I have so fully revised the articles which form the substance of the following pages, that the volume I now submit to public consideration, is essentially new matter. The very fact that I aimed at a newspaper article in the first instance, and at a book in the second, will doubtless plead my apology for the alterations I have made. In writing for the "East London Observer", I occasionally mentioned my suspicion that the reports one hears as to the vile condition of East London were at least questionable. But in the following pages I have gone into this matter fully, and have plainly stated - open of course to criticism and correction - that it is not such as it is represented, by those who speak of it as in an exceptionally bad state. On the contrary, with testimony before me leading to the conclusion, I have stated, - producing evidence which I trust is sufficient, - that in many respects East London stands entitled to a higher place than other divisions in public esteem ; and that unless all seaports and manufacturing towns are to be regarded as merely mission fields in religious matters, and places for little else than philanthropic effort in things social, this locality must not be spoken of or treated as if it were a part of some uncivilized country, or one in which heathenism prevails.

In taking this attitude I have no desire to excite acrimony; at the same time, it has become necessary to say in the interest not only of truth but of progress, that unless it be in a condition justitying such treatment, the name of this portion of the metropolis may not with impunity be allowed to become a synonyme for a begging letter, be the consequences of attempting to protect it from such a fate what they may to my book.

But having given in the way of explanation an ntroduction of some considerable length, I will only add that, conscious of their many defects, I offer these pages as a service in the interests not only of those engaged in East London Industries - whether as capitalists, or work people - but also as one in vindication of a portion of the inhabitants of this metropolis, who have been, and still are, to no small extent, misunderstood.

If this work accomplishes the purpose I desire, it will contribute to one of two things, viz.: it will either draw such attention to the state of East London, as will lead to its condition being more correctly understood; or it will arouse its inhabitants to some such expression of self respect, as will render their being misrepresented so much, if at all, impracticable. In any case, I trust its publication may become an occasion of good, and that its perusal may not fail to be instructive, and possibly interesting to all my readers.

Since the foregoing was written Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen has consented to open the Grocers' Wing of the London Hospital.

This auspicious and important event, happening at the time these pages are passing through the press, suggests that I ought to give it a prominent place and for this purpose, I have added an Appendix in which the substance of an article in support of the claims of the London Hospital, which I recently contributed to the East London Observer, is given, as well as an account of the ceremony of opening. I feel as if before my book can be in the hands of the public, a most important step will have been taken in the accomplishment of the chief end for which it has been published, namely, the breaking down of the inexplicable prejudice existing in the public mind against everything to be found, and all persons residing, East of Temple Bar. The visit of Her Majesty will assuredly become an occasion of drawing Belgravia towards Bow, and letting Clapham and Hampstead see that Whitechapel, Stratford, and Shadwell, are places of just as much importance, however different in some respects, as any other in the metropolis. But while this and other important results will attend as consequences the Royal visit to East London, it will still remain for its people, as pointed out in these pages, to do their utmost to show, that being able, they are also willing to play their part in all that is necessary in upholding the dignity and promoting the progress and prosperity of London, as a whole. On the public at large it also devolves all the more inexcusably because of this event, to follow the example of the Sovereign as far as possible; and while she patronizes, let them both sentimentally and in word and deed do East London and its people simple justice.

That the date of this visit will more or less prove an epoch in the annals of the locality is beyond reasonable doubt. But if it is to be allowed to bear its fruit fully, it must be looked upon at once as an example with all the force given it by an act of the Sovereign, and as an opportunity of discussing the important question, 'What position is East London and its inhabitants to occupy in the metropolis? at a moment when the place and the people are before common observation in every corner of the country.

In one word, my apology for this addition to my Preface and the introduction of an Appendix is that I desire to take advantage of the Queen's visit to press home the great idea of my book, namely, the statement of such matters of fact as must so influence the public as to draw closer the bonds which bind the several portions of the metropolis together in one, whilst their propagation must also in some degree disabuse the public mind of the gratuitious assumption so prevalent, that East London is a degraded place, and that its people isolate themselves by the low tone of their civilisation. The disgrace of this position rests far less upon the people of East London than on the public at large; and therefore in pressing the facts of this case so strongly, I am not the special advocate of that locality so much as a sincere and persistent testimony bearer in behalf of certain truths, which I now earnestly and respectfully submit to the enlightened consideration of my readers.


London, March, 1876.

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