Esoteric London

No. 185: Whitecross Street, EC1

Posted in Lettering, Public Art, Shops by esotericlondon on November 12, 2010

Whitecross Street, London, EC1. Photo © Roger Dean 2010

The Little World of London – Charles Manby Smith, 1857:

The shop-windows of London have long formed the city’s principal attraction to strangers and visitors. Picture-galleries and museums present no points of interest that can compete with them in the estimation of the mass of our fellow-creatures. They are, in fact, open volumes, which he who runs may read, and the tale they tell is one of wonder and of wealth, of courage and daring, of hardship and perseverance, of danger, and difficulty and success. Whatever art has to glory in, or science to boast of; the shop-window exhibits to the admiration of mankind. To figure there is the climax of the most arduous labours and the highest emprise. It is for the shopkeeper that the navigator ploughs the seas, the traveller braves the African Desert, the Mexican labours in the mine, the swart Indian dives for pearls in the ocean depths. It is for him that the steam-engine pants, the lightning carries messages, and the sun paints pictures. He stands before the face of the world – the exponent of the worlds worth, of all that it has done and can do, of all that it has and is. He is the index of a nations industry, enterprise, and progress – the honoured and the honourable depository of the last and best creations of the divinest faculties with which God has endowed his human race. To be a nation of shopkeepers, then, is no dishonour, because it is to be a nation pre-eminent above all others in the possession and appreciation of all that man was formed to produce and to enjoy.

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