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Gas, which now promises to be superseded in its turn by electricity, was introduced into Boulton & Watts' foundry, at Birmingham, as early as the year 1798, and the Lyceum Theatre was lit with gas (by way of experiment) in 1803 ; it met however with inuch opposition from persons interested in the conservation of the oil trade, and made no real progress in London until 1807, when it was introduced into Golden Lane on the 16th of August. Pall Mall, however, was not lighted with gas until 1809, and it was really not finally and generally introduced into London until the year 1820. We meet with an excellent satire published by S. W. Fores, in 1807, wherein a harlequin is depicted sitting on a rope suspended between a couple of lamp posts. The lamps and the hat of the figure are garnished with lighted burners; the neighbours in the windows of the adjoining houses, the people on the pavement below, the fowls, the dogs, the cats on the roofs, are suffocated with the noxious vapour. The figure holds in his hand a paper, whereon we read, “This is the speculation to make money, £10,000 per cent. profit all in Air-light air. 'Tis there, 'tis here, and 'tis gone for ever.” This caricature bears the title of The Good Effects of Carbonic Gas. A caricature of Woodward, engraved by Rowland. son, and published by Ackermann on the 23rd of December, 1809, gives us A Peep at the Gas Lights in Pall Mall, the interest of which chiefly centres in the eccentric form of the early street lamps. Among the groups looking on are a wondering " country cousin ” and a " serious” companion. “Ay, friend,” says the latter, anxious of course, in season and out of season, to turn the occasion to profitable account, “verily it is all vanity! What is this to the inward light ?” Some more disreputable members of the community are expressing their fears that the new light will interfere with their own peculiar modes of livelihood.
A clever and somewhat remarkable woman succeeded in achieving an unenviable notoriety in 1809. The daughter of a printer residing in Bowl and Pin Alley, near White's Alley, Chancery Lane, the remarkably intelligent girl had early attracted the notice of friends, one of whom placed her at a boarding school, where she
picked up an education (such as it was) sufficient to sharpen her natural abilities. Her commencement in life was scarcely a hopeful one. Mary Anne Thompson eloped at seventeen years of age with one Joseph Clarke, the son of a builder on Snow Hill, and after living with him three years married him. The marriage was not a happy one. The pair after some years separated, and Mary Anne was thenceforth driven to trust for her support to her own resources and attractions.
These proved fully equal to the occasion. Somewhat small in stature, nature had nevertheless endowed her with a remarkably well turned figure, well shaped arms, comely features, a singularly clear complexion, and blue eyes full of light and vivacity. Dressing with considerable taste and elegance-utterly shameless—without principle or character, with nothing to lose-everything to gain, the woman was eminently fitted to succeed in the peculiar path in life she had elected to follow. Throwing her line with all the dexterity of an accomplished angler, she succeeded almost at her first cast in hooking a very large fish indeed—his Royal Highness Frederick Duke of York, Commander-in-chief, Prince-bishop of Osnaburgh, who had attained at this time the respectable age of forty-six years.
Mary Anne proved, as might have been expected, an expensive plaything. In the short space of two years, the duke seems to have handed his mistress upwards of £5,000, besides expending on her in payments to tradesmen for wine, furniture, and other “paraphernalia,” at least £16,000 or £17,000 more. In time, as is not unusual in matters of this kind, the duke seems to have grown tired of his enslaver, and endeavoured to pension her off with an annuity of £400 a year ; but with the niggardliness which was so distinguishing a characteristic of his family, payment was not only withheld, but when the woman applied for payment, the duke was mean and foolish enough to threaten her with prison and the pillory. Mrs. Clarke, a woman of genius and resource, instead of being frightened, straightway betook herself to Messrs. Wilberforce and Whitbread, the supporters of the impeachment of Lord Melville, and confessed to them certain irregularities of which she had been guilty.