By Jerry White
London within the eighteenth century used to be a brand new urban, risen from the ashes of the good fireplace of 1666 that had destroyed part its houses and nice public structures. The century that used to be an period of energetic enlargement and large-scale tasks, of speedily altering tradition and trade, as large numbers of individuals arrived within the shining urban, drawn by way of its sizeable wealth and tool and its many diversions. Borrowing a word from Daniel Defoe, Jerry White calls London “this nice and colossal thing,” the grandeur of its new structures and the glitter of its excessive lifestyles shadowed through poverty and squalor.
A nice and immense Thing bargains a street-level view of the town: its public gardens and prisons, its banks and brothels, its workshops and warehouses—and its bustling, jostling crowds. White introduces us to shopkeepers and prostitutes, women and men of style and genius, street-robbers and thief-takers, as they play out the excellent drama of existence in eighteenth-century London. What emerges is an image of a society fractured by way of geography, politics, faith, history—and particularly through category, for the divide among wealthy and terrible in London used to be by no means larger or extra harmful within the smooth period than in those years.
regardless of this gulf, Jerry White exhibits us Londoners going approximately their company as bankers or beggars, reveling in an enlarging global of public pleasures, indulging in crimes either nice and small—amidst the tightening sinews of energy and legislation, and the hesitant beginnings of London democracy.