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Monster soup commonly called Thames water, being a correct representation of that precious stuff doled out to us!!!

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • Monster soup commonly called Thames water, being a correct representation of that precious stuff doled out to us!!!
  • Description

    Above the design as alternative title:
    Microcosm, dedicated to the London Water Companies,
    Brought Forth All Monstrous, All Prodigious Thigs [sic],
    Hydras, and Gorgons, and Chimeras Dire. Vide Milton.
    ['Paradise Lost', ii.] An elderly, spinsterish, and ugly woman, T.Q.L., holds in her left hand a spy-glass (or microscope) which touches the circumference of a large circle, representing a magnified drop of water, filled with grotesque and horrifying aquatic creatures, from the quasi-whale to mere specks. She turns aside in disgust, looking towards the picture-plane, and dropping a full tea-cup. The P. P. of the signature raises his hat to a tiny pump, saying, Glad to see you hope to meet you in every Parish through London. c. 1828
    Hand-coloured etching


  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1828 (?)
  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 244 millimetres (cropped)
    • Width: 361 millimetres (cropped)
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Lettered with title, text above image and production details "(Paul Pry) [W. Heath]"; publication line cut off.
  • Curator's comments

    (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', XI, 1954)
    A satire on the Metropolitan Water Supply. The Commissioners appointed in 1827 (on Burdett's motion, see No. 15401) reported in 1828 but suggested no remedy for the deplorable contamination of the water. Long communications were made to The Times by J. Wright (see No. 16956) on 16 and 19 Jan. 1828; see ibid., 20 Nov. 1828. Cf. Richards and Payne, London Water Supply, 1899, pp. 18-21.

    Ruth Richardson (personal communication, March 2014) refutes Dorothy George's description of "an elderly, spinsterish, and ugly woman"; she states that "the lady in the image is actually a highly fashionable and intelligent woman, who had been genteelly taking tea in a porcelain cup when she suddenly realized what a myriad of foul creatures infest the water she had been sipping (see the quote from Milton, and the image from the microscope) . Her expression is a mixture of horror, fear, disbelief, and perhaps anger. Hard to etch on so small a scale... but her consternation is clear to see."


  • Bibliography

    • BM Satires 15568 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (Caricatures IV p.121)

  • Exhibition history

    2011 Jan-May, BM P&D, William Heath: satirical printmaker

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number


FOR DESCRIPTION SEE GEORGE (BMSat). c.1828  Hand-coloured etching


FOR DESCRIPTION SEE GEORGE (BMSat). c.1828 Hand-coloured etching

Image description



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Object reference number: PPA173735

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