The London Miscellany: A Nineteenth Century Scrapbook

The London Miscellany: A Nineteenth Century Scrapbook

The London Miscellany: A Nineteenth Century Scrapbook

The London Miscellany: A Nineteenth Century Scrapbook

Excerpt

I could not hope to vie with those felicitous phrases with which Mr. Charles Knight introduced his London Weekly sheets to a waiting world in 1842. I do therefore that which is most proper to a scissors and paste practitioner, and borrow phrases from Mr. Knight's persuasive prose.

It will be neither a 'Survey' nor a 'History' of London claimed Mr. Knight for his many volumes, and I can at least say that. Those who look in these pages for a chronological record of London during the nineteenth century should now close these pages; those who look for an actuarial report upon the growth of the great wen will look in vain for many maps and statistics. Rather, the compiler of this miscellany has the same modest object as Mr. Knight himself: to combine information with amusement. To do this in two hundred and fifty-odd pages is certainly possible to the scrapbook maker, but what of the scrapbook browser? He or she will probably have other ideas concerning information and amusement. There is, then, only one possible course: to compile your own nineteenth century scrapbook -- if London and that strange period hold you as intriguingly as they hold me.

After all, a scrapbook is a personal affair. But others are usually unusually interested in its inconsequential scrappiness. Others have been interested in these records. They incline towards what, I suppose, the Georgians and Victorians regarded as factual, circumstantial narrative. Because they did not strive for big effects and bright colours, so now, at this later date, they seem to have achieved them.

Looking through the pages again I find that my interest in newspapers, the magnificent efforts of Mr. Nash, the oddities of industrial design and the career of Lord Beaconsfield is shown fairly . . .

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