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As Seen and Described
Edited and Translated by
Dramas of Richard Wagner.”
First Edition, Published, September, 1902
THE CAXTON PRESS
N this work, which is a compilation of views and
impressions of the British metropolis, I have followed,
in some measure, the plan of my former book on Paris in selecting from a vast number of works descriptions of such external characteristics of the city as are recorded by travellers and famous native and foreign writers. In Paris, the selections, as a rule, are devoted to special monuments, while in this book they deal largely with general impressions of various sections of the great city. However, there will be found descriptions of many of the chief monuments, the streets, the squares, the parks, the old churches and civic buildings with associations, besides much interesting historical matter ; but I have almost entirely neglected including articles on the London of the past and have restricted myself to the London of the Nineteenth Century.
Comparatively few of those who are ready to admit the greatness of London and to whom the name alone suggests a wealth of romantic and historical interest, realize that the marvellous city on the Thames has special charms beneath its canopy of smoke and fog for the artist and lover of the picturesque. This quality has been insisted upon in the following pages, wherein much space has been given to the river, the docks and out-of-the-way nooks and corners that have aroused the enthusiastic admiration of many writers. The London fog, which is so much abused, as a rule, has its apologist and eulogist here. The immensity of the city is fully brought out in the brilliant essays of Mr. G. W.
Steevens and Sir Walter Besant, and the character of the various districts is revealed in many of the articles. Various types of Londoners are sketched in the extracts from the writings of Dickens, Gautier, Steevens and others.
It may be asked why more citations from Dickens and some from Thackeray are not included, but these great novelists who have described their London with such power and charm, have used their descriptions as backgrounds for their stories, and one cannot separate their pictures from their scenes with any degree of success.
The general plan I have followed is to begin in the East and follow the Thames westwards, stopping on the way to describe the most famous streets and monuments. The work will thus serve the purpose of an artistic and literary guide-book, which I hope will give a fairly comprehensive view of the city to those who know London by personal experience; to those who are planning a visit there; and to those who enjoy studying in their homes the great cities of the world from various points of view,-a study at once attractive and broadening, as it brings the student into relation with the art, the history and the contemporary life of other nations. While this work does not pretend to enter into competition with the enormous number of works upon London, its value consists in the collection of well-written essays, which I hope will prove useful and entertaining to the traveller and general reader.
My thanks are offered to the Century Company for kind permission to print extracts from Sir Walter Besant's East London.
New York, February, 1902.