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A FIRST WORD.

of May 1934

The following pictures of the varied phases of London life are presented to the public, not as finished performances challenging a critical judgment, but rather as selections from the random sketches of an observer accustomed to explore the metropolis occasionally with an eye to the picturesque either in costume or character. The several subjects have been delineated from different points of view, as suited the convenience or the whim of the writer, and the purposes of the different popular journals in which they originally appeared. Some of them are in the narrative form, and of those the framework has been necessarily fictitious; but they all embody such truths and facts of our metropolitan life as lie open to the discovery of any man who may choose to push inquiry and remark in the direction traced out by the author.

In making this selection from some hundreds of a similar description printed within the last few years, I I have been guided by the wish to amuse and interest the reader, while presenting to his consideration some materials for thought not discernible at all times

ours.

through the conventionalisms of a society so artificial as

The surface-view and the undercurrent of London life are the light and shade of the pictures here rudely sketched out; both are well worthy of attentive regard, and both offer a wide field for not unprofitable speculation ; but in this case, as in most others, that which coyly shrinks from the light of day and the prying eye of the investigator, best rewards the trouble of the search.

The metropolis of Britain, and of the world, is a literary mine, which a round number of workers with head and hand have been long quarrying out to the public advantage, and, it is to be hoped, to their own. I have had my share in the labour, and have no cause to be dissatisfied with the reward : if the public had not looked approvingly upon a former series of sketches not very dissimilar to these, I should not have presumed upon a second venture. With a grateful recollection of past favours I may be allowed to commend the present volume to their goodnatured sympathies.

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