My attention was first called to the subject by the scattered notices contained in the "Chronicles of London Bridge",-a work abounding in curious information and re search, and to the anonymous author of which I have to express my obligations for the assistance it has given me in drawing up the accompanying sketch.
The originals of the following ballads are chiefly preserved in the Ashmolean and British Museums, and are all I have been enabled to discover connected with the British Carnival of 1683-4.
To Mr. Fillinham and Mr. Upcott I must express my thanks for their kindness in allowing me to consult their unrivalled collections of rarities, and for the liberal permission to transcribe any thing that suited my purpose.
Grosvenor Cottage, Park Village, Regent's Park, January 29.
ONE of the earliest instances on record of a severe
frost, by which the river Thames was frozen over,
occurred in the year 1092, the sixth of the reign
of William Rufus.
William of Malmesbury, and Roger de Hovedon, both notice this event; and the latter informs us*
* Annales, printed in the "Scriptores post Bedam," p.464.
that "the great streams were congealed in such a manner, that they could draw two hundred horsemen and carriages over them; whilst, at their thawing, many bridges both of wood and stone, were borne down, and divers water-mills were broken up and carried away."
The river was again frozen in 1281, and Stow
* Annals, edited by Howes, Lond. 1631, folio, p.201.
that "from Christmas till the Purification of Our Lady, there was such a frost and snow, as no man living could remember the like.
Where through five arches of London-bridge, and all Rochester-bridge, were borne downe, and carried away with the streame; and the like hapned to many bridges in England.
And not long after, men passed over the Thames betweene Westminster and Lambeth, and likewise over the river of Medway, betweene Stroude and Rochester, dry shod."
The year 1564 was remarkable for its severity;
and the Thames was frozen from London to Westminster-bridge.
Stow, in his " Annals", and Hollinshed, in his "Chronicle", both mention it, and give some interesting particulars.
The latter states that the frost continued to such an extremity, that on New Year's eve, "people went over and alongst the Thames on the ise, from London bridge to Westminster.
Some plaied at the foot ball as boldlie there, as if it had beene on the drie land; divers of the court being then at Westminster, shot dailie at prickes set upon the Thames; and the people, both men and women, went on the Thames in greater numbers than in anie street of the citie of London.
On the third daie of January, at night, it began to thaw, and on the fift there was no ise to be seene betweene London bridge and Lambeth, which sudden thaw caused great floods, and high waters, that bare downe bridges and houses, and drowned manie people in England, especiallie in Yorkshire.
Owes-bridge was borne awaie, with others."
The next important frost was that of the year
1608, when a variety of booths were erected on
the Thames, and the frozen river assumed all the
appearance of a regular fair.
Edmond Howes *
* "Continuation of the Abridgement of Stow's English Chronicle", 1611, p.481.
has given us the following curious account:-
"The 8th of December began a hard frost, and continued untill the 15th of the same, and then thawed; the 22nd of December it began againe to freeze violently, so as divers persons went halfe way over the Thames upon the ice: and the 30th of December, at every ebbe, many people went quite over the Thames in divers places, and so continued from that day untill the 3rd of January; the people passed daily betweene London and the Bankside at every halfe ebbe, for the floud removed the ice, and forced the people daily to tread new paths, except onely betweene Lambeth and the ferry at Westminster, the which, by incessant treading, became very firm, and free passage, untill the great thaw: and from Sunday, the tenth of January, untill the fifteenth of the same, the frost grew so extreme, as the ice became firme, and removed not, and then all sorts of men, women, and children, went boldly upon the ice in most parts; some shot at prickes, others bowled and danced, with other variable pastimes; by reason of which concourse of people there were many that set up boothes and standings upon the ice, as fruit-sellers, victuallers, that sold beere and wine, shoemakers, and a barber's tent, &c."
He adds, that all these had fires; that the frost killed all the artichokes in the gardens about London; and that the ice lasted until the afternoon of the 2nd of February, when "it was quite dissolved, and clean gon."
There is a very rare tract, containing an account of this frost, among the books bequeathed by Gough to the Bodleian Library, which has a wood-cut representation of it, with London Bridge in the distance, and is entitled, "Cold Doings in London, except it be at the Lottery, with Newes out of the Country.
A familliar talk between a Countryman and a Citizen, touching this terrible Frost, and the Great Lottery, and the effect of them."
London, 1608, quarto.
The famous frost, to which the following ballads relate, overspread the Thames from the
beginning of December 1683, until the 5th of
"It congealed the river Thames", says Maitland *,
* "History of London", vol.i. p.484.
"to that degree, that another city, as it were, was erected thereon; where, by the great number of streets and shops, with their rich furniture, it represented a great fair, with a variety of carriages, and diversions of all sorts; and near Whitehall a whole ox was roasted on the ice."
Evelyn, however, who was an eye-witness of this scene, furnishes the most extraordinary account of it in his Diary", where, on January the 24th, 1684, he observes, that "the frost continuing more and more severe, the Thames, before London, was still planted with boothes in formal streetes, all sorts of trades and shops furnish'd, and full of commodities, even to a printing-presse, where the people and ladyes tooke a fancy to have their names printed, and the day and yeare set down when printed on the Thames: this humour tooke so universally, that 'twas estimated the printer gain'd £5 a day, for printing a line onely, at sixpence a name, besides what he got by ballads, &c.
Coaches plied from Westminster to the Temple, and from several other staires, to and fro, as in the streetes; sleds, sliding with skeetes, a bull-baiting, horse and coach races, puppet-plays, and interludes, cookes, tipling, and other lewd places, so that it seem'd to be a bacchanalian triumph, or carnival on the water."
This traffic and festivity were continued until February the 5th, when he states that "it began to thaw, but froze again.
My coach crossed from Lambeth to the horse-ferry, at Millbank, Westminster.
The boothes were almost all taken downe, but there was first a map, or landskip, cut in copper, representing all the manner of the camp, and the several actions, sports, and pastimes thereon, in memory of so signal a frost."
The principal scene of Blanket Fair - for so it was denominated - was opposite to the Temple stairs; for few or none of the festivities approached very near to London Bridge, as we are informed by the many rude but curious memorials of it which are yet in existence.
One of the
most interesting of these, is an original and spirited sketch, on stout and coarse paper, in pencil,
slightly shaded with Indian ink; which was the
well-known style of an artist of the seventeenth
century, peculiarly eminent for his views, namely,
Thomas Wyck, - usually called Old Wyck, to distinguish him from his son John, - who spent the
greater part of his life in England.
This sketch is preserved in the eighth volume of Mr. Crowle's illustrated Pennant, in the British Museum.
The time when the view was taken, was the day previous to the first thaw, as the original is dated in a contemporaneous hand, at the top, in the right hand corner, "Munday, February the 4th, 1683-4."
The drawing consists of a view down the river, from Temple-stairs to London-bridge, the buildings of which are faintly seen in the background.
In front appear various groups of figures, and a side prospect of the double line of tents which extended across the centre of the river, called at the time Temple-street, consisting of taverns, toy shops, &c. which were generally distinguished by some title or sign; as the Duke of York's Coffee house, the Tory-booth, "the booth with a phenix on it, and insured to last as long as the foundation stands", the Half-way house, the Bear Garden shirebooth, the Roast-beef booth, the Music booth, the Printing booth, the Lottery booth, and the Horn Tavern booth, which is indicated about the centre of the view by the antlers of a stag raised above it.
The gardens of the Temple are seen filled with spectators witnessing the various sports on the ice, and the view takes in the whole line of the Bankside to St. Saviour's Church, with the Tower, the Monument, finished in 1677, the Windmill near Queenhythe, the new Bow Church, and some others of the new churches, and the vacant site and ruins of Bridewell Palace.
The "map or landskip" mentioned by Evelyn is entitled "An
exact and lively Mapp or Representation of
Boothes, and all the Varieties of Showes and
Humours upon the Ice, on the River of Thames by
London, during that memorable Frost in the 35th
yeare of the Reigne of his Sacred Majesty King
Charles the Second. Anno Dni. MDCLXXXIII.
With an Alphabetical Explanation of the most remarkable figures."
It consists of a whole-sheet copper-plate engraving, with a view extending from the Temple-stairs and Bankside to London-bridge.
In an oval cartouche at the top within the frame of the print, is the title; and below the frame are the alphabetical references, with the words, "Printed and sold by William Warter, Stationer, at the signe of the Talbott, under the Mitre Tavern in Fleete street, London."
In the foreground of this representation of Frost Fair appear extensive circles of spectators surrounding a bull-baiting, and the rapid revolution of a whirling-chair or car, drawn by several men, by a long rope fastened to a stake fixed in the ice.
Large boats, covered with tilts, capable of containing a considerable number of passengers, and decorated with flags and streamers, are represented as being used for sledges, some being drawn by horses, and others by watermen, lacking their usual employment.
Another sort of boat was mounted on wheels; and one vessel, called "the drum boat", was distinguished by a drummer placed at the prow.
The pastimes of throwing at a cock, sliding and skating, roasting an ox, football, skittles, pigeon-holes, cups and balls, &c. are represented as being carried on in various parts of the river; whilst a sliding-hutch, propelled by a stick; a chariot, moved by a screw; and stately coaches filled with visitors, appear to be rapidly moving in various directions; and sledges with coals and wood are passing between the London and Southwark shores.
An impression of this plate will be found in the Royal Collection of Topographical Prints and Drawings, given by King George the Fourth to the British Museum, vol.xxvii. art.39.
There is also a variation of the same engraving in the City Library at Guildhall, divided with common ink into compartments, as if intended to be used as cards, and numbered in the margin, in type with Roman numerals, in three sets of ten each, with two extra.
The diversions on the ice attracted the attention of the nobility, and King Charles the Second is said to have taken part in them more than once.
Mr. Upcott is in possession of one of the very papers on which the king and his royal companions had their names printed.
This interesting document, formerly in the collection of the celebrated John Evelyn, consists of a quarter sheet of coarse Dutch paper, on which, within a type border, measuring 3¼ inches by 4, are the names of
Here, then, we have King Charles the Second;
his brother James, Duke of York, afterwards
James the Second; Queen Catherine, Infanta of
Portugal; Mary D'Este, sister of Francis, Duke
of Modena, James's second duchess; the Princess
Anne, second daughter of the Duke of York,
afterwards Queen Anne; and her husband, Prince
George of Denmark: and the last name, which is
supposed to be a touch of the king's humour, signifies "Jack in the Cellar", alluding to the pregnant situation of Anne of Denmark.
The same collection boasts a similar paper, containing the names of "Henry, Earl of Clarendon", son of the Chancellor: "Flora, Countess of Clarendon", and "Edward, Lord Cornbury."
The date of this is February 2nd.
The following is a list of other publications illustrative of this frost.
A large copper-plate, entitled, "A Map of the River Thames,
merrily call'd Blanket Fair, as it was frozen in the
memorable year 1683-4, describing the booths, footpaths,
coaches, sledges, bull-baiting, and other remarks upon
that famous river."
Dedicated to Sir Henry Hulse, Knt. and Lord Mayor, by James Moxon, the engraver.
"A wonderfull Fair, or a Fair of Wonders; being a new and true illustration and description of the several things acted and done on the river of Thames in the time of the terrible frost, which began about the beginning of Dec. 1683, and continued till Feb. 4, and held on with such violence, that men and beasts, coaches and sledges, went common thereon.
There was also a street of booths from the Temple to Southwark, where was sold all sorts of goods; likewise bull-baiting and an ox roasted whole, and many other things, as the map and description do plainly show."
Engraved and printed on a sheet, 1684.
A small copper-plate representation of Frost Fair, with the figure of Erra Pater in the foreground.
At the top, are the words, "Erra Pater's Prophesy, or Frost Faire in 1683", and underneath, the following lines:
Old Erra Pater, or his rambling ghost,
Prognosticating of this long strong frost,
Some ages past, said yt ye ice bound Thames,
Shou'd prove a theatre for sports and games;
Her watry green be turn'd into a bare,
For men a citty seem, for booths a faire;
And now the stragling sprite is once more com
To visit mortalls and foretel their doom.
When maids grow modest, ye dissenting crew
Become all loyal, the falsehearted true,
Then you may probably, and not till then,
Expect in England such a frost agen.
Printed for James Norris, at the King's Armes without Temple Barr.
The Thames was again frozen over at intervals,
in the year 1709, and persons are said to have
crossed it on the ice; yet the frost was neither so
intense, nor so permanent, as to cause another fair;
though, in the Illustrated Pennant in the British
Museum, there is an impression of a coarse bill,
within a woodcut border of rural subjects, con
taining the words, "Mr. John Heaton, Printed on
the Thames, at Westminster, Jan.
the 7th, 1709.
The Arte and Mystery of Printing, first invent ed by John Guttemberg, in Harlem, in 1440, and brought into England by John Islip."
About the end of November, 1715, however, a very severe frost commenced, which continued until the 9th of the following February, when the sports of 1683 were all renewed.
Mrs Mary Coates
Printed at Holme's and Broad's Booth,
at the of Sign of the Ship, against Old Swan-Stairs,
where is the Only Real Printing-Press, on the Frozen Thames,
January the 14th, 1715-6.
Where little Wherries once did use to ride,
And mounting Billows dashed against their Side,
Now Booths and Tents are built, whose inward Treasure
Affords to many a one Delight and Pleasure;
Wine, Beer, Cakes, hot Custards, Beef and pies
Upon the Thames are sold; there, on the Ice
You may have any Thing to please the Sight,
Your Names are Printed, tho' you cannot Write;
Therefore pray lose no Time, but hasten hither,
To drink a Glass with Broad and Holmer together.
In the Illustrated
Pennant, before alluded to, are several curious
memorials, of which the following is a list.
A copper-plate, representing a view of London from the opposite shore, with London Bridge on the right hand, and a line of tents on the left, leading from Temple Stairs.
In front, another line of tents, marked "Thames Street", and the various sports, &c. before them: below the print are alphabetical references, with the words "Printed on the Thames, 1715-16"; and above it, "Frost Fair on the River Thames."
A copper-plate of much larger dimensions, representing London at St. Paul's, with the tents, &c. and with alphabetical references; "Printed and sold by John Bowles, at the Black Horse, in Cornhill.
" In the right-hand corner above, the arms and supporters of the city; and on the left a cartouche, with the words "Frost Fayre, being a True Prospect of the Great Varietie of Shops and Booths for Tradesmen, with other Curiosities and Hu mors, on the Frozen River of Thames, as it appeared before the City of London, in that memorable Frost in ye year of the Reigne of Our Sovereigue Lord King George, Anno Domini 1716."
"An exact and lively View of the Booths, and all the variety of Shows, &c.
on the ice, with an alphabetical explanation of the most remarkable figures, 1716."
A copper plate: "Frost Fair; or a View of the Booths on the Frozen Thames in the 2nd year of King George, 1716."
On Wednesday, the 26th of December, 1739-40,
commenced another frost, the most severe which
had occurred since 1716.
The Thames, as we are told in the "Gentleman's Magazine" of 1740, floated with rocks and shoals of ice; and when they fixed, represented a snowy field, everywhere rising in masses and hills of ice and snow.
Of this scene several artists made sketches; whilst tents and printing-presses were erected, and a complete Frost Fair was again held upon the river, over which multitudes walked, though some lost their lives by their rashness.
In Woodfall's "General Advertiser" for Monday, December the 31st, 1739, we are informed that "all the watermen above the bridge have hauled their boats on shore, the Thames being very nigh frozen over"; and in the same paper for Wednesday, January 2nd, 1739-40, it is observed that "several vintners in the Strand bought a large ox in Smithfield on Monday last, which is to be roasted whole on the ice on the river of Thames, if the frost continues.
Mr. Hodgeson, a butcher in St. James's Market, claims the privilege of selling or knocking down the beast, as a right inherent in his family, his father having knocked down the ox roasted on the river in the great frost, 1684, as himself did that roasted in 1715, near Hungerford Stairs.
The beast is to be fixt to a stake in the open market, and Mr. Hodgeson comes dress'd in a rich lac'd cambric apron, a silver steel, and a hat and feathers, to perform the office."
The "Daily Post" of Tuesday, January the 22nd, 1740, thus notices the first breaking-up of this famous frost: "yesterday morning the inhabitants of the west prospect of the bridge were presented with a very odd scene, for on the open ing of their windows, there appear'd underneath, on the river, a parcel of booths, shops, and huts, of different forms, and without any inhabitants, which, it seems, by the swell of the waters, and the ice separating, had been brought down from above.
As no lives were lost, it might be view'd without horror.
Here stood a booth with trinkets, there a hut with a dram of old gold; in another place a skittle-frame and pins, and in a fourth ‘The Noble Art and Mystery of Printing, by a servant to one of the greatest trading com panies in Europe."
With much difficulty, last night, they had removed the most valuable effects."
A few of the most interesting memorials of this
fair are as follows:-
A copper-plate, representing a View of the Thames at West minster, with the tents, sports, &c. and alphabetical references, entitled "Ice Fair."
Printed on ye River Thames, now frozen over. Jan. 31, 1739-40.
Amidst ye arts yt on ye Thames appear,
To tell ye wonders of this frozen year,
Sculpture claims prior place, since yt alone
Preserves ye image when ye prospect's gone.
A coarse copper-plate, entitled "The view of Frost Fair", -
scene taken from York-buildings Water Works; twelve
A small copper-plate, representing an altar-piece with the ten commandments, engraven between the figures of Moses and Aaron; and beneath, on a cartouche, "Printed on the Ice, on the River of Thames, Janry 15, 1739."
A small copper-plate, representing an ornamental border with a female head, crowned, at the top; and below two designs of the letter press and rolling press.
In the centre, in type, "Upon the Frost in the year 1739-40;" six verses, and then, "Mr. John Cross, aged 6.
Printed on the ice upon the Thames, at Queen-Hithe, January the 29th, 1739-40."
Behold the liquid Thames now frozen o'er,
That lately ships of mighty burden bore;
Here you may print your name, 'tho cannot write,
'Cause numb'd with cold; 'tis done with great delight
And lay it by, that ages yet to come,
May see what things upon the ice were done.
A coarse copper-plate engraving, looking down the river,
entitled "Frost Fair," with eight lines of verse beneath;
"Printed upon the River Thames when frozen, Janu, the 28, 1739-40."
"An Exact Draught of Frost Fair on the River Thames, as it appears from White Hall Stairs, in the year 1740", with twelve lines of verse underneath.
"Printed and sold by Geoe Foster, Printseller, in St. Paul's Churchyard, London.
"The English Chronicle, or Frosty Kalender;" a broadside containing a memorial of the principal frosts, with a view of the fair from the Southwark side of the river, opposite St. Paul's.
"Printed on the Thames, 1739-40."
Severe frosts occurred in the years 1768 and 1785, and the Thames was partially frozen, but it does not appear that any particular festivities took place.
The year 1789, however, again afforded the public an opportunity of beguiling its
severity by a renewal of their favourite sports
upon the frozen river.
The "Public Advertiser" of Friday, January 9th, 1789, states, that on the day preceding "several purl-booths were erected, and many thousands of persons crossed upon the ice from Tower-wharf to the opposite shore."
"No sooner", says the "London Chronicle" from Saturday, January 10th, to Tuesday, January 13th, p.48, "had the Thames acquired a sufficient consistency, than booths, turn-abouts, &c. &c. were erected; the puppet-shows, wild beasts, &c., were transported from every adjacent village; whilst the watermen, that they might draw their usual resources from the water, broke in the ice close to the shore, and erected bridges, with toll bars, to make every passenger pay a halfpenny for getting to the ice.
One of the suttling booths has for its sign "Beere, Wine, and Spirituous Liquors without a License!"
A man who sells hot gingerbread, has a board on which is written "no shop tax, nor window duty".
All the adventurers contend in these short sentences for the preference of the company, and the Thames is in general crowded."
The "Public Advertiser" of Thursday, January 15th, has the following piece of drollery, in the shape of an inscription on a temporary building on the Thames: "This Booth to Let.
The present possessor of the Premises is Mr. Frost.
His affairs, however, not being on a permanent footing, a dissolution, or bankruptcy may soon be expected, and the final settlement of the whole entrusted to Mr. Thaw."
On Wednesday, January 7th, a large pig was roasted on one of the principal roads; and on Monday, the 12th, a young bear was hunted on the ice, near Rotherhithe.
As usual, too, a printing-press was erected near the same spot, of which there is a curious memorial preserved in Mr.Crowle's "Illustrated Pennant", consisting of a bill, having a border of type flowers, containing the following verses; afterwards altered and adapted in the frost of 1814:-
The silver Thames was frozen o'er,
No diff'rence twixt the stream and shore;
The like no man hath seen before,
Except he liv'd in days of yore.
On the Ice, at the Thames Printing-Office, opposite
St. Catherine's Stairs, in the severe Frost, January,
Printed by me, William Bailey.
The same collection also contains a stippled engraving, entitled, "A View of the Thames from Rotherhithe Stairs, during the frost in 1789.
Painted by G.Samuel, and engraved by W.Birch, enamel painter."
"Perhaps", says the "London Chronicle",
January 15th, "the breaking up of the fair upon
the Thames last Tuesday night below bridge, exceeded every idea that could be formed of it, as
it was not until after the dusk of the evening that
the busy crowd was persuaded of the approach of
This, however, with the cracking of some ice about eight o'clock, made the whole a scene of the most perfect confusion; as men, beasts, booths, turn-abouts, puppet-shows, &c. &c. were all in motion, and pouring towards the shore on each side.
The confluence here was so sudden and impetuous, that the watermen who had formed the toll-bars over the sides of the river, where they had broken the ice for that purpose, not being able to maintain their standard from the crowd, &c., pulled up the boards, by which a number of persons who could not leap, or were borne down by the press, were soused up to the middle."
The succeeding number of this paper mentions that on Thursday, January 15th, the ice was so powerful as to cut the cables of two vessels lying at the Old Rose Chain, and drive them through the great arch of London-bridge; when their masts becoming entangled with the balustrades, both were broken, and many persons hurt.
The Thames continued to be partly frozen for some time after this.
The last fair held on the river Thames, was in
the beginning of the year 1814.
The frost commenced on the 27th of December previous, and was followed by heavier falls of snow than any within the memory of man.
During nearly four weeks frost, the wind blew, with little intermission, from the north and north-east, and the cold was intense.
The very severe weather that has visited this kingdom, has been productive of the greatest distress to the labouring poor.
The following are some of the many cases that have come to our knowledge.
Mr. Blackmore, of Rook's nest, near Wiveliscombe, dispatched a man servant and a youth 18 year old, to go to a farm about five miles distant, to look at some sheep.
They had proceeded about three miles, when the youth complained of being tired; his companion then took him on his back - and carried him nearly half a mile, when, finding himself fatigued, he put him down, and gave him some gin, but almost immediately after drinking which, the youth expired.
The poor man took his dead companion on his back, but night coming on, and being nearly exhausted, he lay down under a hedge, under which he deposited the corpse, and laid himself by it till next morning; he arrived nearly frozen to death, next day at Withel Church.
A man of decent appearance was found dead on Castle Nerechie Hill, on Sunday last, a victim to the inclemency of the weather.
As the Leeds coach was passing, on Tuesday morning, near Ferrybridge, it met with a cart, with a man sitting in it, in an upright posture, with the rein hanging loose in his hand.
The coachman having called to him several times without receiving any answer, alighted, and on examining the man, was shocked to find him frozen to death.
On Thursday morning, a Mr. Amos, found a poor man lying in a ditch, in Hormeriod fields, dead and stiff.
Two children going from Langport to Bristol, on a waggon, were found frozen to death.
Two apprentices boys, at Ashburton, who went to look after some cattle, were lost in the show.
A poor wretch, named Hatchett, died during the inclement season, in Stewart's rents, Drury lane.
A poor old couple, died in Round court, from the same cause.
A poor had who had a favorite monkey, by whose tricks he obtained a precarious livelihood, were both frozen to death.
Thomas, Printer, 6, Denmark Court, Exeter-Court, Strand.
On Sunday, January 30th, some persons
ventured to walk over the Thames at different
parts; and on Tuesday, February 1st, the usual
entries were formed by the unemployed watermen,
particularly between Blackfriars-bridge and Three
Cranes Wharf, notices being written against the
streets leading to them, announcing a safe footing
over the river, by the toll, on which many of them
received six pounds per day.
"The standing amusements of an English Frost Fair", remarks the writer of the "Chronicles of London Bridge", now commenced, and many cheerfully paid to see and partake of that upon the frozen Thames, which, at any other time, they would not have deigned to look upon.
Besides the roughly-formed paths paved with ashes, leading from shore to shore, there was a street of tents called the "City Road", in which gay flags, inviting signs, music, and dancing, evinced what excellent entertainment was to befound there.
That ancient wonder peculiar to the place, the roasting of a small sheep over a fire, was exhibited to many a sixpenny audience, whilst the provision itself, under the name of "Lapland Mutton", sold for one shilling a slice.
The erection of printing-presses was of course not forgotten, and numerous were the scraps of "old verse and new prose" distributed upon the occasion.
As we have given specimens of the ancient Thames printing, let us not pass over this last great frost, without gleaning some of its memorials.
You that walk here, and do design to tell
Your children's children what this year befell,
Come buy this print, and then it will be seen
That such a year as this hath seldom been.
One of the handbills ran thus:-
"Friends! now is your time to support the freedom of the press! Can the press have greater liberty? Here you find it working in the middle of the Thames; and if you encourage us by buying our impressions, we will keep it going, in the true spirit of liberty, during the frost."
Another hand-bill (probably one of the last printed on the river), was as follows:-
"To Madam Tabitha Thaw.
"Dear dissolving Dame,
"Father Frost and Sister Snow have bonyed my borders, formd an idol of ice on my bosom, and all the Lads of London come to make merry: now, as you love mischief, treat the multitude with a few cracks by a sudden visit, and obtain the prayers of the poor upon both banks.
Given at my own press, the 5th Feb. 1814. THOMAS THAMES."
On the evening of Saturday, February 5th,
the fair was visited by rain and a sudden thaw,
when the ice cracked and floated in several places.
On the following day, about 2 o'clock, the tide began to flow with great rapidity, the immense masses of ice were broken up in all directions, and the river was covered with wrecks.
Thus in a very short space of time, the returning industry of man, and the rushing current, removed every vestige of the last Frost-Fair.
A VIEW OF FROST FAIR AS IT APPEARED ON THE ICE ON THE RIVER THAMES
Feb 3rd 1814
All you that are curious downright,|
And fond of seeing every sight,
If to the Thames you had repaird
You might have seen a famous fair.
Diversions of every kind you'd see,
With parties drinking of coffee, and tea,
And dancing too I do declare,
Upon the Thames they call Frost Fair.
It was really curious for to see,|
Both old and young, so full of glee,
The drinking booths they enter in,
And call'd away for purl and Gin.
Some play'd at threadle my needle Nan,
The lasses slipt down as they ran,
Which made the men qute full of glee,
The young girls legs all for to see.
The Watermen so neat and trim|
With bottle filled with Old Toms Gin
And other bawl'd among the throng,
Who's for a glass of Sampson strong?
Heres nuts and gingerbread. Who buys?
Come boys and win my mutton pies
Come ladies they're both hot and nice,
Fear not to eat one on the ice.
Boys, men and women not a few,|
Upon the ice they ventured too,
And sayings there were I do declare
To take a ride up in the air.
And booths wherein you might regale;
And have a pint of beer or ale,
And skittle playing I do declare,
Upon the Thames they call Frost Fair.
Now to conclude my Icy song,|
I'm glad to see the frost is gone,
And ships and barges all afloat
And watermen rowing of their boats,
Black diamond barges to appear,
That coals they may not be so dear
So toss a bumper off with cheer,
And bid adieu to Frosty Fair.
In this hard frost the River Thames|
from London Bridge to Blackfriar Bridge
was choked up with Ice and snow,
so as to form one solid sheet
and various trades, pastimes and sports,
where carried on it.
FROST FAIR ON THE THAMES
Those who remember what has been, not at all improperly, called
an "old-fashioned winter", will hardly give the name of winter at all to the state of the atmosphere and the elements by which the heat and cold of the
last four months have been regulated; indeed, if it were not for the shortness of the days, the occasional visitations
of the fogs, and the mud by which the streets and the passengers are defiled, and for a few hours here and there of what is now called
frost, the inhabitants of London would feel but little difference between July and January; and, with the exception of harvesting and
haymaking, things which require a certain portion of sunshine, the rural population of the kingdom might carry on their agricultural pursuits
almost as well at Christmas as at Midsummer, without any
reference to the diversity of their labours requiring a diversity of seasons for their perfection.
But our ancestors were acquainted with another state of things, and they who lived in the year 1814 have experienced some difference of temperature between summer and winter.
It was in the winter of 1813-14 that Europe experienced, and England, in particular, a specimen of what the Genius of Frost was capable of doing when he went about his work in earnest.
It was in this eventful winter that Napoleon retreated from Moscow, amidst the horrors of cold, desolation, and famine; and it was in the winter of this year that Winter, "canos hirsuta capillos", shook the icicles from his beard over the inhabitants of London, and took old Father Thames into custody.
In other words, it was in the winter of 1814 that the Thames, as represented in the above plate, was so completely frozen over, that what has been very appropriately called "Frost Fair" was celebrated on its surface.
The frost set in with a cold, piercing easterly wind, on the 27th December, 1813, and lasted, with little intermission of its intensity, until the 5th of February following.
So hard was the surface of the river for several weeks, and so thick the ice, that a long road, or rather street, which was called the City-road, was formed from Blackfriars' bridge to old London bridge (there was in those days no Southwark bridge to intercept the view of the whole space of the river lying between the above-mentioned termini).
On each side of this long street were booths of all descriptions; dancing, eating, drinking, smoking, &c. were going on without intermission all day and all night.
There were printing-presses, inter alia; and songs, poems, and descriptions setting forth the triumphs of "Frost" were printed and eagerly bought up by the multitudes who thronged to see the wonders.
Gambling booths, shows, and so forth were in abundance; in short, the whole river represented an immense Saturnalia, an enormous Bartholomew fair.
There were fires blazing, sausages frying, fiddlers tuning, horns blowing, and groups of dancers in incessant employment and requisition; such a scene had not been witnessed since the year 1788, when something of the same sort took place, but on a smaller scale and for a shorter time.
In 1683-4 the frost fair described by Evelyn was held on the Thames, and from the description given by that amusing chronicler it must have been the very counterpart of the fair in 1813-14.
What is a singular coincidence the thaw on that occasion took place on the very same day in 1684 as the thaw in 1814.
There was a similar sort of fair on the Thames in 1715-16, but the cold was not so intense.
Those who remember the frost in 1814 will congratulate themselves on the change which has taken place in the climate of England within the last few years.
A frost fair is a very pleasant thing to read about, and a very agreeable thing to remember - "Olim meminisse juvabit" - but when Father Frost takes Father Thames by the nose, it is quite time for poor mortals to get out of the way and congratulate themselves for being exempted from a visit of this mighty and unrelenting potentate.
Skaters might have complained of this absence of frost some few years ago, because in those days the ingenuity of the inventors of the artificial ice had not discovered itself, and helped the public to an agreeable amusement exempt from a very disagreeable concomitant.
In other words there was not till within the last year a "Glaciarium", of which a view is given below, upon which the most delicate young lady or old gentleman, addicted to skating, could cut figures of eight, spread eagles, and such like devices, without the fear of being frostnipt, or destroyed in the bud.
But now this pleasant pastime may be carried on at the Baker-street, Bazaar, whatever-may be the state of the weather.
Art has supplied the forgetfulness of nature, and there the skaters can, and in fact do, enjoy the sport upon the artificial surface laid down by the patentees, as fully as if skimming the surface of a Dutch canal, or gliding through the mazes of a Lapland lake.
The artificial scenery at this place is so well contrived, that the skater may imagine himself in the midst of Switzerland.
The trees, the cottages, the shrubs, the very weeds, the sky, the distant prospect — all is winter, congelation, and frost, whilst, at the same time, the atmosphere is bland and genial.
But to return to "Frost Fair".
When the thaw came, and the ice began to break, the view on the river was one which, in strangeness of effect, and ruggedness of grandeur, was never equalled in London.
The whole river was a mass of moving icebergs, rolling along with the tide, striking against each other, and against the piers of the bridges, with a most deafening and continuous noise, a miniature representation of what may be supposed to take place in the Arctic regions, when winter yields to the coming spring.
This notice of "Frost Fair" will, with the engraving affixed, enable our readers to estimate what once was an "olden winter", and to rest satisfied with a sufficiency of real ice to cool their champagne at Epsom or Ascot races, without longing for such a taste of Boreas and his companion, "ruffian winds", as will congeal their blood, and bring coals to something like £5 a ton.
Ice Rink [Glaciarium]
Being a true Representation of a prodigious Frost, which began
about the beginning of December 1683, and continued till the
fourth day of February following, and held on with such violence, that men and beasts, coaches and carts, went as frequently thereon,
as boats were wont to pass before.
There was also a street of booths built from the Temple to Southwark, where were sold all sorts of goods imaginable, namely, cloaths, plate, earthenware, meat, drink, brandy, tobacco, and a hundred sorts of other com modities not here inserted: it being the wonder of this present age, and a great consternation to all the spectators.
[From a broadside in the British Museum]
Behold the wonder of this present age,
A famous river now become a stage.
Question not what I now declare to you,
The Thames is now both fair and market too;
And many thousands dayly do resort,
There to behold the pastime and the sport,
Early and late, used by young and old,
Who valu'd not the fierceness of the cold;
And did not think of that Almighty hand
Who made the waters bare, like to the land.
Thousands and thousands to the river flocks,
Where mighty flakes of ice do lye like rocks.
There may you see the coaches swiftly run,
As if beneath the ice were waters none;
And sholes of people every where there be,
Just like to herrings in the brackish sea;
And there the quaking water-men will stand ye,
Kind master, drink you beer, or ale, or brandy?
Walk in, kind sir, this booth it is the chief,
We'l entertain you with a slice of beef,
And what you please to eat or drink, 'tis here,
No booth, like mine, affords such dainty cheer.
Another crys, Here master, they but scoff ye,
Here is a dish of famous new-made coffee.
And some do say a giddy senseless ass
May on the Thames be furnished with a lass;
But, to be short, such wonders there are seen,
That in this age before hath never been.
Before the Temple there a street is made,
And there is one almost of every trade:
There may you also this hard frosty winter,
See on the rocky ice a working printer,
Who hopes by his own art to reap some gain,
Which he perchance does think he may obtain.
Here is also a lottery, and musick too,
Yea, a cheating, drunken, leud, and debauch'd crew.
Hot codlins, pancakes, duck, goose, and sack,
Rabit, capon, hen, turkey, and a wooden jack.
In this same street before the Temple made,
There seems to be a brisk and lively trade:
Where ev'ry booth hath such a cunning sign,
As seldome hath been seen in former time;
The Flying Piss-pot is one of the same,
The Whip and Egg-shell, and the Broom by name:
And there, if you have money for to spend,
Each cunning snap will seem to be your friend.
There may you see small vessels under sail,
All's one to them, with or against the gale,
And as they pass they little guns do fire,
Which feedeth some, and puffs them with desire
To sail therein, and when their money's gone,
'Tis right, they cry, the Thames to come upon.
There on a sign you may most plainly see't,
Here's the first tavern built in Freezeland-street:
There is bull-baiting and bear-baiting too,
That no man living yet e're found so true;
And foot-ball play is there so common grown,
That on the Thames before was never known;
Coals being dear, are carry'd on men's backs,
And some on sledges these are drawn in sacks;
Men do on horse-back ride from shore to shore,
Which formerly in boats were wafted o're:
Poor people hard shifts make for livelihoods,
And happy are if they can sell their goods;
What you can buy for three-pence on the shore,
Will cost you four-pence on the Thames or more.
Now let me come to things more strange, yet true,
And question not what I declare to you;
There roasted was a great and well-fed oxe,
And there, with dogs, hunted the cunning fox;
Dancing o'th' ropes, and puppit-plays likewise,
The like before ne'er seen beneath the skies;
All stand admir'd, and very well they may,
To see such pastimes, and such sort of play.
Besides the things I nam'd to you before,
There other toys and baubles are great store;
There you may feast your wandring eyes enough,
There you may buy a box to hold your snuff.
No fair nor market underneath the skies
That can afford you more varieties;
There you may see some hundreds slide in skeets,
And beaten paths like to the city streets.
There were Dutch whimsies turned swiftly round
Faster then horses run on level ground.
The like to this I now to you do tell
No former age could ever parallel;
There's all that can supply most curious minds,
With such varieties of cunning signs
That I do think no man doth understand;
Such merry fancies ne'r were on the land;
There is such whimsies on the frozen ice,
Make some believe the Thames a Paridice.
And though these sights be to our admiration
Yet our sins, our sins, do call for lamentation.
Though such unusual frosts to us are strange,
Perhaps it may predict some greater change;
And some do fear may a fore-runner be
Of an approaching sad mortality:
But why should we to such belief incline
There's none that knows but the blest Pow'r divine
And whatsoe're is from Jehovah sent,
Poor sinners ought therewith to be content;
If dreadful, then to fall upon the knee,
And beg remission of the Deity;
But if beyond our thoughts he sends us store,
With all our hearts let's thankful be therefore.
Now let us all in great Jehovah trust
Who doth preserve the righteous and the just;
And eke conclude sin is the cause of all
The heavy judgments that on us do fall:
And call to mind, fond man, thy time mispent,
Fall on thy knees, and heartily repent;
Then will thy Saviour pity take on thee,
And thou shalt live to all eternity.
Printed by M.Haly and J.Miller, and sold by Robert Waltor, at the Globe, on the north side of St. Paul's Church, near that end towards Ludgate, where you may have all sorts and sizes of maps, coppy-books, and prints, not only English, but Italian, French, and Dutch; and by John Seller, on the west side of the Royal Exchange. 1684.
[From a broadside in the British Museum.]
How am I fill'd with wonder for to see
A flooding river now a road to be,
Where ships and barges used to frequent,
Now may you see a booth of fudling tent;
And those that us'd to ask where shall I land ye,
Now cry, what lack ye, sir, beer, ale, or brandy?
Here, here, walk in, and you shall surely find
Your entertainment good, my usage kind.
Booths they increased dayly, more and more,
People by thousands flocking from the shore;
And in such heaps they thither did repair,
As if they had been hasting to a fair.
And such a fair I never yet came near,
Where shop-rents were so cheap, and goods so dear.
Then might you have all kind of earthenware,
You can scarce name a thing but what was there.
There was to sell both French and Spanish wine,
And yet, perhaps, a dishclout for a signe;
In short, the like was never seen before,
Where coaches run as if upon the shore;
And men on horseback too and fro did ride,
Not minding either current, or the tide:
It was exceeding strange at first to see,
Both men and women so advent'rous be;
And yet at last it grew so very common,
'Twas not admir'd, it seemed strange to no man.
Then from the Temple there was built a street,
Made old and young, and all admire that see't;
Which street to Southwark reached. There might you see
Wonders! if you did love variety,
There was rost beef, and gamon to be sold,
But at so dear a rate, I dare be bold
To say, 'twas never sold so on the shore,
Nor on the Thames, in hast, be any more.
There were Dutch whimsies turning swiftly round,
By which the owners cleared many a pound;
And coles and corn was there in sledges draw'd,
As if the Thames would never have been thaw'd.
All kind of trades did to this market come,
Hoping to get more profit than at home:
And some whose purses were a little swel'd,
Would not have car'd how long the frost had held.
In several places there was nine-pins plaid,
And pidgeon holes for to beget a trade.
Dancing and fidling too there was great store,
As if they had not been from off the shore;
The art of printing there was to be seen,
Which in no former age had ever been;
And goldsmiths' shops were furnished with plate,
But they must dearly pay for't that would hav't.
And coffee-houses in great numbers were,
Scattered about in this cold freezing fair,
There might you sit down by a char-cole fire,
And for your money have your heart's desire,
A dish of coffee, chocalet, or tea,
Could man desire more furnished to be?
No, no, if you the world should wander through,
No fair like this could pleasant seem to you.
There was the baiting of the ugly bear,
Which sport to see hundreds did repair,
And I believe since the world's first creation,
The like was never seen in this our nation:
And football playing there was day by day,
Some broke their legs, and some their arms they say:
All striving to get credit, but some paid
Most dearly for it, I am half afraid.
Bull-baiting likewise there was known to be,
Which on the Thames before none ever see,
And never was poor dogs more bravely tost
Then they were, in this strange prodigious frost;
Th' inraged bull perceiv'd his enemies,
And how to guard himself could not devise,
But with his horns did toss them too and fro,
As if their angry meaning he did know;
Besides all this a thing more strange and rare
Than all the things were seen in Freezland fair,
An ox was roasted whole, which thousands saw,
For 'twas not many dayes before the thaw;
The like by no man in this present age,
Was ever seen upon this icy stage.
And this hard frost it did so long indure,
It pinch'd, and almost famish'd many poor.
But one thing more I needs to you must tell,
The truth of which thousands do know full well,
There was fox-hunting on this frozen river,
Which may a memorandum be for ever.
For I do think since Adam drew his breath,
No fox was hunted on the ice to death.
Thus have you heard what wonders there were seen,
How heaven and earth the people walk'd between.
And since the world at first had its creation,
The like was never seen in this our nation.
Yet was it hard and grievous to the poor,
Who many hungry bellies did endure:
Sad spectacles enough you might behold,
Who felt th' effect of this prodigious cold;
But God who is most righteous, good, and just,
Will them preserve who in him put their trust;
And when their dangers greatest seem to be,
Blest be his name, he then doth sit them free.
Then let us all, while we have time and breath,
Be still prepar'd to meet with pale-fac'd death,
That when he comes we need not be afraid,
Nor at his dart be frighted or dismaid;
If we on Jesus Christ wholly depend,
He'l prove to us an everlasting friend.
London: Printed by H.Brugis, in Green Arbor, Little Old Bayly. 1684.
Being a Relation of the merry Pranks play'd on the River
of Thames during the great Frost.
[From a broadside in the Ashmolean Collection.]
Come listen a while (tho' the weather be cold),
In your pockets and plackets your hands you may hold;
I'll tell you a story as true as 'tis rare,
Of a river turn'd into a Bartholomew fair.
Since old Christmas last,
There has been such a frost,
That the Thames has by half the whole nation been crost;
Oh, scullers, I pity your fate of extreames,
Each land-man is now become free of the Thames.
'Tis some Lapland acquaintance of conjurer Oates,
That has ty'd up your hands and imprisoned your boats;
You know he was ever a friend to the crew,
Of all those that to Admiral James have been true:
Where sculls did once row
Men walk to and fro,
But e're four months are ended, 'twill hardly be so;
Should your hopes of a thaw by this weather be crost,
Your fortune will soon be as hard as the frost.
In roast-beef and brandy much money is spent,
And booths made of blankets, that pay no ground-rent;
With old fashion'd chimneys the rooms are secur'd,
And the houses from danger of fire are insur'd.
The chief place you meet,
Is call'd Temple-street,
If you do not believe me, then you may go and see't;
From the Temple the students do thither resort,
Who were always great patrons of revels and sport.
The citizen comes with his daughter and wife,
And swears he ne're saw such a sight in his life;
The prentices starv'd, at home, for want of coals,
To catch them a heat do flock thither in shoals:
While the country squire
Does stand and admire,
At the wondrous conjunction of water and fire;
Straight comes an arch wag, a young son of a whore,
And lays the squire's head where his heels were before.
The Rotterdam Dutchman with fleet-cutting scates,
To pleasure the crowd, shows his tricks and his feats;
Who, like a rope-dancer (for his sharp steels),
His brains and activity lies in his heels;
Here all things like fate,
Are in slippery state,
From the soal of the foot, to the crown of the pate;
While the rabble in sledges run giddily round,
And nought but a circle of folly is found.
Here damsels are handled, like nymphs in the bath,
By gentlemen-ushers, with legs like a lath;
They slide to a tune, and cry give me your hand,
When the tottering fops are scarce able to stand.
Then with fear and with care
They arrive at the fair,
Where wenches sell glasses and crackt earthen-ware;
To show that the world and the pleasures it brings,
Are made up of brittle and slippery things.
Printed for Charles Corbet, at the Oxford Arms, in Warwick Lane. 1684.
The Tune of "Packington's Pound."
[From a broadside in the Ashmolean Collection.]
I'LL tell ye a tale (though before 'twas in print),
If you make nothing on't, then the devil is in't;
'Tis no tale of a tub, nor the plotting of treason,
But of very strange things have been done this cold season.
You know there's a book,
No, no, I mistook,
For I could not find it, though long I did look;
Yet I do not question, for all the odd freaks,
We shall find it again when e're the frost breaks.
If you do believe what was told us by Oates,
Ye never again will have use of your boats;
Without you do now imploy the Wheelers to do't,
Ye ne'r will be able to bring all about.
He talkt of a plot,
Believe it, or not,
To blow up the Thames, and to do't on the spot;
Then either the doctor must now be believ'd,
Or else the doctor and we are deceiv'd.
No water I see, which does fairly incline
To make me believe he has sprung now his mine;
Though that did not do what the doctor intended,
Yet he may for one thing be said to be commended.
He said that the pope,
(Pray mind, 'tis a trope)
Would send us his bulls by the way of the Hope;
And tho' for the sign we have all along been waiting,
I t'other day saw on the ice a bull baiting.
I hope you'll believe me, 'twas a fine sight,
As ever I saw on Queen Besses night;
Though I must confess I saw no such dogs there,
As us'd to attend the infallible chair.
Yet there was some men,
Whom I knew again,
Who bawl'd as they did, when they chose aldermen;
And saith it had been a most excellent shew,
Had there been some crackers and serpents to throw.
Another thing pleased me, as I hope for life,
I saw of a man that had gotten a wife,
To see the rare whimsies the woman was sick,
So never suspected a slippery trick;
But when she came there
The ice would not bear,
But whether 'twas his fault or hers, I can't swear;
Yet thus far is true, had he lost his wife,
He then might have pray'd for a frost all his life.
There's very fine tricks, and new subject for laughter,
For there you may take a coach and go by water;
So get a tarpawling too, as you are jogging,
Tho' a nymph t'other day for it got a good flogging.
There was an old toast
Of beef had a roast,
Which fell into the cellar, and fairly was lost;
O see in old proverbs sometimes there is truth,
A man is not sure of his meat till't 's in 's mouth.
But I had forgot my chief bus'ness, I swear,
To give an account of new Temple-street fair;
Where most of the students do daily resort,
To shew the great love they had always for sport,
Who oft give a token,
I hope't may be spoken,
To maid in a mask, who squeaks like a pig a poke in,
To see such crack't vessels sail is a new matter,
Who have been so shatter'd between wind and water.
Like Babel this fair's not built with brick or stone,
Though here I believe is as great confusion,
Now blanckets are forc'd a double duty to pay,
On beds all the night, and for houses all day;
But there's something more,
Some people deplore,
Their carelessly leaving open sellar door,
Which puts me in mind of Jack Presbyters trick,
Who from pulpit descends the like way to old Nick.
There's many more tricks, but too long to be told,
Which are not all new, tho' there's none of 'em old,
There's the fellow that printeth the Old-Baily tryal,
Who to all the dull printers does give a denyal;
He'l print for a sice,
(For that is his price),
Your name (that you may brag 'twas done) on the ice.
And faith I do think it a very fine thing,
So my tail's at an end, but first, God save the king.
Printed for Charles Corbet, at the Oxford Arms, in Warwick Lane. 1684.
" [From a broadside in a Private Collection.]
YE Whigs and Dissenters, I charge you attend;
Here is a sad story as ever was told,
The River of Thames, that once was your friend,
Is frozen quite over with ice very cold,
And fish which abounded,
Though they can't be drownded,
For lack of their liquor, I fear, are confounded.
Then leave your rebellious and damn'd presbytering,
Or you may be glad of poor-jack and red-herring.
Now, had it been frozen with brimstone and fire,
The wonder had been much deeper at bottom;
Tho' some do believe your sins do require
A punishment great as e'er fell upon Sodom:
But then the poor fish
Had been dress'd to your dish,
And, 'stead of a plague, you had then had your wish;
Pikes, flounders, together with gudgeons and roaches,
Had served for the luxury of these debauches.
But, alas! to distrust ye this frost is now sent,
As if it would shew ye your consciences harden'd;
And if each mother's child make not hast to repent,
How the devil d'ye think ye shall ever be pardon'd?
'Tis a very hard case
As ever yet was
That the river should suffer for every ass!
Poor Thames! thou may'st curse the foul lake of Geneva,
For whose faults thou dost penance, sans hope of reprieve-a.
This Thames, O ye whigs' brought you plenty and pride,
So ye harden'd your hearts with your silver and gold;
But if ever ye hope to redeem time or tide
Hot must your repentance, your zeal must be cold;
Your damn'd hungry zeal
For rank commonweal
Will hurry ye headlong all down to the De'el;
Then melt your hard hearts, and your tears spread abroad,
As ever ye hope that your Thames shall be thaw'd.
Make hast, and be soon reconcil'd to the truth,
Or you may lament it both old men and young;
For suppose ev'ry shop should be turn'd to a booth,
Oh, were it not sad to be told with a tongue?
Should Cheapside advance
Up to Petty France,
And London's Guild-hall up to Westminster dance;
O what would become of your wealthy brave chamber,
If it were forc'd so far westward to clamber?
Cooks' shops with roast victuals, and taverns with wine,
Already are seen on the river with plenty,
Which are fill'd ev'ry morning before you can dine,
By two's and by three's, I may truly say twenty;
Jack, Tom, Will, and Harry,
Nan, Sue, Doll, and Mary,
Come there to devour plum-cakes and canary;
And if with their dancing and wine they be tir'd
For a tester a piece there's a coach to be hir'd.
There's ginger-bread, small-cole, and hot pudding-pies,
With bread and cheese, brandy and good ale and beer:
Besides the plum-cakes, too, there's large cakes of ice,
Enough to invite him that will come there;
All which does betide
To punish your pride;
Y'are plagu'd now with ice, 'cause you love to back-slide;
Methinks it should warn you to alter your station,
For y' have hitherto built on a slippery foundation.
Ye merchants, to Greenland now leave off your sailing,
And for your train oyl yourselves never solicite;
For there is no fear of your merchandise failing,
Since the whales, I'm afraid, mean to give us a visit:
The great leviathan
May sail to England,
To see a worse monster, the Presbyterian.
Was ever a vengeance so wonderful shown,
That a river so great should be turned to a town?
Sold at the Entrance into the Old Spring Garden, near Charing-cross, 1684.
[From the original ballad in the Ashmolean Museum]
Fam'd Thamasis with shiv'ring winter dresses,
With isicles, and other borrow'd tresses,
And on her head a periwig of snow,
And freezed mantle fring'd with ice below,
Out of her watry bed, amaz'd appears,
And thus the current of her language stears:
Spread a large canvas, painter, to contain
The strange surprising sights, the numerous train,
That all about my back do walk or sit,
Of all degrees, some sage, some wanting wit;
For crowds of people hither do retire,
As to Moorfields, after the dreadful fire,
Threatning the city to depopulate,
As once before it was unfortunate.
Then draw the king, who on his leads doth stay
To see the throng, as on a Lord Mayor's day,
And thus unto his nobles pleas'd to say:
With these men on this ice, I'de undertake
To cause the Turk all Europe to forsake;
An army of these men, arm'd and compleat,
Would soon the Turk in Christendom defeat.
Then draw me Temple-Blanket-street, where all
The water-men do loudly cry and bawl,
Louder than lawyers in Western-hall;
Instead of standing at the stairs to ply,
They say, What is't you lack? what is't you buy?
And whilst the rooks do tell an heavy tale,
And curse the frost, they cry, Good beer and ale,
Coffee, or mum, or wine, the heart to chear,
Roast beef, or mutton boil'd, or brandy clear.
There mighty ice-cakes and plumb-cakes are found;
There all variety of things abound,
Only green pease and cherries, they are rare
As guineys in a poet's pocket are.
Here you may buy a diamond ring for nought,
Such as from India ne'er was brought;
(The cuts were diamond, the substance ice,
Which in men's pockets vanish'd in a trice:
But for his cheat the man will pay full dear,
Condemned by my lord to whipping chear.)
Then, painter, let us to the print-house go,
Where men the art of printing soon do know;
Where, for a teaster, you may have your name
Printed, hereafter for to show the same;
And sure in former ages ne'er was found
A press to print, where men so oft were dround.
Next, notice of the various motions take;
Some bold as Hector, some for fear do quake:
One slides, one slips, and one downright doth fall
Into an hole, the skuller then doth bawl,
What, will you rob my cellar of its drink,
When he, alas! poor man, no harm doth think.
There chariots fly, there coaches run on wheels,
And men (out-tipling of the fishes) reels,
And often up doth go the woman's heels,
And something, to remember what she saw, she feels.
The water-men as busie are as bees,
Or as some Welchmen cramming toasted cheese;
Instead of waves that used to beat the shore,
There bears and bull loudly now do roar.
There boats do slide, where boats were wont to row;
Where ships did sail, the water-men them tow;
All things do move upon this element,
As if on terra ferma their feet went.
Hard times the good and righteous God hath sent,
For our more hardned hearts as punishment;
From heav'n this scourge is sent us for our pride;
We're plagu'd with ice, because we do backslide.
The only way these things for to redress,
Is that each one his sins to God confess;
Let every one sweep clean and neat his door,
And let our hearts be softened to the poor;
Honour the king, and all your neighbours love,
And then the heav'ns these judgments will remove.
London: Printed by G.Croom, on the River of Thames.
[From the Ashmolean Museum]
When Neptune saw a wondrous bridge built o're
His silver Thames, that reach'd from shore to shore,
He shook his trident and with aweful frown,
Swore 'twas presumption in the haughty town,
Now laughs to see it standing useless o're,
Whilst ice has made it one continued shore,
Under whose spreading roof he silent glides
And ebbs, and hews, unheard, unseen, his tides.
Greenland, Muscovy, sure their cold have lent,
And all their frigid blasts have hither sent;
Whilst Boreas with his keenest breath has blown,
To make our winter cold as is their own:
That if my inke was not congeal'd as it,
I'de on the subject shew a poet's wit.
The fish lye closely in their watry bed,
And find an icy ceiling o're their head.
They fear no anglers that do lye in wait,
Nor are deceived by the alluring bait.
The watermen with folded arms doe stand,
And grieve to see the water firm as land,
Their boats hal'd up, their oars laid useless by,
Nor oars, nor skuller, master, do they cry,
Wishing kind Zephyrus with a warmer gale
Would once more launch their boat and fill their sail;
Or that the sun would with his gentle flames
Again set free their best of friends, the Thames.
The shoars no longer sound with Westward hoe,
Nor need men boats where they can firmly goe.
See how the noble river in a trice
Is turned as it were one spacious street of ice.
And who 'ld believe to see revived there,
In January, Bartholomew fair.
Where all the mobile in crowds resort,
As on firm land, to walk, and trade, and sport;
Now booths do stand where boats did lately row,
And on its surface up and down men go,
And Thames becomes a kind of raree-show.
Its upper rooms are let to mortal dweller,
And underneath it is god Neptune's cellar;
Now Vulcan makes his fires on Neptune's bed,
And sawcy cooks roast beef upon his head,
As many tuns of ale and brandy flow
Above the ice, as waters do below;
And folk do tipple, without fear to sink,
More liquors then the fish beneath do drink.
Here you may see a crowd of people flock,
One's heels fly up, and down he's on his dock;
Another steps, 'tis strange but true, no matter,
And in he flounces up to th' neck in water;
A third more sure his slipp'ry footsteps guides,
And safely o'er the ice away he slides;
Another upon skeats does swiftly pass,
Cutting the ice like diamonds upon glass.
Women, beware you come not here at all,
You are most like to slip and catch a fall,
This you may do, tho' in your gallant's hand,
And if you fall, he has no power to stand;
'Tis ten to one you tumble in a trice,
For you are apt to fall where there's no ice,
Oft on your back, but seldome on your face,
How can you stand then on such a slippery place?
Yet you will venture briskly to a booth,
To take a glass or two with youngster Smooth,
Then back again as briskly to the shore,
As wise and honest as you were before.
Here (like the great) on slip'ry place you stand,
They can nor fate, nor you your feet, command.
My muse to scribble further has no maw,
But for your good doe wish a speedy thaw,
And let it ne'r be said 'twixt you and I,
The winter's cold, but move your charity.
Then let the poor meanwhile your bounty find,
And heav'n to you, as you to them prove kind.
London, Printed for J.Shad, 1684.
[From the Ashmolean Museum.]
Whence is this chance O heavens! that ye be
So much afflictive unto piteous me?
What makes the air and blustring winds combine
Within a rockey coffin to confine
Me, and my family, who for ages gone
With Boreas held a constant union?
Not by transgression have I giv'n the cause
For men to say I've wrong'd my sov'raign's laws.
Pity my case, and in your wonted mode,
Dissolve those shackels that do now me load.
Come Auster, with thy more auspicious breath,
And save us all from thraldom, and from death.
For those great hoasts that always lodged with me,
And had their dainties at my table free,
Look like dry'd skeletens. The great supplies,
(Which from the city come, and did suffice
Them all), since here we have imprison'd been,
Are now with-held, and can't be longer seen.
Yea, to enhance my grief, the greater fish o'erpower
The lesser ones, and daily them devour,
Thus scince there is no other food to find,
Unkindly they do feed on their own kind;
Great sholes of fry besides for want are spread,
Some here, some there, some sick, the most are dead.
Darkness surrounds this watry region so,
The stoutest ones from melancholick grow,
Nor doth bright Titan with his wonted light,
By day afford occasion for delight.
Up ore the ceiling we great thunder hear,
Which strikes the very sturgeon into fear.
Both carts and coaches with their ratling wheels,
Great noise of men's and horses trampling heels,
Cause such a quaking as the earth doth make,
When of proud winds her caves a surfeat take,
Worse than Ægyptian plagues do us pursue,
Yet were we ne'er unkind to Israel's crew.
Over our heads a colony is come,
That dispossesses us both of house and home,
Who cross to Nature's laws, have left the land,
And on my liquid surface firmly stand.
Where Peter walking once began to sink,
These ruffians now do swagger, wench and drink.
Oh strange! more strange then Israel's wonder was,
When dry-shod ore the Red Sea they did pass,
(The flouds well curb'd) they did on sand advance;
These on the floods themselves both frisk and dance.
With me, ye citizens! lament and moan,
I've been your antient friend, and faithful one.
Under your roofs your wealth I've safely brought,
Which with great cares quite round the world ye sought.
There's scarce a soul within your wall that I
Did not with dayly aid at first supply,
And you brisk watermen, above the rest,
Who've suckt your living from my pregnant breast,
Bedew your lean cheeks with repented tears,
Till heav'n do sympathize, and quel your fears.
For tho that now you're brandy merchants grown,
Turne watermen again, ye'r oer thrown.
London, Printed by T.Snowden, January 30, 1684.
Being an exact Representation of the River Thames, as it appeared during the memorable Frost, which began about the
middle of December, and ended on the 28th of February, anno 1683-4.
[The following verses are under a rude wood-cut representation of Frost Fair, in a private Collection.]
The various sports behold here in this piece,
Which for six weeks were seen upon the ice;
Upon the Thames the great variety
Of plays and booths is here brought to your eye.
Here coaches, as in Cheapside, run on wheels,
Here men (out-tipling of the fishes) reels:
Instead of waves that us'd to beat the shore,
Here bulls they bait, till loudly they do roar;
Here boats do slide, where boats were wont to row,
Where ships did sail, the sailors do them tow;
And passengers in boats the river crost,
For the same price as 'twas before the frost.
There is the printing booth of wonderous fame,
Because that each man there did print his name;
And sure, in former ages, ne're was found,
A press to print, where men so oft were drown'd.
In blanket booths, that sit at no ground rent,
Much coin in beef and brandy there is spent.
The Dutchmen here in nimble cutting scates,
To please the crowd do shew their tricks and feats;
The rabble here in chariots run around,
Co??ee, and tea, and mum, doth here abound.
The tinkers here doth march at sound of kettle,
And all men know that they are men of mettle:
Here roasted was an ox before the court,
Which to much folks afforded meat and sport;
At nine-pins here they play, as in Moorfields,
This place the pass-time us of foot-ball yields:
The common hunt here makes another show,
As he to hunt an hare is wont to go;
But though no woods are here or hares so fleet,
Yet men do often foxes catch and meet;
Into a hole here one by chance doth fall,
At which the watermen began to bawl,
What, will you rob our cellar of its drink?
When he, alas! poor man, no harm did think.
Here men well mounted do on horses ride
Here they do throw at cocks as at Shrovetide;
A chariot here so cunningly was made,
That it did move itself without the aid
Of horse or rope, by virtue of a spring
That Vulcan did contrive, who wrought therein.
The rocks at nine-holes here do flock together
As they are wont to do in summer weather.
Three ha'perth for a penny, here they cry,
Of gingerbread, come, who will of it buy?
This is the booth where men did money take,
For crape and ribbons that they there did make;
But in six hours, this great and rary show
Of booths and pastimes all away did go.
Printed in the year 1684.
[From a MS. in a private Collection.]
Behold the wonders of almighty God,
Whose looks dry up, or chain the swelling flood:
See how his breath lock'd up the waving Thames,
And under rocks of ice confin'd her streams,
In spight of Phoebus' heat contracted beams;
Whilst restless Neptune, murmuring underneath
His strange captivity, durst scarcely breathe.
A trading mart the harden'd waves become,
And marble-like the wat'ry world intomb;
Whilst on its glass gilt face strange buildings stand,
In spite of throbbing waves, as on the land;
Furnisht with trades, that there most things are sold,
As vessels of silver, copper, wood, brass, gold;
Pewter, tinn, glass, and what could trade create,
Wine, beer, ale, brandy, chockelet;
Yea, toys, confections, roast-meat, gingerbread,
Were there produc'd, on which some thousands fed:
These were not all, books and varieties,
Strange to be seen, were there to please men's eyes:
Ne're known before, street crowded upon street,
Signs upon signs, men's admiration meet.
Printing, an art before ne're public shown,
Upon the frozen-flood, to thousands known;
Bulls and bears baited, pleasant monkey-shows,
Fine eating, swallowing knives, trod iron that glows,
Walk'd on with naked feet, Dutch flying boats,
Coaches, swift running; ships as if afloat
Drove on wheels; Dutch whirling, whimsic chair,
Turning more swift than unrestrained air;
A Freezeland chariot, a self moving coach,
Whose swiftness rais'd men's admiration much.
Nine-pins were play'd at, and cock fighting found,
Sliding on scates, fox hunting, as tho' o'th ground.
Ox roasted whole, horse-racing, pigin-holes,
Great football matches, and a game at bowls:
Whilst scatter'd on strong ice there every where,
Blanketed, boarded, matted booths appear;
And from the Temple to the barge-house o'er
A wonderous street, the ice long floating, bore,
Making throughout but one continued shore,
Shrove Tuesday with cock-throwing usher'd in,
Was on the flood made hard by cold wind, seen;
Corn, coles, and wood, o're it daily convey'd,
And on the starlings kept the brandy trade;
Through bridge, men walk'd whilst the strong ice below,
As that above, could numerous buildings show.
Not ships, but sail-cloath mansions tent-wise fram'd,
In which great fires, with roast meat at them flam'd;
And some their pamper'd steeds durst proudly prance,
Whilst music play'd, drums beat, and men did dance:
Streamers wav'd with the wind, and all was bent
To give the kind spectators due content:
Who came in crowds to see that wond'rous sight,
Where people on the Thames dwelt day and night;
Whilst strong north winds with unrelenting cold,
Imprison'd nature did in fetters hold.
But heaven was kind at last, the south wind blew,
And weeping clouds o're earth's hard bosom threw,
Resolving all things with a subtile dew.
Finis. A.D. 1684.
To the Tune of "Hey, boys, up go we".
[From a broadside in the Ashmolean Collection.]
Come, ye merry men all,
Let's hoist out our boats and careen;
The Thames it does melt,
And the cold is scarce felt,
Not an isicle's now to be seen.
Let's pull down each scull,
That hung up in hall,
Like weapon so rusty, and row;
Let's cheerly fall to't,
If we've not forgot,
For the frost is over now.
Let's set up our masts,
That stood like posts,
As props to our tents on the Thames;
Or signe-posts made,
With an antient displai'd,
While our oars were the great cross-beams,
Let's hoist up our sail
That was a side vail,
To hide Doll when with brandy she'd glow;
Or a roof compos'd,
You might else have been froz'd,
Though the frost be over now.
We'll no longer stand
With a tapster's hand,
With a spigot in hand for an oar,
Crying out, our trade is cold,
Here's four gallons in hold,
I have drawn out but half my store.
Prithee lads, stand to't,
And help pump it out,
That the vessel once more may flow:
Then come again
With a thirsty train,
But the frost is over now.
Let's tune our throats
To our usual notes,
Of Twitnam, Richmond, hey;
Sir, skuller, sir? oars, sir?
Loudly roar, sir?
Here's Dick, sir, you won't pass him by ?
Instead of good ale,
And brandy-wine stale,
Let's cry out, Westward hoe!
Shall we Moreclack make,
Or for Branford tack,
For the frost is over now.
We'll take no boat,
That once did float,
And service good had done;
And on his keel,
Clap sledge for heel,
And inforce him like traytor to run:
So to make him appear
Like a China carr,
With a tawdry painted prow,
And a tire or more,
Of Potguns four:
For the frost is over now.
Let's call in our men,
Lest forty to ten,
From such a long vacation,
And converse oft
With the loose and soft
Landlopers of the nation,
They resty prove,
Or fall in love
With Jenny's cole-black brow;
And then no more
On the seas will roar;
Though the frost be over now.
For some were led
Odde paths to tread,
And bear the waters on
Their brawny backs,
Who with flying jacks
Have triumph'd thereupon;
Or to get chink,
To carry link,
Though 'twas out of their element,
And in the night
Cry, Have a light,
Though the frost is over now.
Others there were
On icy sphere,
Wheel'd mortals in a round,
That used to tack,
And angles make,
That port it might be found:
Or on the main
A voyage gain
By equinoctial bow,
And haven got
, Drink off their pot;
But the frost is over now.
They used to stare
On northern bear;
But now on earthly bull
They turn their looks
Quite off the hooks,
And on the cause look dull.
Used to survey
The dog-star, they
No other whelps allow
To bark and ball
Within ken o' th' Hall;
But the frost is over now.
Had Thames been thaw'd,
And whale had tow'd
Himself up by his fin,
They all had then,
E'en as one man,
Have hoop'd and hoop'd agen.
Their anchors shook,
And spread with hook,
And made him stoop full low;
T'other rural sport
They care not for't;
But the frost is over now.
The Dutch that in great
Large shoals used to meet,
And clapt their crook'd scates on their foot,
Now no more dare appear
To make folken stare
While on the smooth surface they float.
They betaken each man
To their butter and kan,
And by their side have their froe;
Their cabbadge they boil,
And eat herring with oil,
For the frost is over now.
The sledge's load
Shall no more defraud
The boat of its cargo large;
We again may land
Coals, so may the western barge
Shall we that have gone
To Newcastle each one,
Let the carmen over us crow?
No, no, my boys,
We'll renew our joys,
For the frost is over now.
Nor shall hackney-coach,
Where whores do debauch,
Upon our Thames now run;
They have plow'd her face,
And nigh spoil'd her grace,
Where the frost-nail'd horse has gone.
Nor shall they bawl,
Will your gowned worship go?
We wept in despite
While the rogues went tight;
But the frost is over now.
The town too's gone
That they waited on,
And the people flock'd to see:
It fled in one night
Quite out of our sight,
As the castles enchanted that be;
While country squire
Whom journey might tire,
With watry eyes cannot view
The street a long way
That he came to survey;
For the frost is over now.
Not a horn can he buy,
Nor an earthenware-toy,
His wife or his children to cheer:
Since Isis does turn
Her watry urn,
All the pitchers are march'd off here.
Nay, on the Thames wide
There remains not a slide
On which he may whisk to and fro:
He returns as he came
To his country dame,
For the frost is over now.
We're freed now each mate,
From the care and debate,
That attended us all so long;
To determine affairs
Betwixt the two stairs,
Down which all the people throng.
If you come once again,
Take some other men,
For the weight of it makes us to bow;
Een determine't your selves,
For your're quarrelsome elves,
And the frost is over now.
What, a plague, made you meet,
To come here to cheat
We watermen of our gain?
Had ye kept in your furs,
We had voided these stirs,
And you of cold the pain.
But to get your coin,
You'd up to the loin,
Though your arse should never thaw.
Go, get to your homes,
And make whole your bums,
Since the frost is over now.
Mean time, if ought
Of honour you've got,
Let the printers have their due,
Who printed your names,
On the river Thames,
While their hands with the cold look'd blue.
There's mine, there's thine,
Will for ages shine,
Now the Thames aloft does flow.
Then let's gang hence,
To our boats commence,
For the frost is over now.
London: Printed for the author, and sold by J.Norris, at the King's Arms, without Temple Bar, 1684.
[Frost Fair with swings]