I pray you, let us satisfy our eyes
With the memorials, and the things of fame,
That do renown this city.
It was an afternoon walk for the stranger who thus desired to
see the reliques
of some ancient Dalmatian town, whose Roman monuments covered a few acres. But London! in what time shall we visit her
so as to
What amount of labour does it require to become acquainted with her
things of fame?
A week, or a month, may indeed enable us to
as true and as interesting lie perishing or hidden in dark corners; and there are
things of fame
in the meanest alleys. Their chief value, however, consists in the associations which they suggest; and these do not always lie upon the surface. To comprehend
London we must
make a stand upon the ancient way, and then look about us;
to be properly interested in
London we must turn from our old Chroniclers, and Topographers, and Poets, and Memoir-writers, and look upon its living scenes, ever changing in their outward forms, but essentially the slow growth of a long antiquity.
in this spirit
to produce A NEW WORK ON LONDON; and the principle which we have thus indicated of looking at the Present through the Past, and at the Past through the Present, requires that our Work shall be wholly different from any which has preceded it. It will neither be a
of London, nor a
of London. Its arrangement will neither be topographical nor chronological. It will not travel
with tedious steps and slow
from Portsoken Ward to
; nor begin at the beginning with King Lud, and end at the end with Queen Victoria. Nor will it, in point of fact, be ambitious of
classification. London, which Camden has called
totius Britanniae epitome
, is too vast a thing to be analysed, and sorted, and labelled,--at least in a book which will endeavour to combine amusement with information. The greatest and the meanest features of such a city lie mingled together, in the same way that the mightiest and the minutest works of Nature are presented to the observing eye. That traveller is to our minds the most faithful, the most entertaining, and perhaps the most scientific, who, whilst he is measuring the height of an Alpine mountain, makes himself familiar with the habits of the little marmot that burrows in its crevices.
The plan of publication which we shall adopt will also, in some degree,
character of the proposed work. We shall publish a
Sheet, devoted, for the most part, to some portion of the great total of London which shall be complete in itself. This subject must necessarily be of no abstract nature--no mere disquisition upon remote and lifeless matters-but something which
can be seen
, and thus copied for the reader's eye, or made more intelligible by the
OUR LONDON WILL BE PICTORIAL. The several artists of eminence who will be engaged upon this undertaking will labour upon a well-defined principle--that
of uniting to the imaginative power the strictest fidelity in every detail of Architecture and Costume
. In the same spirit will the writers work. The time is past when it was thought that what was accurate could not be amusing; and in the great subject before us, whether in its modern or its ancient aspects, the truest delineation will, unquestionably, be the most interesting.
Of the probable extent of this work the editor can at present form no very exact notion. It is the less necessary that he should do so, as every
, and every
, will be, as far as it goes, complete in itself. If the encouragement of the public should enable this work to be carried forward to something like a general completeness, its miscellaneous character may be reduced into system by chronological and topographical Indexes. But, as it proceeds, it will have all the charm of variety. For example:--A Memoir on the Maps of London for
centuries, showing the gradual spread of the great Babel, may fitly be in company with a picture of its locomotive facilities, through all the phases of Wherry, Sedan, Hackney Coach, Cabriolet, Omnibus, and Steam-Boat. We may linger about Smithfield, with its horse-races of the days of Henry II., its tournaments, its wagers of battle, its penances, its martyrdoms, its Bartholomew fairs, and its cattle-market, without feeling that any of its associations are incongruous or unworthy of description and reflection. The
Ghost is a matter of history as much as the records of that fatal Traitor's Gate of the Tower, over which might have been written the terrible words of Dante-
All hope abandon, ye who enter here.
The City Poet, with his tawdry Lord Mayor's state and doggrel verses, belongs to the social history of London as distinctly as the classical inventor of the Masques in which James and Charles delighted. The Christmas revels of the Lord of Misrule in the Temple, and the triumphant entry of Henry V. after the battle of Agincourt, have each had their historians, and they may each form episodes in our pages. Tempest drew from the life the Cries of London in the days of Anne, and they may be found in company with some account of Catnach's ballads in our day. The glorious picture-satires of Hogarth may tell us of a generation that is past, whilst the splendid caricatures of Gillray may slide into the generation that is present.
There are many aspects of Society in London which are not fit to be described; there are scenes, past and present, which are improper to be exhibited to the general eye. Those which a parent would not wish his child to look upon will never be delineated in this book. We shall not, however, from any false refinement, confine ourselves to what is the most agreeable. All reasoning beings should know that there is ;crime, and ignorance, and suffering, and sorrow, in such an immense city, as well as propriety, and elegance, and comfort, and pleasure.
But, by a careful attention to what we are and what we were--to our improvements, as well as to some things in which we begin to find out we have not improved-we may indirectly show how the condition of every Londoner is to be ameliorated; and how, by diminishing ignorance, we may diminish crime; and, by cultivating innocent pleasures, do something to drive out unlawful excitements.
We have a few observations to add. Such a work as we hope to produce may interest every English reader, whether he be a resident in London or in Australia. It treats of the largest city in the world,--whose inhabitants are in intercourse, commercial, political, or religious, with almost the whole human race,which has been the scene of the most stirring events of history,--which has been a city of progress from its
foundation,--which has sent forth its literature through
,centuries to the uttermost ends of the earth,--and which is full, therefore, not only of material monuments of the past, but of the more abiding memorials which exist in imperishable books. If the
is now but a waggoner's yard, with its accompanying liquor-shop and tap-room, we have Chaucer's immortal picture of
and its guests-
in a compagnie
Of sundry folk;
and he will tell us
The chambres and the stables weren wide.
has lost all its ancient characteristics in the improvements of
, Ludgate will show us that
Pewter pots they clattered on a heap-;
There was harp, pipe, and minstrelsy.
are covered with interminable rows of houses, Ben Jonson shall call to mind
the archers of Finsbury, or the citizens that come a-ducking to
be no longer green, Garrard, the gossiping correspondent of the great Lord Strafford, shall inform us of its
a-meal, continual bibbing arid drinking wine all day long under the trees, and
quarrels every week.
, with its Apollo Club, has perished, Squire Western's favourite song of
Old Sir Simon the King
shall bring back the memory of Simon Wadloe, its landlord, with Jonson is verses over the door of the Apollo Room. If the
no longer runs across
, Pope shall recall that polluted stream,--
Than whom no sluice of mud
With deeper sable blots the silver flood.
If the glories of White's, and Will's, and the Grecian, and the St. James's, have passed away, in the fall of Coffeehouses and the rise of Clubs,--if the stranger can no longer expect to walk without obstruction into a common room where wit is as current as tea and muffins, and a Dryden stands by the fire with a young Pope gazing upon him,--he may yet live in the social life of the days of Anne, and people the solitary Coffeehouses with imaginary Swifts, and Addisons, and Steeles.
Such, and so various, are the literary
memorials' of London; and these literary
are, in truth, amongst her best antiquities. As a
city of progress
, her material remains of the past are comparatively few; but the mightiest of the earth-those who have made our language immortal and universal-have dwelt within her walls, and their records have outlived brick and stone.
of observation, and reflection, and adequate knowledge, everything in London is
. In her
features we read the history of her
, and the description of her
present social state.
The things of fame
That do renown this city,
Churches, palaces, theatres, exhibitions, courts of justice, prisons, hospitals, parks, squares, streets, bridges, wharfs, docks, warehouses, markets, shops, factories, inns,--pavements, sewers, gas-lights, water-pipes,--post-offices, railroads, steam-boats, public carriages--have each their tale of that mighty stirring of Humanity which in its aggregate is a spectacle of real sublimity unequalled in the world. It is the more sublime and the more wonderful that all this masswith its manifold associations of Government, Municipal Arrangements, Police, Supply of Food, Population, Disease, Mortality, Industry, Wealth, Poverty, Crime, Religion, Charity, Education, Literature, Science, Arts, Amusements, Dress, Manners, Domestic Life--is ever-growing and ever-changing. While we are putting down the figures the facts are shifting. We shall not, therefore, trouble our readers with many figures. But the
aspects of London humanity are written in tolerably permanent characters, whether of the past or the present. It will be our duty sometimes to digest the abiding facts that are not likely to elude our vision or our grasp-sometimes to
Catch ere she flies the Cynthia of the minute.
If what is permanent, and what is fleeting, shall be found equally without attraction, the fault will be in ourselves and not in our subject. The interest of that subject we believe to be universal. The features of such a city, physical and moral, present and antiquarian, if truly and strikingly presented, are to be looked upon with interest and curiosity, by the stranger as well as the citizen who daily hears the sound of Bow-bell. London is not England, as Paris is said to be France; neither is she the head and England the body, as used to be set down, but she is so identified with the whole empire-she absorbs and returns again so much of the general prosperity--that what belongs to her belongs to all. To the
public, then, we offer, in confident hope of