"A London Particular"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Esther Summerson has been reared by a woman, Miss Barbary, who calls herself the girl's godmother, but who is really her aunt. Esther is an illegitimate child, the issue of a love affair between Miss Barbary's sister and a Captain Hawdon. Ashamed of her sister's sin and of the child's existence, her guardian never tells her of her parents and forces her to live a cheerless life. Miss Barbary's death frees Esther from fourteen years of close confinement, and she spends the next six years leading a more normal life at a private school. When she is twenty, her benefactor, John Jarndyce, brings her to London to serve as companion to his young cousin, Ada Clare. Esther, who has never known anything but the quiet life of the counties, is overwhelmed at her first sight of London, and especially by the dense, dirty fog which fills the streets. The man who had come to welcome her tells her that it is a peculiar characteristic of the city.

. . . I asked him whether there was a great fire anywhere? For the streets were so full of dense brown smoke that scarcely anything was to be seen.
"O dear no, miss," he said. "This is a London particular."
I had never heard of such a thing.
"A fog, miss," said the young gentleman.