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Sure, when religion did itself embark,
Nor can civility there want for tillage,
Let it suffice to give their country fame,
See but their mermaids, with their tails of fish
Or what a spectacle the skipper gross,
Vainly did this slap-dragon fury hope
BOTI DISTORICAL AND MORAL UPON THE
BURNING of LONDON, September, 1666.
With an Account of the Losses. And a most remarkable Parallel between London and Moscow,
both as to the Plague and Fire.
Also an Essay touching the Easterly Wind. Written by way of Narrative, for Satisfaction of the present
and future Ages.
By REGE SINCERA,
London, Printed by Thomas Ratcliffe, and are to be sold by Robert Pawlet, at
the Bible in Chancery-Lane, 1667.
Quarto, containing Thirty-eight Pages.
Many have written concerning this memorable Fire of London in 1666. But, I
presume, they, that read this, will agree, that none has done it with more con
ciseness, impartiality, and perspicuity. In the first place, The Author delivers the plain historical fact, without any exag
geration or foreign insinuations, and then enquires, Who has done it? In which enquiry, be endeavours to shew, that it was a punishment sent by a good and
wise God upon the City, for just, wise, and good causes. Thirdly, Enquiring what bath done it? He endeavours to prove, that this was the
greatest fire that ever happened upon the earth, since the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah, and shews, at a moderate computation, that the loss announted to, at least, 7,335,000 pounds. To which, by way of consolation, be adds an account of the greatness of the City of Moscow, and its visitation first with a rage ing plagne, and in the year following with a consuming fire, contrived by the Tartars, wbo pursued the Czar to that City, and setting fire to it on all sides, which not only burnt the louses and stuff, but destroyed 200,000 people also
in its flames, in less than four hours time. Fourihly, He expatiates on the praise of this City of London, and then endeavours
to find out the cause and accidents by which this fire was kindled and promoted; and concludes with some proper reflections on the reason and time of this conflagration,
To his much honoured and respected Friend, John Buller, Esq a
worthy Member of the hozourable House of Commons. SIR, T!!! VIIS little treatise having lain dormant in a corner of my desk
ever since its birth (which was three weeks after the fire) hath got at last so much strength as to walk abroad. The reason of its long repose was, that I expected when some more pregnant
wit and better pen would have undertaken this task, which is altogether out of my profession and employment. But, finding that hitherto all that hath been written concerning it, as to the narrative of its beginning, progress, and ending, hath been thought de. fective, I have given it leave to shew itself abroad, with observa. tions thereon, under your honourable name, as well to avoid the malignancy of censure, as to testify unto the world' how much I am Your humble and affectionate servant,
BEFORE we proceed any further in the examination of so la. men table and dismal a subject, we have thought fitting, for the cu. riosity of those that shall read these lines, and for the satisfaction of posterity, in whose hands it may chance to come, to set down the true and naked narrative of the fact as it did happen, and it hath been printed by the consent of his majesty, and of the publick authority, that the reader, being made certain of the truth of the accident, may the more willingly proceed to the examination of those observations we have made upon it.
Whitehall, September 8. On the second instant, at one of the clock in the morning, there happened to break out a sad and deplorable fire in Pudding-Lane, near New-Fish-Street; which falling out that hour of the night, and in a quarter of the town (so close built with wooden pitched houses) spread itself so far before day, and with such distraction to the inhabitants and neighbours, that care was not taken for the timely preventing the further diffusion of it, by pulling down hou. ses, as it ought to have been; so that this lamentable fire, in a short time, became too big to be mastered by the engines, or working near it. It fell out most unhappily too, that a violent easterly wind fomented it, and kept it burning all that day, and the night following spread itself up to Grace-church-strect, and downwards from Cannon-street, to the water-side, as far as the Three-Cranes in the Vintry.
The people, in all parts about it, . distracted by the vastness' of it, and their particular care to carry away their goods, many at. tempts were made to prevent the spreading of it, by pulling down houses, and making great intervals; but all in vain, the fire seizing upon the timber and rubbish, and so continuing itself even through those spaces, and raging in a bright tlame all Monday and Tues. day, notwithstanding his Majesty's own, and his Royal Highness's indefatigable and personal pains to apply all possible remedies to preventit, calling upon, and helping the people with their guards, and a great number of nobility and gentry unweariedly assisting therein; for which they were requited with a thousand blessings from the poor distressed people. By the favour of God, the wind slackened a little on Tuesday night, and the flames meeting with brick buildings at the Temple, by little and little it was observed to lose its force on that side; so that, on Wednesday morning, we began to hope well, and his Royal Highness never despairing, or slackening his personal care, wrought so well that day, assisted in some parts by the lords of the council before and behind it, that a stop was put to it at the Temple-church, near Holborn-bridge, Pye-corner, Aldersgate, Cripplegate, near the lower end of Coleman-street, at the end of Basinghall-street, by the Postern, at the upper end of Bishopsgate-street, and Leadenhall-street, at the Standard in Cornbill, at the Church in Fanchurch-street, near Cloth workers-hall in Mincing-lane, at the middle of Mark-lane, and at the Tower-dock.
On Thursday, by the blessing of God, it was wholly beat down and extinguished, but so as that evening it unhappily broke out again at the Temple, by the falling of some sparks (as is supposed) upon a pile of wooden buildings; but his Royal Highness, who watched there that whole night in person, by the great labours and diligence used, and especially by their applying powder to blow up the houses about it, before day most happily mastered it.
Divers strangers, Dutch and French, were during the fire apprehended, upon suspicion that they contributed mischievously to it, who were all imprisoned, and informations prepared to make a severe inquisition thereupon by my Lord Chief Justice Keeling, assisted by some of the lords of the privy-council, and some prin. cipal members of the city; notwithstanding which suspicions, the manner of the burning all along in a train, and so blown forwards in all its way by strong winds, make us conclude the whole was an effect of an unhappy chance; or, to speak better, the heavy hand of God upon us for our sins, shewing us the terror of his judgments in thus raising the fire; and immediately after his miraculous and never enough to be acknowledged mercy, in putting a stop to it when we were in the last despair, and that all attempts for the quenching it, however industriously pursued, seemed insufficient. His majesty then sat hourly in council, and in his own person making rounds about the city, in all parts of it where the danger and mischief was greatest, till next morning, that he sent his grace the Duke of Albemarle, whom he called from sea to assist him on this great occasion, to put his happy and successful hand to the finishing of this memorable deliverance.
About the Tower, the seasonable orders given for plucking down houses, to secure the magazines of powder, was more espe. cially successful, that part being up the wind; notwithstanding which, it came almost to the very gates of it; so as, by this early provision, the several stores of war, lodged in the Tower, were intirely saved ; and we have further this infinite cause, particularly, to give God thanks, that the fire did not happen in any of those places where his majesty's naval-stores are kept; so, though it hath pleased God to visit us with his own hand, he hath not, by dis-furnishing us with the means of carrying on the war, subjected us unto all our enemies.
Through this sad accident, it is easy to be imagined, how many persons were necessitated to remove themselves and goods into the open fields, where they were forced to continue some time, which could not but work compassion in the beholders.
But his majes. ty's care was more signal on this occasion, who, besides his per. sonal pains, was frequent in consulting always for relieving those distressed persons; which produced so good effect, as well by his majesty's proclamations, and the orders issued to the neighbouring justices of peace, to encourage the sending in of provision to the markets, which are publickly known, as by other directions, that (when his majesty, fearing lest other orders might not yet have been sufficient, had commanded the victualler of his navy to send bread into Moorfields, for the relief of the poor, which, for the more speedy supply, he sent in baskets out of the sea-stores) it was found that the markets had been already so well supplied, that the people, being unaccustomed to that kind of bread, declined it, and so it was returned in great part to his majesty's stores again, without any use made of it.
And we cannot but observe, to the confutation of all his majes. ty's enemies, who endeavour to persuade the world abroad, of great parties and disaffection at home against his majesty's government, that a greater instance of the affection of this city could never be given, than hath been now given in this sad and deplorable acci, dent, when, if at any time, disorder might have been expected from the losses, distraction, and almost desperation of some persons in their private fortunes, thousands of people not having to cover them. And yet, in all this time, it hath been so far from any appearance of designs or attempts against his majesty's government, his majesty and his royal brother, out of their care to stop and prevent the fire, frequently exposing their persons with very small attendants in all parts of the town, sometimes even to be intermixed with those who laboured in the business, yet nevertheless there hath not been observed so much as a murmuring word to fall from any; but, on the contrary, even those persons, whose losses rendered their condition most desperate, and to be fit objects of their prayers, beholding those frequent instances of his majes. ty's care for his people, forgot their own misery, and filled the streets with their prayers for his majesty, whuse trouble they seemed to compassionate before their own.
Observations. The philosophers, rhetoricians, and lawyers do agree, that all the circumstances of a fact are happily contained in a Latin verse framed for that purpose, as well to illustrate the method, which is the life of history, as to help the memory which is to reap the benefit of it; the verse runneth thus: Quis, quid, ubi, quibus auxiliis, cur, quomodo, quando
Who hath done it, what hath he done,