A Survey of London. Reprinted From the Text of 1603. Originally published by Clarendon, Oxford, 1908.
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TO THE RIGHT Honorable, Robert Lee
, Lord Mayor of the City of London, to the Comminalty, and Citizens of the same: Iohn Stow Citizen, wisheth long health and felicitie.
Since the first publishing of the perambulation of Kent, by that learned Gentleman William Lambert Esquier, I haue heard of sundry other able persons to haue (according to the desire of that author) assayed to do somewhat for the particular Shires and Counties where they were borne, or dwelt, of which none that I know (sauing Iohn Norden, for the Counties of Middlesex, and Hertford) haue vouchsafed their labor to the common good in that behalfe. And therefore concurring with the first, in the same desire to haue drawn together such speciall descriptions of each place, as might not onely make vp an whole body of the English Chorographie amongst our selues: but also might giue occasion, and courage to M. Camden to increase and beautify his singular work of the whole, to the view of the learned that be abroad. I haue attempted the discouery of London, my natiue soyle and Countrey, at the desire and perswasion of some my good friends, as well because I haue seene sundry antiquities my selfe touching that place, as also for that through search of Records to other purposes, diuers written helpes are come to my hands, which few others haue fortuned to meet withall, it is a seruice that most agreeth with my professed trauels. It is a dutie, that I willingly owe to my natiue mother and Countrey. And an office that of right I holde my selfe bound in loue to bestow vpon the politike body & members of the same: what London hath beene of auncient time, men may here see, as what it is now euery man doth beholde: I knowe that the argument, beeing of the chiefe and principall citie of the land, required the pen of some excellent Artisen, but fearing that none would attempt & finish it, as few haue assaied any, I chose rather (amongst other my Labours) to handle it after my playne manner, then to leave it vnperformed. Touching the Dedication I am not doubtfull where to seeke my Patrone, since you be a politique estate of the Citty, as the walles and buildinges be the materiall partes of the same. To you therefore, doe I addresse this my whole labour, as wel that by your authority I may bee protected, as warranted by your owne skill and vnderstanding of that which I haue written. I confesse that I lacked my desire to the accomplishment of some special parts, which some other of better abilitie promised to performe, but as I then professed, haue since out of mine olde Store-house added to this worke many rare notes of antiquitie, as may appeare to the reader, which I do afford in all dutie, and recommend to your view, my labours to your consideration, and my selfe to your seruice, during life, in this or any other.