HAUNTED LONDON Annotated Walter Thornbury

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HAUNTED LONDON Annotated  by  Walter Thornbury

HAUNTED LONDON Annotated by Walter Thornbury
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This book deals less with the London of the ghost-stories, the scratchingimpostor in Cock Lane, or the apparition of Parson Ford at the Hummums,than with the London consecrated by manifold traditions--a city everystreet and alley of which teems withMoreThis book deals less with the London of the ghost-stories, the scratchingimpostor in Cock Lane, or the apparition of Parson Ford at the Hummums,than with the London consecrated by manifold traditions--a city everystreet and alley of which teems with interesting associations, everypaving-stone of which marks, as it were, the abiding-place of some ancientlegend or biographical story- in short, this London of the present hauntedby the memories of the past.The slow changes of time, the swifter destructions of improvement, and theinevitable necessities of modern civilisation, are rapidly remodellingLondon.It took centuries to turn the bright, swift little rivulet of the Fleetinto a fœtid sewer, years to transform the palace at Bridewell into aprison- but events now move faster: the alliance of money with enterprise,and the absence of any organised resistance to needful though sometimesreckless improvements, all combine to hurry forward modern changes.If an alderman of the last century could arise from his sleep, he wouldshudder to see the scars and wounds from which London is now suffering.Viaducts stalk over our chief roads- great square tubes of iron lie heavyas nightmares on the breast of Ludgate Hill.

In Finsbury and Blackfriarsthere are now to be seen yawning chasms as large and ghastly as any thatbreaching cannon ever effected in the walls of a besieged city. On everyhand legendary houses, great men’s birthplaces, the haunts of poets, thescenes of martyrdoms, and the battle-fields of old factions, heave andtotter around us.

The tombs of great men, in the chinks of which thenettles have grown undisturbed ever since the Great Fire, are now beinguprooted. Milton’s house has become part of the _Punch_ office. A printingmachine clanks where Chatterton was buried.

Almost every moment somebuilding worthy of record is shattered by the pickaxes of ruthlesslabourers. The noise of falling houses and uprooted streets even now in myears tells me how busily Time, the Destroyer and the Improver, is working-erasing tombstones, blotting out names on street-doors, battering downnarrow thoroughfares, and effacing one by one the memories of the good,the bad, the illustrious, and the infamous.A sincere love of the subject, and a strong conviction of the importanceof the preservation of such facts as I have dredged up from the Sea ofOblivion, have given me heart for my work.

The gradual changes of OldLondon, and the progress of civilisation westward, are worth noting by allstudents of the social history of England. It will be found that manytraits of character, many anecdotes of interest, as illustratingbiography, are essentially connected with the habitations of the great menwho have either been born in London, or have resorted to it as the centreof progress, art, commerce, government, learning, and culture.

The fact ofthe residence of a poet, a painter, a lawyer, or even a rogue, at anydefinite date, will often serve to point out the social status he eitheraimed at or had acquired. It helps also to show the exact relativedistinctions in fashion and popularity of different parts of London atparticular epochs, and contributes to form an illustrated history ofLondon, proceeding not by mere progression of time, and dealing with theabstract city--the whole entity of London--but marching through streetafter street, and detailing local history by districts at a time.



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