The Waters serving this City. The New River. 26

The Waters serving this City. The New River.

For, if those Enemies to all good Endeavours, Danger, Difficulty, Impossibility, Detraction, Contempt, Scorn, Derision, yea, and Desperate Despite, could have prevailed by their accursed and malevolent Interposition, either before, at the Beginning, in the very Birth of proceeding, or in the least stollen Advantage of the whole Prosecution; this Work of so great Worth had never been accomplished.

Malignant Enemies to all honest and commendable Actions.

I am not ignorant of an Act of Parliament, granted by Queen Elizabeth of blessed Memory, to her Citizens of London, for cutting and conveying a River from any Part of Middlesex or Hertfordshire, to the City of London, with a Limitation of ten Years Time for the Performance thereof: But the Expiration of her Royal Life sooner came, than any such Matter would be undertaken.

Acts for bringing Water into the City, without Effect.

Also our late Gracious Sovereign King James pleased to grant the like Act (but without any Date of Time) for the same Effect: And when all else refused, Mr. Middleton undertook it, to bring his intended River from Chadwell and Amwell, to the North side of London, near Islington, where he builded a large Cistern to receive it.

The Work began the 20th Day of February, Anno Dom. 1608, and in Five Years Space was fully accomplished. Concerning the Conveyance of it along to London, from Chadwell and Amwell, I my self (by Favour of the Gentlemen) did divers times ride to see it, and diligently observed, that admirable Art, Pains and Industry were bestowed for the Passage of it, by reason that all Grounds are not of a like nature, some being oozy and very muddy, others again as stiff, craggy and stony.

When the Work began at first.

Finished in Five Years.

The Depth of the Trench (in some places) descended full Thirty Foot, if not more; whereas (in other places) it required as sprightful Art again, to mount it over a Valley in a Trough, between a Couple of Hills, and the Trough all the while born up by wooden Arches: some of them fixed in the Ground very deep, and rising in Heighth above Twenty three Foot.

The ingenious Conveying of the River in some Places.

Being brought to the intended Cistern, but not (as yet) the Water admitted Entrance thereinto; on Michaelmass Day, Anno 1613, being the Day when Sir Thomas Middleton, Knight, (Brother to the said Mr. Hugh Middleton) was elected Lord Maior of London for the Year ensuing: In the Afternoon of the same Day, Sir John Swinerton, Knight, and Lord Maior of London, accompanied with the said Sir Thomas, Sir Henry Mountague, Knight, and Recorder of London, and many of the worthy Aldermen, rode to see the Cistern, and first issuing of the River thereinto; which was performed in this manner:

The Lord Maior and Aldermen rode to see the Cistern.

A Troop of Labourers, to the Number of Sixty, or more, well apparelled, and wearing Green Monmouth Caps, all alike, carried Spades, Shovels, Pickaxes, and such like Instruments of laborious Employment, marching after Drums twice or thrice about the Cistern, presented themselves before the Mount, where the Lord Maior, Aldermen, and a worthy Company beside, stood to behold them; and one Man (in behalf of all the rest) delivered this Speech.

The Workmen in the Cistern.

The Speech at the Cistern, according as it was delivered to me.


LOng have we labour'd, long desir'd and pray'd
For this great Works Perfection; And by th' Aid
Of Heaven, and good Mens Wishes, 'tis at length
Happily conquer'd by Cost, Art and Strength.
And after Five Years dear Expence in Days,
Travail and Pains, beside the infinite ways
Of Malice, Envy, false Suggestions,
Able to daunt the Spirits of mighty ones
In Wealth and Courage: This, a Work so rare,
Only by one Man's Industry, Cost and Care,
Is brought to blest Effect, so much withstood;
His only Aim, the Cities general Good.
And where (before) many unjust Complaints,
Enviously seated, caused oft Restraints,
Stops, and great Crosses, to our Masters Charge,
And the Works Hindrance: Favour now at large
Spreads it self open to him, and commends
To Admiration both his Pains and Ends:
The Kings most gracious Love. Perfection draws
Favour from Princes, and (from all) Applause.
Then worthy Magistrates, to whose Content,
(Next to the State) all this great Care was bent,
And for the publick Good, (which Grace requires)
Your Loves and Furtherance chiefly he desires,
To cherish these Proceedings, which may give
Courage to some that may hereafter live,
To practise Deeds of Goodness, and of Fame,
And gladly light their Actions by his Name.
Clerk of the Work, reach me the Book to show,
How many Arts from such a Labour flow.

First, Here's the Overseer, this try'd Man,
An ancient Soldier, and an Artizan.
The Clerk, next him, Mathematician,
The Master of the Timber-work takes place
Next after these; the Measurer, in like case,
Bricklayer, and Engineer; and after those,
The Borer and the Pavier. Then it shows
The Labourers next; Keeper of Amwell-head,
The Walkers last: So all their Names are read.
Yet these but Parcels of Six Hundred more,
That (at one time) have been employ'd before.
Yet these in sight, and all the rest will say,
That all the Week they had their Royal Pay.
Now, for the Fruits then: Flow forth, precious Spring,
So long and dearly sought for, and now bring
Comfort to all that love thee: Loudly sing,
And with thy Crystal Murmurs strook together,
Bid all thy true Well-wishers welcome hither.

All this he readeth in the Clerk's Book.

At the letting open of the Sluice.

At which Words the Floodgates flew open, the Stream ran gallantly into the Cistern, Drums and Trumpets sounding in triumphal manner; and a brave Peal of Chambers gave full Issue to the intended Entertainment.]

This New River is of general Good to this great City; serving above 3000 Houses, [now rather 30000] Three Days every Week. The first Undertaker, as was said before, was Sir Hugh Middleton, who for Five Years carried it on at an excessive Charge, employing several Hundred Men to cut and make the River from the Spring Heads of Amwell and Chadwell, near Ware in Hertfordshire, unto the Cistern Head at Islington, which in a winding Course is about Sixty Miles. And from the said Cistern, the Water is dispersed in large wooden Pipes into most Streets, and from them Leaden Pipes are fixed, to convey the Water into Houses of such as become Tenants to the Company, or Proprietors.

R. B.

And for the better Management of this great Undertaking, the Sharers do elect certain of them as a Committee, to manage Affairs every Week at their Office by Brokenwharf in London, as well to grant Leases, appoint Officers, as to hear Grievances, and to take care about the mending of the Pipes.]

But before this New River Water was thus brought for the Supply of the City, the Projecting for the Conveniency of Water from the North side of the City was not out of the Heads of the Citizens. For about the Year Fifteen Hundred Eighty and odd, (as I conceive it) there was one Russel, who propounded to bring Istelworth, viz.

Design of bringing Istelworth to London.

J. S.

MSS. penes me.