Excerpt from The Criminal Prisons of London, and Scenes of Prison Life
In short, London may be safely asserted to be the most densely-populated city in all the world - containing one-fourth more people than Pekin, and two-thirds more than Paris; more than twice as many as Constantinople; four times as many as St. Petersburg; five times as many as Vienna, or New York, or Madrid; nearly seven times as many as Berlin; eight times as many as Amsterdam; nine times as many as Rome; fifteen times as many as Copenhagen; and seventeen times as many as Stockholm?
Surely then London, being, as we have shown, more numerously peopled than any single province - and, indeed, than many an entire State - may be regarded as a distinct world; and, in accordance with this view, Addison has spoken of the British Metropolis as composed of different races like a world, instead of being made up of one cognate family like a town.
When I consider this great city, he says,1 in its several quarters or divisions, I look upon it as an aggregate of' various nations, distinguished from each other by their respective customs, manners, and interests. The courts of two countries do not so much differ from one another as the Court and City of London in their peculiar ways of life and conversation. In short, the inhabitants of St. James's, notwithstanding they live under the same laws and speak the same language, are a distinct people from those of Cheapside, by several climates and degrees, in their ways of thinking and conversing together.
Viewing the Great Metropolis, therefore, as an ab solute world, Belgravia and Bethnal Green become the opposite poles of the London sphere - the frigid zones, as it were, of the Capital; the one icy cold from its exceeding fashion, form, and ceremony; and the other wrapt in a perpetual winter of withering poverty. Of such a world, Temple Bar is the unmistakable equator, dividing the City hemisphere from that of the West End, and with a line of Banks, representative of the Gold Coast, in its immediate neighbourhood. What Greenwich, too, is to the merchant seamen of England, Charing Cross is to the London cabmen - the zero from which all the longitudes of the Metropolitan world are measured.
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