Both Wordsworth, in book VII of his long autobiographical poem The Prelude, and Dickens, in his essay about walking the streets at night, are focused on London in all its vast diversity. They both come as writers and observers, rather than participants, each with an eye to noting the details of the scenes before them. Both marvel at what Wordsworth calls:
Thou endless stream of men and moving things!
Both mention the poor and the disabled. Wordsworth notes the "cripples" with missing legs and
The begging scavenger, with hat in hand
Dickens notes the plight of homeless children, stating:
But one of the worst night sights I know in London, is to be found in the children who prowl about this place; who sleep in the baskets, fight for the offal.
He says, however, that poverty is not his focus on his night wanderings, stating:
I knew well enough where to find Vice and Misfortune of all kinds, if I had chosen; but they were put out of sight, and my houselessness had many miles upon miles of streets in which it could, and did, have its own solitary way.
Since neither man wants his focus to be solely on the poor, both spend more time on ordinary sights and the vast diversity of the city. Wordsworth notes how people of all nationalities and ethnicities, from Chinese to African, throng the streets. He writes of different types of people, such as "the Italian, as he thrids [threads] his way with care...".
Dickens also tries to encompass a sense of the entire city at night and what it is like as it awakens in the first dawn:
The great waggons of cabbages, with growers' men and boys lying asleep under them, and with sharp dogs from market-garden neighbourhoods looking after the whole, were as good as a party.
A difference is that Dickens records only a few nights of sleeplessness spent wandering the city streets, while Wordsworth is recalling several years of his youth and discussing theater-going and grand buildings as well the common folk on the streets. Another difference is that while Dickens is simply commenting on the sights he sees and the energy of London at night, Wordsworth ties the city back to his larger theme that nature is the highest good. Defying the country/city dichotomy that often permeates Romantic works (such as in William Blake), he notes (a sign of praise) the spirit of nature and beauty in London:
The Spirit of Nature was upon me there;
The soul of Beauty and enduring Life
Vouchsafed her inspiration, and diffused,
Through meagre lines and colours, and the press
Of self-destroying, transitory things,
Composure, and ennobling Harmony.