Rotherhithe Street, London, SE16. Photo ©RogerDean 2014
London: A Pilgrimage – Gustave Dore and Blanchard Jerrold, 1872:
In the heart of the city there is one outward form of feverish activity. Barter, speculation, vast enterprise, the sending forth of fleets, the sinking of mines, the negotiating of loans, the laying down of leagues of railway, the buying and selling of gold and silver, occupy the well-dressed multitudes. The clerk’s outward man has as prosperous a seeming as that of his employer who lives in the West, and has a duke for a next door neighbour. Behind many of the groups are very dismal shabby-genteel stories, no doubt; but nothing save prosperous, shiny broadcloth, glossy hats, and decorated button-holes are apparent in the street. Here are no pinched cheeks or ragged limbs, except when shadows from the East are slipping timorously through the golden realm, to earn a crust, or beg one, in the West. The abounding refreshment places, from the dark and greasy old gridiron chop-houses in the lanes, to the modern finery and luxury of lunch at the Palmerston, or in ancient Crosby Hall (one of the most picturesque bits of old and modern London massed and mingled in one pictures, as it struck my fellow pilgrim one busy morning), all are packed with hurrying men, eager to eat and drink, and confident about the wherewithal. London abounds in startling contrasts.
These stately arcades of the Royal Exchange, defaced, it must be admitted, by unsightly advertisements, with Her Majesty holding the centre of the Quadrangle; are but a few minutes’ walk from the Market, the Exchange, of rags! Here the princes of finance buy and sell thousands with a nod of the head; or lunch while they bid , at Lloyd’s, for an Australian clipper.