Background.

Sketches by Boz
  • Onward it has rushed to every part of town, knocking down all the old public-houses, and depositing splendid mansions, stone balustrades, rosewood fittings, immense lamps, and illuminated clocks, at the corner of every street” is a quotation from Sketches by Boz, Scenes, Chapter 22 (Gin Shops).

Context.

Quotation describing the relentless growth of Gin Shops across the capital..The gin shops, now often referred to as gin palaces, were often lavish bars offering spirits for sale over traditional ales.

The Charles Dickens sketch, Gin-Shops first appeared in The Evening Chronicle on Saturday, 7 February 1835. The sketch starts by describing the growth of the ‘gin-palaces’, ornate gin-shops that grew in huge numbers from the late 1820’s. Dickens then goes on to describe one such establishment in the St. Giles area of London.

Gin Shops
Image from the original publication of Gin Shops which appeared in February 1835.

Source.

Taken from the following passage in the sketch Gin Shops:

Six or eight years ago, the epidemic began to display itself among the linen-drapers and haberdashers. The primary symptoms were an inordinate love of plate-glass, and a passion for gas-lights and gilding. The disease gradually progressed, and at last attained a fearful height. Quiet, dusty old shops in different parts of town, were pulled down; spacious premises with stuccoed fronts and gold letters, were erected instead; floors were covered with Turkey carpets; roofs supported by massive pillars; doors knocked into windows; a dozen squares of glass into one; one shopman into a dozen; and there is no knowing what would have been done, if it had not been fortunately discovered, just in time, that the Commissioners of Bankruptcy were as competent to decide such cases as the Commissioners of Lunacy, and that a little confinement and gentle examination did wonders. The disease abated. It died away. A year or two of comparative tranquillity ensued. Suddenly it burst out again amongst the chemists; the symptoms were the same, with the addition of a strong desire to stick the royal arms over the shop-door, and a great rage for mahogany, varnish, and expensive floor-cloth. Then, the hosiers were infected, and began to pull down their shop-fronts with frantic recklessness. The mania again died away, and the public began to congratulate themselves on its entire disappearance, when it burst forth with tenfold violence among the publicans, and keepers of ‘wine vaults.’ From that moment it has spread among them with unprecedented rapidity, exhibiting a concatenation of all the previous symptoms; onward it has rushed to every part of town, knocking down all the old public-houses, and depositing splendid mansions, stone balustrades, rosewood fittings, immense lamps, and illuminated clocks, at the corner of every street.

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Onward it has rushed to every part of town, knocking down all the old public-houses, and depositing splendid mansions, stone balustrades, rosewood fittings, immense lamps, and illuminated clocks, at the corner of every street.

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