English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the Nineteenth Century/Chapter 11

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CHAPTER XI


THE POLITICAL SKETCHES OF HB


The years 1830-32 were full of political trouble; men's minds were unsettled; progress was the order of the day, and a reform in the election of the members who represented or who were supposed to represent the political opinions of the English constituencies was not only loudly called for, but had (as we have seen) for a very long time past been imperatively demanded. The question was shelved from time to time, but sooner or later it must be settled, and as Liberals and Conservatives alike will be amused and astounded at the state of English parliamentary representation half a century ago, we propose just to glance at matters as they existed in 1830.

The Marquis of Blandford was a somewhat notable character in those days. He had been a violent opponent of the Catholic Relief Bill; but from the moment that measure was carried had become as fiery and reckless a reformer.[1] On the 18th of February, 1830, he proposed that a committee should be chosen by ballot to take a review of all boroughs and cities in the kingdom, and report to the Secretary of State for the Home Department those among them which had fallen into decay, or had in any manner forfeited their right to representation on the principles of the English constitution as anciently recognised by national and parliamentary usage. The Home Secretary was to be bound immediately to act on this report, and to relieve all such places from the burthen of sending members to parliament in future, and the vacancies were to be supplied by towns which had hitherto been, unrepresented. All parliamentary representatives were to be elected by persons "paying scot and lot." He further proposed to extend the right of voting to all copyholders and leaseholders, and to place the representation of Scotland on an equal footing with that of England. The members were to be chosen from the inhabitants of the places for which they were returned, and were to be paid for their services according as they were borough or county members. The former were to receive two guineas a day each, and county members four guineas; why the latter were to be estimated at double the value of the former does not seem clear. Mr. Brougham, although ready to vote for this somewhat extraordinary measure, "because much of what it proposed to do was good," recommended that a merely general resolution that reform was necessary should be substituted in its place. Lord Althorp moved an amendment accordingly on the terms suggested; but both the amendment and the original motion were negatived.

On the third reading of what was then known as the "East Retford" bill, the first attempt was made in parliament by O'Connell to introduce a new principle into the representative system of the country, viz., that the votes of the electors should be taken by ballot. Only twenty-one members voted for O'Connell's motion, among whom the names now most familiar to us are those of Lord Althorp, Sir Francis Burdett, and Mr. Hume.

The most ultra-Conservative, however, of our day, who thinks that the representation of the people has already been carried far enough, will scarcely credit the fact, that in those days constituencies such as Leeds, Manchester, and Birmingham were absolutely unrepresented. Yet such was the case. The motion for transferring the franchise of East Retford to Birmingham having been lost, Lord John Russell, on the 23rd of February, brought the matter of the great unrepresented constituencies before parliament by moving for leave to bring in a bill "to enable Leeds, Manchester, and Birmingham to return members to the House of Commons." It seems scarcely credible to us now-a-days, that this reasonable motion was negatived by 188 to 140.

On the 28th of May, O'Connell brought in a wilder scheme. He moved for leave to bring in a bill to establish triennial parliaments, universal suffrage, and vote by ballot; the simple foundation of his system being that every man who pays a tax or is liable to serve in the militia is entitled to have a voice in the representation of the country. Only thirteen members were found to join him in a house of 332. Lord John Russell, who took advantage of this motion to introduce certain resolutions of his own, embracing a wider scheme of reform than that included in his former programme, could not consent to any part of O'Connell's scheme. Dismissing the subject of triennial parliaments as a subject of comparative unimportance, and passing on to the other propositions, universal suffrage and vote by ballot, he contended that both were incompatible with the principles of the English Constitution. Mr. Brougham, while he thought that the duration of parliaments might be shortened with considerable advantage, provided that other measures for removing improper influence were adopted, declared himself both against universal suffrage and against vote by ballot; and he entered into a full statement of the grounds on which he held that the secresy of voting supposed to be attained by the ballot would produce most mischievous consequences without securing the object which it professed to have in view. The resolutions moved by Lord John Russell (after O'Connell's motion had been negatived) were as follows: (1) "That it was expedient the number of representatives in the House should be increased;" (2) "That it was expedient to give members to the large and manufacturing towns, and additional members to counties of great wealth and population." Under the second of the resolutions, it was proposed to divide large and populous counties, such as Yorkshire for instance, into two divisions, and to give to each of them two members. Among the towns proposed to be benefited were such important centres as Macclesfield, Stockport, Cheltenham, Birmingham, Brighton, Whitehaven, Wolverhampton, Sunderland, Manchester, Bury, Bolton, Dudley, Leeds, Halifax, Sheffield, North and South Shields; while it was stated that the same principle would apply to extend the representation to cities of such importance as Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Belfast. All the resolutions, however (comprising a third which we have considered it unnecessary to refer to), were negatived by the amazing majority of 213 to 117. The fact that this was a much larger majority than that which had thrown out the previous and more limited proposal for extending the franchise to three only of the manufacturing towns, will suffice to show the spirit in which the unreformed parliament of 1830 was accustomed to receive any suggestion of improvement and reform, reasonable or otherwise.

It may perhaps seem strange that at this stirring period there was an absolute dearth of political caricaturists, but the fact we have already attempted to account for. George Cruikshank, the finest caricaturist of his day, as well as his brother Robert, neither of whom can be described as purely political satirists, had now practically retired from the practice of the art, and were employed on work of a totally different character. Political caricature languished; indeed, if we perhaps except William Heath, oftentimes better known by his artistic pseudonym of "Paul Pry," there was not a political caricaturist of any note in 1829-30.

At this juncture there arose a graphic satirist—if indeed we are justified in, so terming him—of genuine originality. Before 1829, he had been known only as a miniature painter of some celebrity; but he possessed a taste for satiric art, and had essayed several subjects of political character which he treated in a style and manner differing altogether from the mode in which satirical pictures had hitherto been treated. These he showed to Maclean, one of the great caricature publishers of the day, who had sufficient discernment and prescience to recognise in them the work of a man of unquestionable original ability. He prevailed on the artist to publish these specimens, and their success was so genuine and unmistakable that both publisher and artist decided to continue them. Thus commenced a series of political pictures which ultimately numbered almost a thousand, and ran an uninterrupted course of prosperity for a period of upwards of two and twenty years.

The enormous success and reputation which the "sketches," as they were called, achieved, was due not only to the cleverness and originality of the artist himself, but also in a great measure to the mystery which attended their publication and appearance. Both parties concerned in their production preserved an inviolable secrecy on the subject of the identity of the artist and the place whence the "sketches" originated. Mr. Buss tells us,[2] "the drawings were called for in a mysterious hackney coach, mysteriously deposited in a mysterious lithographic printing office, and as mysteriously printed and mysteriously stored until the right day of publication." The HB mystery was most religiously preserved for a great number of years, both by the artist and the publisher. The initials afforded no clue to those not immediately concerned in preserving the secret; and yet in this very original monogram lay the key to the whole of the mystery. The origin of this signature was simply the junction of two I's and two D's (one above the other), thus converting the double initials into HB. The single initials were those of John Doyle, father of the late Richard Doyle, who afterwards made his own mark as a comic artist in the pages of Punch and elsewhere.

The "sketches" of HB were a complete innovation upon pictorial satire. The idea of satirizing political subjects and public men without the exaggeration or vulgarity which the caricaturists had more or less inherited from Gillray, was entirely new to the public, and took with them immensely; and herein lies their peculiarity, that whilst the subjects are treated with a distinctly sarcastic humour, there is an absence of anything approaching to exaggeration, and the likenesses of the persons represented are most faithfully preserved. Whilst claiming for himself the character of a pictorial satirist, the artist is all throughout anxious to impress upon you the fact that he repudiates the notion of being considered a caricaturist in the Johnsonian meaning of the word. This idea seems also to have struck Thackeray, who, writing at the time when the sketches were appearing, says of him, "You never hear any laughing at 'H.B.'; his pictures are a great deal too genteel for that, polite points of wit, which strike one as exceedingly clever and pretty, and cause one to smile in a quiet, gentlemanlike kind of way."[3] Throughout the series of sketches we know but of one instance where the artist surfers any comparison to be established between, himself and the political caricaturists who had preceded him, and that is the one entitled Bombardment Extraordinary (having reference to the indictment for libel against the Morning Journal, which was shortly followed by the collapse of that paper), which is treated to the full as coarsely as Gillray himself might desire. The fact of this being among the earliest sketches would seem to show that the artist had not then quite made up his mind whether to follow in the footsteps of his great predecessor or not. We think the result must have convinced him that, whilst having distinct merits of his own as a satirist, and indeed as an artist, he was very far behind Gillray; and the rest of the sketches seem to show that their designer had made up his mind that no middle course was possible;—in other words, that he must be HB or nothing.

The faithfulness of the likenesses of the persons who appear in these "sketches" is simply marvellous. Not only has the artist preserved the features of the subjects of his satires, but he has caught their attitude—their manner, almost their tricks and habits,—and the drawings being, as we have said, wholly free from exaggeration, the very men stand before you, often, it is true, in absurd and ridiculous positions. The persons who figure in these lithographs comprise among names of note many whose reputations were too ephemeral to preserve them from oblivion. On the other hand, amongst the various groups we recognise Prince Talleyrand, the Dukes of Cumberland, Gloucester, Wellington, and Sussex, George the Fourth, William the Fourth, Louis Philippe, her present Majesty, Lord Brougham, Colonel Sibthorpe, Count Pozzo di Borgo, Daniel O'Connell, Lord John Russell, Sir Robert Peel, Mr. Hume, Lord Melbourne, Lord Palmerston, Sir Francis Burdett, Mr. Roebuck, Sir James Graham. Persons with no political reputation or connection are occasionally introduced to serve the purposes of the artist: doing duty for him in this manner we find the Rev. Edward Irving; Townsend the "runner," of Bow Street notoriety; George Robins, the auctioneer; Listen, the comedian; and others.

Ever on the alert for comic subjects, John Doyle was remarkably prompt and ready to catch an idea. Frequently these ideas were suggested to him by a phrase—a sentence—a few words in a speech; occasionally he takes a hint from his Lempriére; whilst not unfrequently his happiest conceptions are derived from a character or scene in one of the popular operas or farces of the time. Thus, in one of the debates on the Reform Bill in the House of Lords, some very high words passed between Lords Grey and Kenyon, the latter applying the words "abandoned" and "atrocious" to the conduct of the former, who on his part declared in reply that he threw back the expressions with scorn and indignation. In the midst of the confusion the Duke of Cumberland rose, and implored their lordships to tranquillize themselves and proceed with the debate in a temperate and orderly manner, advice which, after taking time to cool, they thought it prudent to follow. The farce of "I'll Be Your Second" was then running at the Olympic, Mr. Listen taking the part of "Placid," who, having a pecuniary interest in one of the characters who has a weakness for duelling, is kept in a state of nervous anxiety, and constantly interposes with the question, "Can't this affair be arranged?" In one of his "sketches," HB gives us A Scene from the Farce of "I'll Be Your Second" in which the Duke of Cumberland is represented as Placid, endeavouring to arrange matters amicably between my Lords Kenyon and Grey.

Duke of Cumberland.The duke himself was one of the most unpopular personages of his time, and evinced on his part a contempt for public opinion which did nothing to lessen the prejudice with which he was generally regarded. We dislike a man none the less for knowing that he is conscious of and indifferent to our good or bad opinion; and so it was with the Duke of Cumberland. He followed his pleasure (field sports amongst the rest) with a serene and happy indifference to all that the world might think or say about him. This characteristic of his Royal Highness is satirized in another of the "sketches," where he is supposed to sing "My Dog and My Gun," as "Hawthorn," in the then popular opera of "Love in a Village." His Royal Highness made himself a remarkable character in those smooth-faced days by wearing a profusion of whisker and moustache perfectly white. A rumour somehow got abroad and was circulated in the tittle-tattle newspapers of the time, that at the instance of some fair lady he had shaved off these martial appendages. The cavalry for some unexplained reason were the only branch of the service who were then permitted to wear moustaches, and in one of his sketches, the artist places the smooth-shaved duke in the midst of his brother officers, who regard him with the greatest horror and amazement.

The Ministry which succeeded that of the Duke of Wellington had entered office under express declaration that they would forthwith apply themselves to the reform of the representation of the people; and accordingly, on the 1st of March, 1831, a bill for that purpose was actually introduced by Lord John Russell; but the strength and violence of the opposition which could still be mustered against it may be judged by the fact, that the second reading was carried by the hopeless majority of one in the fullest house that had ever been assembled. A dissolution took place shortly afterwards, and the avowed intention of such dissolution had been to obtain from the people at the general election (which followed) a House of Commons pledged to support the Reform Bill; indeed, the only test by which candidates were tried, was their expressed pledge to support this particular measure. On the 24th of June, 1831, Lord John Russell again moved for leave to bring in a bill to amend the representation of England, and the difference in the result obtained by the election is conclusively shown by the fact, that the votes for the second reading were 367 against 231. On the 13th of July it passed into Committee, and on the 7th of September, the bill as amended in Committee was reported to the House; the majority in favour of the motion for passing it was found to be 109, the ayes being 345, and the noes 236.

The Reform Bill thrown out by the Lords.The Reform Bill next day was carried up to the Lords by Lord John Russell, attended by about a hundred of its staunchest supporters in the lower House. These gentlemen appear to have adopted the unusual mode of exciting the attention of the peers and giving to the function they were performing a striking and theatrical character, by accompanying the delivery of the bill to the Lord Chancellor with their own characteristic "Hear, hear." A cry of "order" recalled them to a sense of the presence in which they stood. In Doyle's contemporary sketch of Bringing up our Bill, this incident is referred to. Lord Chancellor Brougham stands at the bar of the House to receive it from the hands of the member who leads the deputation (Lord John Russell); behind him we see Lord Althorp, the Marquis of Chandos, and the Right Hon. John Wilson Croker, who exchange signs with their fingers, showing that the proceeding does not altogether meet with their approval. In the background may be seen Sir Charles Wetherell, hated of the reformers of Bristol, looking as opposed to the measure as ever; the bill, as we know, was thrown out by the Lords in October, by a majority of 41. The same month, its enthusiastic advocate, the Rev. Sydney Smith, at a reform meeting at Taunton, compared the attempt of the House of Lords to stop the progress of reform to a certain fictitious Dame Partington of Sidmouth, who had essayed during the progress of the great storm to arrest the progress of the Atlantic with her broom. "The Atlantic was roused," said the wit; "Mrs. Partington's spirit was up; but I need not tell you that the contest was unequal. The Atlantic Ocean beat Mrs. Partington." Immediately after this speech appeared the sketch of Dame Partington and the Ocean of Reform, in which the character of the apocryphal and obstinate dame is sustained by that vigorous opponent of the Reform Bill, his grace the Duke of Wellington.

A Dead Lock. As the Lords had thrown out the Reform Bill, it was necessary to begin de novo. Accordingly, on the 12th of December, Lord John Russell again moved for leave to bring in a new Reform Bill, which passed the third reading by a majority of 116 on the 23rd of March, 1832, and its second reading in the House of Peers, by a majority of nine, on the 14th of April. Then the fighting and opposition became once more as strenuous and as sustained as ever. On a subsequent division the ministry were left in a minority of thirty-five, whereupon Earl Grey proceeded to the king, and tendered to his Majesty the alternative either of arming the ministers with the powers they deemed necessary to carry through their bill (which really meant a power to create whatever new peers they might deem requisite for the purpose), or of accepting their own immediate resignation. In the course of the following day the king informed his lordship that he had determined to accept his resignation rather than have recourse to the only alternative which had been proposed to him; and accordingly, on the 9th, Earl Grey announced in the House of Lords, and Lord Althorp in the Commons, that the ministry was at an end, and simply held office till their successors should be appointed. The Duke of Wellington attempted to form an administration, and failed—and his failure left matters, the ministers, and the perplexed monarch, of course exactly "as they were."

The excitement occasioned by the Lords was tremendous. At London, Birmingham, Manchester, and other large centres, simultaneous meetings were held to petition the Commons to stop the supplies. In the metropolis placards were everywhere posted, recommending the union of all friends of the cause; the enforcement of the public rights at all hazards; and a universal resistance to the payment of taxes, rates, tithes, and assessments; the country in fact was on the brink of revolution. At the meetings of the political societies, even in the leading journals, projects were openly discussed and recommended for organizing and arming the people; the population of the large towns was ready to be launched on the metropolis. "What was to be done—peers or no peers? A cabinet sat nearly all day, and Lord Grey went once or twice to the king. He, poor man, was at his wits' end, and tried an experiment (not a very constitutional one) of his own by writing to a number of peers, entreating them to withdraw their opposition to the bill." [4] The letter to which Mr. Charles Greville refers is evidently the following circular:—

" St. James's Palace, May 17th, 1832.

"My Dear Lord,— I am honoured with his Majesty's command to acquaint your lordship, that all difficulties to the arrangements in progress will be obviated by a declaration in the House to-night from a sufficient number of peers, that in consequence of the present state of affairs, they have come to the resolution of dropping their further opposition to the Reform Bill, so that it may pass without delay, and as nearly as possible in its present shape.

" I have the honour to be yours sincerely,
" Herbert Taylor."

Such a request, coming from such a quarter, was not only weighty in itself, but necessarily implied after all that had taken place, that his Majesty suggested this course as the only means of avoiding the creation of a large number of additional peers. The majority of the House were thus placed in the unenviable position of being compelled to choose whether they would see a hundred members added to the number of their opponents to carry a measure which was hateful to them, or to abandon for a time their rights, privileges, and duties as legislators. They chose the latter alternative, and during the remainder of the discussion on the bill, not more than between thirty and forty attended at any one time. By this means, and this only, the bill was eventually carried.

On these grounds John Doyle appears to have founded his theory that William the Fourth was a sincere convert to Reform. [5] In one of the "sketches" he shows us his Majesty in the character of Johnny Gilpin carried along at headlong speed by his unmanageable grey steed "Reform." He flies past the famous hostelry at Edmonton, where his wife and her friends (represented by the Duke of Wellington and a party of Tories) are anxiously awaiting his arrival. The turnpike-keeper (John Bull) throws open the gate to let him pass, too delighted with the fun to think of any personal expense to himself, and conscious that if the gate is shut the inexpert horseman must come to unutterable grief. The bottles dangling at Gilpin's waist are filled with "Birmingham froth" and "Rotunda pop," in allusion to the stump oratory of the Birmingham Political Union and the Rotunda in Blackfriars Road. Hume and O'Connell, the ardent supporters of the bill, cheering with might and main, closely follow John on horseback; while Sir Francis Burdett and Sir T. C. Hobhouse, equally ardent advocates of Reform, join the cry on foot. The frightened geese with coroneted heads represent, of course, the peers, who had offered such determined opposition to the measure, while the old apple woman rolling in the mud is no other than poor Lord Eldon. The bird of ill-omen foretelling disaster is Mr. Croker, Secretary to the Admiralty. Later on the same year (1832), we find his Majesty represented as Mazeppa bound to the grey steed Reform, several of the Conservative members of either houses of Parliament doing duty as the wolves and "fearful wild fowl" that accompany the rider in his perilous course. In another satire, the king, supposed to have discovered his mistake, figures as Sinbad the Sailor, vainly endeavouring to shake himself free of the old man of the sea (Earl Grey), who however is too firmly seated on his shoulders to be disloged.

Unpopularity of the Duke of Wellington.The Duke of Wellington's political convictions having prompted him to be among one of the leading opponents to the Reform Bill, he narrowly escaped serious injury at the hands of the London rabble. On the 18th of June, 1832, having occasion to pay a visit to the Mint, a crowd of several hundred roughs collected on Tower Hill to await his return; and on making his appearance at the gate he was hissed and hooted by the crowd, who followed him along the Minories yelling, hooting, and using abusive language, their numbers and threatening demeanour momentarily increasing. About halfway up the Minories he was met by Mr. Ballantine, the Thames police magistrate, who asked him if he could render him any assistance; but the cool, courageous soldier simply replied that he did not mind what was going on. When his grace had got to about the middle of Fenchurch Street, one of the cowardly ruffians rushed out of the crowd, and seizing the bridle with one hand attempted to dismount the duke with the other, in which he would have succeeded but for the courageous conduct of the groom and a body of city police, who opportunely made their appearance at the time. The mob had now grown as numerous as it was cowardly; but by the exertions of the police, his grace was escorted through it and along Cheapside without sustaining personal injury. In Holborn, however, the rabble, growing bolder, began to throw stones and filth, and the duke, followed by the canaille, rode to the chambers of Sir Charles Wetherell, in Stone Buildings, Lincoln's Inn, where he remained, till a body of police arrived from Bow Street, by whom he was escorted in safety to Apsley House. To make the outrage more disgraceful, if possible, it happened on the anniversary of the crowning victory of Waterloo; the mob, forgetting in their unreasoning wrath the priceless services the great soldier had rendered to the nation, whilst the cowardly rascals who composed it were the very persons who could by no possibility be benefited by the provisions of the bill in which they professed to take so great an interest. On the night of the illumination which followed the passing of the Act, they broke the windows of his grace and other opponents of the measure; and in one of the contemporary HB sketches, Taking an Airing to Hyde Park, the duke is seen looking out of one of his broken window-panes. Before the end of the year he was visited by serious illness, and the angry feelings his opposition to the measure had provoked, and which had been gradually subsiding, were suddenly followed by a complete reaction in his favour. HB commemorates this in his sketch of Auld Lang Syne, which shows the happy reconciliation between John Bull and the hero of Waterloo.

Duel between the Duke of Wellington and Lord Winchelsea.Consistently and conscientiously as the great duke had opposed what he considered the revolutionary tendency of the Reform Bill, it must not be forgotten that it is to him that the Catholics owe the benefits of the Act of 1829, which relieved them of the disabilities under which they had so long suffered; and it must not be forgotten too, that in this measure he had not only to contend with his own repugnance to Catholic emancipation, but also with that of his chief colleagues,—of the great majority of the House of Lords, and of the king himself. With the latter indeed his task had been a very difficult one; and it was only a few days before the meeting of Parliament in the early part of 1829, that the consent of George the Fourth had been obtained. Among the most strenuous of the duke's opponents to the Catholic Relief Bill was the Earl of Winchelsea, who, in the unreasoning bitterness of his anger, shut his eyes to the injustice under which the Catholics had so long suffered, and most unwarrantably charged his grace with an intention "to introduce Popery into every department of the State." These words led to a hostile meeting in Battersea Fields on the 21st of March, 1829. Lord Winchelsea, after receiving the duke's fire, discharged his pistol in the air, and there the affair ended, his second delivering a written acknowledgment expressing his lordship's regret for having imputed disgraceful motives to the conduct of the duke, in his proCatholic exertions. Twelve months afterwards, on the 2nd of April, 1830, Richard William Lambrecht was indicted at Kingston assizes for the murder of Oliver Clayton, whom he had shot in a duel in Battersea Fields on the preceding 8th of January. Lambrecht had a narrow escape, for the judge in his summing up told the jury that if they were of opinion that the accused met Clayton "on the ground with the intention, if the difference could not be settled, of putting his life against Clayton's, and Mr. Clayton's against his," the prisoner was guilty of wilful murder; and the jury, finding on application to the learned judge that there were no circumstances in the case to reduce the crime to manslaughter, by way apparently of getting out of the difficulty, returned a verdict of not guilty. This incident suggested the sketch entitled A Hint to Duellists, in which the unsparing satirist places the duke in Lambrecht's unenviable position before Mr. Justice Bailey, from whose lips are proceeding a portion of the charge which he actually delivered to the jury at the trial at Kingston assizes. Even the duke, impassive as he appeared, must have felt the justice of this unsparing but admirable sarcasm.

Another member of the royal family who frequently figures in the "sketches" is the Duke of Sussex. He was a man of large frame, and as remarkable for the blackness of his whiskers as the Duke of Cumberland was conspicuous for the bleached appearance of these hirsute adornments. At a meeting of the council of the London University, he is reported to have said that for the promotion of anatomical science he should have no personal objection to dedicate his own body after death to the College of Surgeons for the purposes of dissection. This hint was enough of course for HB, and his royal highness accordingly figures in a contemporary satire as A great Subject "Dedicated to the Royal College of Surgeons"

Sir Francis Burdett.Another prominent personage of HB's time, and a singular instance of the change which frequently takes place in the political convictions of public men, was Sir Francis Burdett. Commencing his career as an ardent radical and reformer intolerant of abuses, he finished it and astonished his former supporters by being returned for Westminster in the Conservative interest. The political conduct of this once celebrated man is of so unusual a character that a short recapitulation of his career seems necessary, in order that the reader may understand the satires we are about to describe. Notwithstanding his expressed views in support of absolute purity of election, his own election for Middlesex in 1802–4, is said—what with the expenses and subsequent litigation—to have cost him upwards of one hundred thousand pounds. On the 5th of May, 1807, he was challenged by and fought a duel with Mr. James Paull, on Wimbledon Common, the cause of quarrel being Sir Francis's refusal to act as chairman at a gathering of Paull's supporters at the Crown and Anchor Tavern, Westminster, in April. The duel terminated in both the principals being seriously wounded. The same year he was returned to Parliament to serve as member for Westminster, which constituency he continued to represent for nearly thirty years. Perhaps the greatest event of his life was his committal to the Tower under the Speaker's warrant for a libellous letter published in Cobbett's Political Register, of 24th March, 1810, in which he questioned the power of the House to imprison delinquents. He at first resisted the execution of the warrant, and being a favourite with the mob, a street contest ensued between the military and the people, in which some lives were lost. In 1818, we find him moving for annual parliaments and universal suffrage, when the House divided with the result of 100 to 2, the minority being composed of the mover and seconder—that is to say, himself and Lord Cochrane. In 1820, he was found guilty at Leicester of a libel on Government in a letter to his constituents reflecting on the Manchester outrage of the preceding year; a new trial was moved for by himself, but this was refused, and he was sentenced the following February to three mouths' imprisonment, and to pay a fine of £2,000. In March, 1825, his resolutions for the relief of the Irish Catholics were carried by a majority of 247 to 234; but in later life his restless spirit gradually calmed down, and after the appointment of the Melbourne Ministry in 1835, he surprised and disgusted his party by going into opposition, principally (as he alleged) on account of the court which they paid to O'Connell and his followers in their agitation against the Irish Established Church. For some time previous to the sketch we are about to describe he had absented himself from the House, and otherwise shown his distaste for the persons and principles of the leading men of the party to which he had formerly belonged. The busy-bodies who professed to be the exponents of public opinion in Westminster, pressed him for an explicit statement of his views, and eventually called upon him to resign, and he took them directly at their word. The person brought forward to oppose him was John Temple Leader, then member for Bridgwater, a name which suggested to the artist the pictorial pun of Following the Leader, the "followers" being Lord Melbourne, Lord John Russell, Lord Palmerston, Mr. O'Connell, Sir J. Hobhouse, Mr. Hume, and Sir William Molcsworth. Notwithstanding the exertions of the ministers and their friends to secure the election of Mr. Leader, that gentleman was not only beaten by a very considerable majority, but lost as a natural consequence his seat for Bridgwater, a fact which suggested to the artist another able sketch, The Dog and the Shadow. The election itself forms the subject of A Race for the Westminster Stakes, in which the aged thoroughbred (Sir Francis), ridden by Lord Castlereagh, beats the young horse Leader, jockey Mr. Roebuck. Among the backers of the losing horse, Daniel O'Connell and Joseph Hume may be easily detected by the lugubrious expression of their faces. The sketch of A Fine Old English Gentleman was suggested by a remark made by the Times during the progress of the contest, in which it described Sir Francis as "a fine specimen of the old English gentleman." In the left-hand corner of this sketch the artist has placed a picture of the Tower of London, by way of reminder of the days when the baronet was regarded not so much in the light of "a fine old English Gentleman" as a radical of the most advanced type, and as a martyr in the cause of public liberty.

Changes in Political OpinionA change of opinion however is obviously a necessary incident of political life, and we have ourselves witnessed some remarkable instances of such versatility in our own days. In some cases these changes are only temporary or partial, in others they are radical and complete; sometimes they are dictated by conviction, at others by necessity; occasionally they seem to be the result of absolute caprice; while in not a few instances, I fear, we should not be very far wrong in assigning them to feelings of disappointment or personal or political pique. This tergiversation in public men forms the subject of one of HB's happiest inspirations. In 1837 there appeared at the Adelphi Theatre an American comedian named Rice, the forerunner of the Christies and other "original" minstrels of our day, who sang in his character of a nigger a comic (?) song, which, being wholly destitute of melody, and even more idiotic than compositions of that kind usually are. forthwith became exceedingly popular, being groaned by every organ, and whistled by all the street urchins of the day. This peculiar production, which was known as "Jim Crow," was accompanied by a characteristic double shuffle, while every verse concluded with this intellectual chorus:—

"Turn about, and wheel about,
 And do just so;
 And every time I turn about,
 I jump Jim Crow."

In Jim Crow Dance and Chorus (the title of the sketch referred to), we find the leading men of all parties assembled at a ball, engaged in the new saltatory performance initiated by Mr. Rice. In the left-hand corner we notice Lord Abinger, formerly Sir James Scarlett, a Whig, who growing tired of waiting for the advent of his own party to power, changed his political opinions—that is to say "jumped Jim Crow,"—and was made Attorney General by the Duke of Wellington. Next him is Lord Stanley, who commenced life as a Whig and was a member of Lord Grey's Reform administration, but unprepared to go the lengths which his party seemed disposed' to 'take, he too "jumped Jim Crow," deserted them, and joined the ranks of the Opposition. Lord Stanley's vis-à-vis is Sir James Graham; in his early days he had distinguished himself by the strength of his radical opinions, but as a member of Lord Grey's cabinet, he suppressed these sentiments, and "jumped Jim Crow" by confining himself more strictly within Whig limits. Conspicuous amongst the performers is Lord Melbourne! When in office under Mr. Canning he had made several anti-Reform speeches, but afterwards became a member of the Government of Lord Grey by which Reform was carried;—as Prime Minister he. went far nearer to the principles of absolute democracy than either Lord Grey or Lord Althorp. Lord Melbourne's face, however, shows unmistakable repugnance at finding that his numerous "wheels about" have brought him face to face with O'Connell, and he turns in disgust from the famous agitator, who, with his thumb to his nose and his left arm stuck in his side, shows that he has no intention of permitting him to enjoy a pas all to himself. O'Connell of course shows himself complete master of the figure which he had danced so frequently one of the most shifty, unstable men of his day, he can scarcely be called a politician, for like all agitators, the person he really sought to serve was himself alone. He chopped and changed just as it suited his purpose, and is properly introduced by the artist amongst the most adroit and vigorous of the political double shufflers.

The Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel find themselves vis-à-vis, in allusion to their conduct with reference to Catholic Emancipation. Both had originally been consistent opposers of the measure, which was at last carried by the influence of the very men who before had been its most persistent adversaries.

But, if any one had "turned about and wheeled about," it was Sir Francis Burdett, and accordingly the artist introduces him as indulging in a very flourishing pas seul; he wears a self-satisfied smirk, and carries his thumbs in his waistcoat, in allusion to his own contention that he had been always consistent. Yet this self-satisfied aristocratic-looking personage not many years before had distinguished himself as the most prominent of radical malcontents, and had been drawn by his enthusiastic dupes through the city of Westminster in a triumphal car, decorated with the symbols of liberty, and preceded by a banner bearing the inscription, "Westminster's Pride and England's Glory."

The queer figure in the cocked hat is Sir de Lacy Evans, who figures as one of the dancers in allusion to his practice as compared with his professions. In 1833 he obtained a seat for Westminster, triumphing over his opponent Sir J. C. Hobhouse, who for fifteen years had represented that constituency, both candidates professing to be zealous advocates for the abolition of flogging in the army. Sir de Lacy nevertheless, when commanding the British Legion at St. Sebastian, "jumped Jim Crow" by flogging his soldiers without mercy. Lord John Russell once sneered at every project of Reform, but his Lordship, as we have seen, "jumped Jim Crow" by repeatedly introducing the Reform Bill into the House of Commons, which was mainly passed by his persistent exertions; very properly, therefore, Lord John figures in HB's clever sketch among the most prominent of " Jim Crow" double shufflers.


  1. These political changes, as we shall presently see, are by no means uncommon. William Cobbett, for instance, in 1801 supported the principles of Pitt, but in 1805, from a "Church and King" man, he became and continued an ardent liberal.
  2. "English Graphic Satire," by R. W. Buss.
  3. Westminster Review, June, 1840.
  4. Greville's "Memoirs," ii. p. 303.
  5. This was the idea of all Tories of the day. The terrible effects of the Reform Bill were amusingly predicted by John Wilson Croker to the king himself; they have not of course been fulfilled. See "Journal of Julian Charles Young" (Memoir of Charles Mayne Young, vol. i. p. 231).