It extends, from west to east, along the banks of the river Thames; at the distance of 60 miles from the sea. It consists of three principal divisions; the city of London; the city of Westminster; and the borough of Southwark, with their respective suburbs. The two former divisions are situated on the northern side of the Thames, in the county of Middlesex, great part of them lying on hills, and forming a grand and beautiful amphitheatre round the water; the latter, on the southern bank, in the county of Surry, on level ground, antiently an entire morass.
The length of London is about seven miles, exclusive of houses that on each side line the principal roads to the distance of several miles in every direction: the breadth is irregular; being, at the narrowest part, not more than two miles; and, at the broadest, almost four miles. The soil is chiefly a bed of gravel, in many places mixed with clay. The air and climate are neither so constant nor temperate as in some other parts of the world; yet London is, perhaps, the most healthy city of Europe, from a variety of circumstances we shall have occasion soon to notice. The tide in the river flows 15 miles higher than London; but the water is not salt in any part of the town, and it is naturally very sweet and pure. The river is secured in its channels by embankments, where it does not touch the foot of the hills. When it is not swelled by the tide or rains, the river is not more than a quarter of a mile broad, nor in general more than 12 feet in depth; at spring tides it rises 12, and sometimes 14 feet above this level, and its breadth is increased to something more than a quarter of a mile. The principal streets are wide and airy; and exceed every thing in Europe, for the convenience of trade, and for the accommodation of passengers of every description: they are paved in the middle, for carriages, with large stones, in a very compact manner, forming a small convexity to pass the water off by channels; and at each side is a broad level path, formed of flags, raised a little above the center, for the convenience of foot passengers. Underneath the pavement, are large vaulted channels called sewers, which communicate with each house by smaller ones, and with every street by convenient openings and gratings, to carry off all filth that can be conveyed in that manner, into the river. All mud or other rubbish that accumulates on the surface of the streets is taken away by persona employed by the public for the purpose. London does not excel in the number of buildings celebrated for grandeur or beauty; but in all the principal streets, this metropolis is distinguished by an appearance of neatness and comfort. Most of the great streets appropriated to shops for retail trade, have an unrivalled aspect of wealth and splendor. The shops themselves are handsomely fitted up, and decorated with taste ; but the manufactures with which they are stored form their chief ornament. London abounds with markets, warehouses, and shops, for all articles of necessity or pleasure ; 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.
Most of the houses in London are built on a uniform plan. They consist of three or four stories above ground, with one under the level of the streets, containing the kitchens. In each story is a large room in front, and in the back is a small room, and the space occupied by the staircase. Water is conveyed, three times a week, into almost every house, by leaden pipes, and preserved in cisterns or tubs, in such quantities, that the inhabitants have a constant and even lavish supply. Nothing can be more commodious or cleanly than the interior of the houses; and this character extends generally to lodging-hotels, taverns, coffee-houses, and other like places.
London is less populous, for its extent, than many other great cities. The streets are wider, and the inhabitants of every class, below the highest rank, enjoy more room for themselves and families than is usual for the same classes in foreign countries; not only she merchant, the wealthy trader, and persons in liberal employments, occupy each an entire house, but most shopkeepers of the middling class, and some even of the lowest, have their houses to themselves; and from all these circumstances his plain, that a given number of people is spread over a larger space in London, than in most foreign cities. Every mode of calculating she inhabitants of London is uncertain, and the result varies, in different hands, from 600,000 to 1,200,000. A comparison of the various calculations, and an examination of their data, induce us to state the population at 800,000. Those who think the honour of London affected by taking the population at a lower number than the popular opinion, will recollect, that it is creditable to the manners of the country, and the equity of the laws, that the middling and lower classes in London occupy the extent of ground that is ascribed to them by our calculation."
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