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'Most of us love places very much as we may love what, for us, are the distinguished men of our social lives. [...] We are, all of us who are Londoners, paying visits of greater or less duration to a Personality that, whether we love it or very cordially hate it, fascinates us all. And, paying my visit, I have desired to give some such record. I have tried to make it anything rather than encyclopaedic, topographical, or archaeological. To use a phrase of literary slang I have tried to "get the atmosphere" of modern London -- of the town in which I have passed so many days; of the immense place that has been the background for so many momentous happenings to so many of my fellows.'
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