Geography and Travel. 1029: Anon., The Curiosities of London
||The curiosities of London; containing a descriptive and entertaining sketch of the British metropolis, for the amusement of youth. Ornamented with numerous superb engravings
||No date but c.1810
||Thomas Tegg, 111 Cheapside
||1 vol., 35pp.
||13.5 x 8.5 cm
||Frontispiece and five further full-page engravings and some small incidental cuts.
||See also 1026-1028
Images of all pages of this book Note: these have NOT been verified or catalogued. Use with care.
Unlike Newbery's original Curiosities of London and Westminster (see 1026-1028), Tegg's reworking of the form begins with London's geographical vital statistics. The city's latitude and longitude are given, for instance, and the reader is informed that the 'length of London from Hyde Park Corner to Poplar, is about seven miles'. London is healthful, we read, though with neither as settled nor as temperate a climate as some other parts of the world. And the river is seldom more than a quarter of a mile broad, nor deeper than 12 feet. Tegg's version, then, is less of a guidebook than Newbery's had been, and has more in common with the standard geography text-books which had been published throughout the eighteenth century for educational purposes. However, what follows this rather Gradgrindian opening is more like the entertaining, descriptive account favoured by Newbery. The usual sights are described - The Tower of London, St. Paul's Cathedral, the Guildhall, East India House - although Tegg's edition gives prominence to London's bridges. Westminster Bridge and Blackfriar's Bridge are approved of, but there is no doubting, we read, that London Bridge should be replaced as soon as possible.
Overall, London is characterised as affluent, neat and comfortable but not grandiose. It is also the centre of a vast trading network. 'Most of the great streets, appropriated to shops for retail trade, have an unrivalled aspect of wealth and splendour', we read. And 'London abounds with markets, warehouses, and shops, for all articles of necessity or luxury; and, perhaps, there is no town in which an inhabitant, who possesses the universal medium of exchange, can be so freely supplied as here with the produce of nature or art, from every quarter of the globe.' (p.8)