James Governor's Monkchips

Henry James and Samuel Johnson on London and Twitter

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Magic City by London Shop Fronts
Magic City by London Shop Fronts

I saw a tweet from @glynmoody today, referring to a link at the Londonist.”It is difficult to speak adequately or justly of London. It is not a pleasant place; it is not agreeable, or cheerful, or easy, or exempt from reproach. It is only magnificent. You can draw up a tremendous list of reasons why it should be insupportable. The fogs, the smoke, the dirt, the darkness, the wet, the distances, the ugliness, the brutal size of the place, the horrible numerosity of society, the manner in which this senseless bigness is fatal to amenity, to convenience, to conversation, to good manners – all this and much more you may expatiate upon. You may call it dreary, heavy, stupid, dull, inhuman, vulgar at heart and tiresome in form. I have felt these things at times so strongly that I have said – ”Ah London, you too then are impossible?” But these are occasional moods; and for one who takes it as I take it, London is on the whole the most possible form of life. I take it as an artist and as a bachelor; as one who has the passion of observation and whose business is the study of human life. It is the biggest aggregation of human life – the most complete compendium of the world.”

— Henry James

Great stuff. I am reminded of the great phrase from Samuel Johnson:

“Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
— Samuel Johnson

These days of course there is no need to visit the coffee shops of London to take part in all of these conversations. Just up periscope. Twitter is the new London.

One comment

  1. @bryanveloso Nice meeting up, I was however crudely trying to get at these quotes on London: http://bit.ly/Y02PX Cheers!
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

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