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'I pray you, let us satisfy our eyes
That do ren wn 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 'memorials,' so as to satisfy our cyes?' 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 see those ' reliques' which every one sees; but 'memorials' 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 modern London we must ‘make a stand upon the ancient way, and then look about us ;' to be properly interested in ancient 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.
We propose 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 'Survey' of London, nor a ' History' of London. Its arrangement will neither be topographical nor chronological. It will not travel with tedious steps and slow' from Portsoken Ward to Westminster; 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 any classification. London, which Camden has called totius Britanniæ 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 inost 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, deter
mine the miscellaneous character of the proposed work. We shall publish a Weekly 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 graphic art. 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 imaginatire 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 number, every part, and every volume, 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 three 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 Cock-Lane 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 coinfort, and pleasure.