- Museum number
- Object: Introduction of gas!! Or throwing a new light on the subject.
A London street scene. Pedestrians have collected to listen to an orator who stands in a wheelbarrow. The street has been disrupted by excavations for the laying of gas-pipes, two sections of which lie in the foreground. Men ply pickaxe and spade, another kneels to mix tar in a cauldron (left); the wheelbarrow, filled with debris, belongs to the excavators. The orator, Winsor, wears spectacles, and has a scraggy pigtail, with breeches and Hessian boots. In his coat-pocket is a paper: 'Charge for laying on the Gas £5—'. He stands in profile to the right, both arms extended, and says: "The Gas Light is the most surprizing of all modern discoveries, its brilliance can only be compared to the Blaze of a Meridian Sun!! For £3 a year we will supply you with a light strong enough to blind a Star Gazer! & a heat sufficient to boil a Tea Kettle or Roast an Ox!! Its national advantages are incalculable! it makes us independent of foreign resources, in the supply of Russian Tallow, Greenland Oil & other greasy articles!—The followers of this NEW LIGHT are not only secure from the depredations & waste of Servants but are no longer subject to a Variation in price & other impositions inseperable from the use of such filthy & stinking Commodities!!!" One of the audience turns to the right to address his neighbour, saying, "Dont believe what he says it's all Smoke—a Will o' the Wisp that will lead its followers into a Quagmire—" Another says: "It is not the True light—if the Tallow Chandlers Melt at such a doctrine they must all run away!!" A smartly dressed man on the right, his stockings and breeches plastered with dirt, holds up his coat-tails, and says angrily: "D—n your gas pipes say I! you are so frequently breaking up the pavement that there is no such thing as walking the Streets upon clean legs without a pair of Stilts!!" Five other persons stand in the group, a butcher's boy with his meat-tray being in front. One is a woman. A child has fallen into a trench (right) and screams for help. In the foreground a plank bridges a deep excavation. The adjacent shops belong to tradesmen ruined by the 'New Light'. A corner house on the extreme right is inscribed 'I. Dipfat / N° 1 / Manufacturer of / Cart Grease / late / Tallow Chandler'. On the corner is a large bill: 'Just Published a Treatise on the New light showing the fatal effects of the Gas upon the Lungs, the difficulty of respiration & an additional reason for coughing at all times in the year untill carried off by a Galloping Consumption'. Against the window stands a barrel inscribed 'Remainder of a Stock of Spermaceti Oil, to be sold at 2d pr Galln'. By this is a notice-board on a post: 'The Gas light Compy will give a premium to any person that can discover a Method to prevent the Subscribers to their New Light from being so often left in total darkness through the numerous accidents that happen to ye Pipes want of coals, or some other Casualty.' Behind is a dilapidated and shuttered shop inscribed 'This shop to lett'. It is that of 'W. Link Pickle Merct late Oil man'. Behind high double doors is a large building with two tall chimneys emitting black smoke, evidently the gas works. On the gate-post is a carved lion or dog, with flames issuing from its mouth.
Behind the orator (left) is a blank wall or hoarding, the upper part covered with bills.  'Theatre Royal—Speculation [comedy by F. Reynolds, 1795] with the Farce of The Wonderful Lamp—NB The Theatre will be lighted with Gas!!'  'Parish of St Brides Take notice that the Watchmen will in future carry Gas Lanthrons!!'  'The Lottery office Compy under the Royal Exchange are determined not to HAZARD the use of Candles & Oil any longer & have therefore resolv'd in future to BURN GAS that the public may see Clearly that they sell more Blanks than Prizes.'  'Garraways Coffee House—The Sales by Candle being exploded, all future bargains will be sold by GAS!!!'  'Charity Sermon Sunday Eveng NB the Chapel will be lighted with GAS!!!'  'Guildhall London—Grand Rehearsal of the GAS LIGHTS Novr 1815.'
- Production date
Height: 260 millimetres
Width: 358 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', IX, 1949)
For Winsor and his extravagant pamphlets and advertisements recommending gas, see No. 10798, &c. He supported the Light and Heat Company's application to Parliament for a charter. This was opposed by Brougham, as counsel for Murdock and Watt, and was rejected. The Westminster Gas Light and Coke Co. obtained their act of incorporation on 9 June 1810, and from this date their adviser was Samuel Clegg, not Winsor, who in 1815 went to Paris to found a gas-lighting company 'D.N.B.' On Lord Mayor's Day, 1815, the Guildhall was lit by gas: 'The profuse delicacies of the table—the waving feathers and sparkling jewels of the ladies—the mild splendour of the gas, shedding a brightness clear as summer's noon, but undazzling and soft as moonlight, altogether formed a magnificent combination. . .' 'Europ. Mag.' lxviii. 466. Two proprietors of a manufactory of gas in Dorset Street were indicted for a nuisance, 'an insufferable stench', and found guilty at the London Sessions on 18 Nov. 1815. 'Examiner', 1815, p. 767. The gas at Covent Garden Theatre and the ruin of 'Mr. Mould' (a candle-maker) are items in an article on 'Universal Discontent', ibid., 14 Jan. 1816. Damages were given in the King's Bench, 16 Feb. 1816, against the Gas Light Co. for the death of a horse, owing to the overturning of a gig by the unprotected rubbish from a street excavation. Ibid., 1816, p. 111.
Reid, No. 452. Cohn, No. 1240.
Name 'J. Sidebotham' in the inscription almost erased.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number