THE CITIES OF LONDON AND WESTMINSTER, Copied from the Camera Obscura in the Royal Observatory at Greenwich. (Frontispiece.)
IT is impossible to conceive a more lively or more accurate view of the Metropolis than that which is given in this Plate. It embraces the whole of the grand outline, and every principal feature of London, together with that part of the Thames which exhibits most of that busy scene of navigation and commerce for which it is so highly celebrated. The view is taken from the Royal Observatory in Greenwich-park, and is actually copied from the table of the Camera Obscura there, by permission of the Astronomer Royal: speaking of which, Mr. Addison, in his Spectator, No. 414, says, "The prettiest landscape I ever saw was one drawn on the walls of a dark room at Greenwich, which stood opposite, on one side, to a navigable river, and on the other to a park. The experiment is very common in optics. Here you might discover the waves and fluctuations of the water in strong and proper colours, with the picture of a ship entering at one end, and sailing by degrees through the whole piece. On another there appeared the green shadows of trees waving to and fro with the wind, and herds of deer among them in miniature." — "The scene," says Dr. Blair, in his Critical Examination of the Style in the Spectator, "which Mr. Addison refers to is Greenwich-park, with the prospect of the Thames, as seen by a Camera Obscura, which is placed in a small room in the upper story of the Observatory; where I remember to have seen, many years ago, the whole scene here described, corresponding so much to Mr. Addison's account of it in this passage, that, at the time, it recalled it to my memory."
The foreground of the Plate is the foot of the park, beyond which is the town of Greenwich, the building with the flag being Greenwich-church. The town to the left is Deptford. The broad expanse of water to the right is the part of the Thames called Deptford Reach; in which is the King's yard, distinguished by a man of war on the stocks with flags flying, seen beyond the tower of Greenwich-church. Several men of war are seen in the lower part of the Reach.
On the right of the river is the Isle of Dogs, in which the West India Docks are situated. The manner in which the river winds may be partly traced in this view. The light line running through the centre of the Metropolis marks the course of the river, which winds, in a very luxuriant manner, from the western to the eastern extremity of the town; and, afterwards making a great sweep round the point outside of the right of the Plate, stretches again to the left, forming that part which is called Deptford Reach.
The church in the distance, and on the right, is Limehouse-church; and that which is nearer the Reach is Rotherhithe (usually called Redriff), on the south bank of the Thames. The next church is St. George's in the East. St. Paul's standing conspicuously in the centre; and Westminster-abbey, with its noble towers, at the extremity on the left; form bold and beautiful objects in this fine picture.
The beautiful pillar which rises to the right of St. Paul's is the Monument; and the extensive square building below, with its turrets, is the Tower of London. In the background, on the right of the picture, are seen the hills of Highgate and Hampstead, which rise in great beauty and grandeur, bounding the northern side of the town.