- Museum number
- Object: March of Intellect
Above the design: '"Lord how this world improves as we grow older.' A complicated design, foreground, middle distance, and sky filled with incidents, chiefly on applications of steam. In the foreground is a street-vendor's table spread with a white cloth and heaped with pine-apples, &c; beside it sits an elegant young woman reading a book, 'Sentimen . . .', while a little boy holds over her a large pagoda-like umbrella, heavily fringed. A dustman gnaws a pine-apple, while his vis-à-vis, eating an ice, says 'Vont you take a hice Joe.' Beside it (left) is the tombstone of the 'Select Vestry', decorated with glass, knife and fork, and topped by a weeping cherub's head. On the right a steam-horse on a low-wheeled platform, on which are the necessary pipes, &c, careers forwards and to the right; the driver, dressed as a jockey, holds a steering-bar set in the creature's head; smoke pours from its nostrils; a huge smoking chimney, placarded 'The Steam Horse VELOCITY No Stopage on the Road', ascends from the tail. Behind the steersman sit four passengers: a lady in a riding-habit, a barrister in wig and gown, a well-dressed man, an Irish haymaker smoking a pipe. On the left is a little steam trolley beside which walks a woman crying 'Delicate Viends [sic] for your Quadrupeds'; on it is a basket of coal placarded 'Prime Cats Meat'. On the extreme left a footman in livery smoking a giant pipe (as in BM Satires No. 15604t) hands a letter to a flying postman, supported on webbed wings, who rings his bell, and has a pouch: 'Two Penny Post'. A man drives a lady in a light three-wheeled chair, worked by bellows and a propeller. A street-seller of 'Mutton Broth' walks before his huge steaming pan which rests on a wheeled platform with a funnel. A massive old-fashioned country wagon has a steam funnel and a steersman: 'London & Bath in Six Hours'. On the extreme right are adjacent open sheds; one contains a complicated mechanism where a top-boot is being brushed by steam; the owner sits on his portmanteau, waiting for them, while he puffs a cigar and reads the 'Gazette de France'. This is placarded 'Royal Patent Boot Cleaning Engine'; above: 'Puras Deus, Non Plenas, Adspicit Manus' [God regards only pure hands, not full ones]. The other is smaller and contains an engine to which is attached a huge razor, operating on the Duchess of St. Albans and placarded 'The St Al—ns New Steam Razor Patronized by her Grace' [cf. BM Satires No. 15654, &c.].
In the middle distance (left) are buildings. The Marble Arch (see BM Satires No. 15850), topped by a gibbet, which is placarded 'Designed to Elevate the Architects'; a man, smoking a cigar, kneels to adjust the noose. Behind is the east front of the Palace, with scaffolding and figures: on the dome, "the ball in the cup", see BM Satires No. 15669, a figure holds a trident, on the right a monstrous bird and a giraffe see BM Satires No. 15425). Next the arch is a 'Model for a new Church approved by the Mommitte [sic] of Taste': a fantastic neo-Gothic hybrid with a dome, topped by pillars supporting a platform, from which hangs a big bell, and on which squats a giant mandarin, with a clock-face on its belly, holding up two fingers and a lantern. The roof of the church is flat, covered with tombs, and edged with spikes for the protection of a cemetery, which is placarded 'This Church Yard is perfectly Safe' [see BM Satires No. 15777]; a coffin is being hauled up by a crane, apparently worked by steam. A smaller adjacent building (left) seemingly houses a furnace and steam-engine and is inscribed 'Kitchen'. The church abuts (right) on 'Greenwich Hill'; on this rests one end of a huge tube: 'Grand Vacuum Tube-Company Direct to Bengal' (a development of the Edinburgh-London tube of BM Satires No. 15075); this, receding in perspective, bridges an ocean, the other end resting on 'Bengal', where a tiny passenger steps out and clasps a welcoming Indian by the hand. Passengers on Greenwich Hill are about to enter the tube, where the back of a coach appears; a turbaned conductor shouts 'Now whos for Bengal'. An aperture or window in the tube shows passengers seated on an open coach or wheeled platform as in BM Satires No. 15075; women passengers wear monstrous hats. From the Bengal plain (right) a hill ascends on which rests the end of a bridge: 'Companys Suspension Bridge—To Cape Town'; a massive pier rising from the ocean contains a building: 'Restorateur' [sic]. On the water dividing England from India is a lady in a car harnessed to swans, as in BM Satires No. 11405 by Gillray. A big canopied passenger boat is drawn by a team of eight dolphins; the driver shouts 'Come up there'.
On a plateau behind Greenwich Hill is a wheeled steam-engine, like a giant watering-can with spout fore and aft gushing water: this is 'Mc Adams Newly Invented to lay the Dust he makes' [cf. BM Satires No. 15365]. On the sky-line a demoniac figure fires a mortar from which a blast slants across the sky inscribed 'Quick Conveyance for Irish Emigrants': tiny figures, one with a rake, are shot into the air to fall headlong.
Aerial travel is represented (1) by a platform supported at each corner by a balloon on which are soldiers and artillery (reminiscent of the French invasion fantasies of 1797 and 1803, see BM Satires Nos. 9220, 10029); (2) by an airship in the form of a whale-like monster with webbed wings, placarded 'For New South Wales'; raffish passengers of both sexes are seen through a window below which are the words 'with Convicts'. (3) A lady (right) sits between two propellers, steering a frail little machine drawn by a big kite (cf. BM Satires No. 15604!). On the left is a massive collection of cloud-borne castles, on which tiny builders are at work; placarded: 'Scheme for the Payment of the National Debt'. May 1829
- Production date
Height: 305 millimetres
Width: 422 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', XI, 1954)
The signature shows that the print is not later than July 1829. The political topics include Warburton's Bill, see No. 15777, &c.; the extravagant reconstruction of Buckingham House, see No. 15667, &c.; Hobhouse's Select Vestry Bill (cf. No. 15506, &c.), under discussion in May 1829; such vestries guzzled at the parish expense. Gurney took his steam carriage from London to Bath and back at fifteen miles an hour. 'D.N.B.' The steam-coach, see No. 15978, &c, was a promising speculation, shortly to be ruined by prohibitory taxation in the interests of horse-traffic. For the title see No. 15604; here as often it includes "the March of Luxury" (caption of a 'Punch' illustration, 1846, ii. 88: man in an ale-house to the pot-boy: "Just pop my arf-an-arf in the Hice for a minute.").
Reproduced, 'hors-texte', J. Grand-Carteret et L. Delteil, 'La Conquête de l'Air vue par l'Image (1495-1909)': Paris .
Pine-apples (imported and damaged) were first sold in the London streets in 1842, ices in 1850. Mayhew, 'London Labour and the London Poor', 1851, i. 84, 206-8.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1992 Jun-Nov, Essen, Villa Hugel, 'London 1800-1838'
2011 Jan-May, BM P&D, William Heath: satirical printmaker
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number