English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the Nineteenth Century/Chapter 4
|←CHAPTER III||English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the Nineteenth Century by
MISCELLANEOUS CARICATURES AND SUBJECTS OF CARICATURE, 1820-1830.
Caroline of BrunswickAs in 1809 a revengeful and unscrupulous woman had succeeded in exposing the reputation of a member of the Royal family to public opprobrium, so, in like manner, in 1820, a woman, and no less a person in this instance than a titular queen of England, was the means of dragging the crown itself through the mire of a disreputable scandal. That Caroline of Brunswick was an uncongenial and unfitting consort; that she was an utterly unfit and improper person to occupy the exalted position of Queen of England, there can be no manner of doubt. But to the question whether it was wise, politic, or dignified to subject her conduct (however morally criminal) to the reproach of a public investigation, there can be but one answer.
The marriage of Caroline, daughter of Charles, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, with George, Prince of Wales, was solemnized on the 8th of April, 1795. Exactly one year afterwards, and three months after the birth of their child, the Princess Charlotte, the pair separated. The separation was effected at the instance of the prince, and the reasons for his wishing to live apart from her are assigned in a letter which he sent her Royal Highness through Lord Cholmondeley: "Our inclinations" he told her, "are not in our own power; nor should either be answerable to the other because nature has not made us suitable to each other. Tranquil and comfortable society is, however, in our power; let our intercourse therefore be restricted to that."
Sixty years have elapsed since this miserable woman died, and we who are no longer biassed by the political leanings which more or less influenced those who regarded her with favour or prejudice, are enabled to consider the circumstances from a fair and dispassionate point of view. In order that the reader may form his own conclusions of her character and disposition, we prefer to quote authorities whose political sympathies were distinctly favourable to her cause. Writing of his grandmother, Lady de Clifford (governess of the Princess Charlotte), Lord Albermarle tells us: "She [Lady de Clifford] used often to recount to me the events of her court life. The behaviour of the Princess of Wales (this was before she left England) naturally came under review. I fear that the judgment she formed of the conduct of this much sinned against and sinning lady coincides but too closely with the verdict that public opinion has since passed upon her. To Lady de Clifford she was the source of constant anxiety and annoyance. Often, when in obedience to the king's [George III.] commands, my grandmother took her young charge to the Charlton Villa, the Princess of Wales would behave with a levity of manner and language that the presence of her child and her child's governess were insufficient to restrain. On more than one occasion, Lady de Clifford was obliged to threaten her with making such a representation to the king as would tend to deprive her altogether of the Princess Charlotte's society. These remonstrances were always taken in good part, and produced promises of amendment." The Hon. Amelia Murray tells us in her "Recollections from 1803 to 1837": "There was about this period an extravagant furore in the cause of the Princess of Wales. She was considered an ill-treated woman, and that was enough to arouse popular feeling. My brother was among the young men who helped to give her an ovation at the opera. A few days afterwards he went to breakfast at a place near Woolwich. There he saw the princess, in a gorgeous dress, which was looped up to show her petticoat covered with stars, with silver wings on her shoulders, sitting under a tree, with a pot of porter on her knee; and as a finale to the gaiety, she had the doors opened of every room in the house, and selecting a partner, she galloped through them, desiring all the guests to follow her example! It may be guessed whether the gentlemen were anxious to clap her at the opera again." Now this was the personage whom certain classes of the community persisted in regarding, sixty years ago, as a royal martyr. Small as is the respect or esteem which we owe to the memory of George the Fourth, we may almost sympathise with him when he calls such a consort "uncongenial."
A person so little fitted for the high position which she occupied was certain to give trouble; and as far back as 1806, her indiscreet conduct had induced the king [George III.] to grant a commission to Lords Spencer, Grenville, Erskine, and Ellenborough, to examine into the truth of certain allegations which had been made against her; and, although their report expressed the most unqualified opinion that the graver charges were utterly destitute of foundation, such report, nevertheless, concluded with some strictures made by the commissioners "on the levity of manners displayed by the princess on. certain occasions." In consequence of this official report, the intercourse between the Princess of Wales and her daughter, the Princess Charlotte, was subjected to regulation and restraint; they were allowed at first a single weekly interview, which, for some doubtless sufficient reason, was afterwards reduced to a fortnightly meeting.
While pitying the mother, we seem scarcely justified in assuming, with our present knowledge of her obstinate nature and disposition, that these restrictions were imposed without some just and sufficient reason. It would seem to have come to the knowledge of the Princess Caroline in 1813, that the interdiction was intended "to be still more rigidly enforced," for on the 14th of January of that year we find that she wrote a letter to the Prince Regent, in which she complained that the separation of mother and daughter was equally injurious to her own character and to the education of her child. Adverting to the restricted intercourse between them, she observed that in the eyes of the world, "this separation of a daughter from her mother would only admit . . . of a construction fatal to the mother's reputation. Your Royal Highness," she continued, "will pardon me for adding that there is no less inconsistency than injustice in this treatment. He who dares advise your Highness to overlook the evidence of my innocence, and disregard the sentence of complete acquittal which it [i.e. the inquiry of 1806] produced—or is wicked and false enough still to whisper suspicions in your ear, betrays his duty to you, sir, to your daughter, and to your people, if he counsels you to permit a day to pass without a further investigation of my conduct. . . Let me implore you to reflect on the situation in which I am placed, without the shadow of a charge against me, without even an accuser after an inquiry that led to my ample vindication, yet treated as if I were still more culpable than the perjuries of my suborned traditcers represented me, and held up to the world as a mother who may not enjoy the society of her only child."
No possible objection can be taken to this letter; indeed, by whomsoever it was penned, taken altogether it was an admirable composition. If, however, we are to credit the statement of Mr. Whitbread, made in the House on the 5th of March, 1813, it was thrice returned to the writer unopened. But the princess, as we shall find, was not a person to be intimidated by any amount of rebuffs. "At length that letter [we quote Mr. Whitbread] was read to him [the Prince Regent], and the cold answer returned was, that ministers had received no commands on the subject." The letter found its way into the public prints, and then, and not till then, if we are to believe Mr. Whitbread, his Royal Highness directed that the whole of the documents, together with her Royal Highness's communications to himself, should be referred to certain members of the Privy Council, who were to report to him their opinion, "whether under all the circumstances . . . it was fit and proper that the intercourse between the Princess of Wales and her daughter . . . should continue to be, subject to regulations and restrictions."
In their report, which was presented on the 19th of February, the commissioners stated that "they had taken into their most serious consideration, together with the other papers referred to by His Royal Highness, all the documents relative to the inquiry instituted in 1806 . . . into the truth of certain representations respecting . . . the Princess of Wales; and, that after full examination of all the documents before them, they were of opinion, that under all the circumstances of the case, it was highly fit and proper, with a view to the welfare of . . . the Princess Charlotte . . . and the most important interests of the State, that the intercourse between . . . the Princess of Wales and the . . Princess Charlotte should continue to be subject to regulation and restraint."
It was only natural, of course, that Caroline should rebel; and she accordingly wrote on the 1st of March a letter to the Speaker, protesting against the mode in which this second inquiry had been conducted. Motions on her behalf were afterwards brought forward successively in the House by Mr. Cockrane Johnson and Mr. Whitbread, both of which, however, fell to the ground. The remarks made by Mr. Whitbread provoked a speech in the House of Lords from Lord Ellenborough (who had been a member of both commissions), which is singularly illustrative of the habits and manners of the time. After an introduction of great solemnity, his lordship said, "that, in the case alluded to, the persons intrusted with the commission [of 1806] were charged with having fabricated an unauthorised document, purporting to relate what was not given in evidence, and to suppress what was given. This accusation," said his lordship, "is as false as h—— in every particular." He then proceeded to give an account of the mode in which everything had been taken down from the mouth of the witness, and afterwards read over to and subscribed by her." He concluded his peculiarly energetic speech by again denying, in the most positive terms, the truth of the imputation which had been cast upon the commissioners.
The inquiry of 1813 set the pencils of the caricaturists in motion, and among the satires it occasioned, I find a series of eight pictures on one sheet, representing the witnesses, the commissioners, Mr. Whitbread, and other persons connected with that and the previous investigation of 1806. It is called A Key to the Investigation, or Iago Distanced by Odds; and the most amusing of the series is the seventh, which represents the furious Lord Ellenborough, attired in his official robes of Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench. The following doggerel clearly identifies it with the speech from which we have already quoted:—
"This is the Chief J—— who, as the Lords tell,
The eighth of the series is "the spring that set all in motion," the satirist's meaning being indicated by a throne, on which lies a cocked hat adorned with the Prince of Wales' feathers, and beneath it, as is usual in a large proportion of the satires which allude to the prince-regent, a number of empty bottles.
The Regent seems never to have lost an opportunity of insulting his uncongenial and unfortunate wife. In anticipation of the expected visit of the allied sovereigns in June, 1814, the prince conveyed an intimation to his royal mother that, as he considered his presence could not be dispensed with at her ensuing drawing-rooms, he desired it to be distinctly understood, "for reasons of which he alone could be the judge, to be his fixed and unalterable determination not to meet the Princess of Wales upon any occasion, either in public or private." Queen Charlotte was bound of course to give an official intimation to that effect to the Princess Caroline, which, on the 24th and 26th of May, 1814, brought from her letters to the queen and the Regent. In the first of these communications she intimated her intention of "making public the cause of her absence from Court at a time when the duties of her station would otherwise peculiarly demand her attendance"; while her letter to her husband contained the following intimation: "Your Royal Highness may possibly refuse to read this letter; but the world must know that I have written it, and they will see my real motives for foregoing in this instance the rights of my rank. Occasions, however, may arise (one, I trust, is far distant) when I must appear in public, and your Royal Highness must be present also. Can your Royal Highness have contemplated the full extent of your declaration? Has your Royal Highness forgotten the approaching marriage of our daughter [to the Prince of Orange] and the possibility of our coronation?" These words show that from the first Caroline had decided, coûte que coûte, when the time came to assert her position, in spite of the opposition of her husband and any obstacles which might be raised by his friends and advisers.
We have entered rather fully into this matter, because it seemed to us necessary, in order that the reader might understand the temper of Caroline, and the motives which influenced her in the extraordinary course of conduct which she afterwards thought fit to pursue. She was treated, we have seen, with the most cruel and studied insult; excluded from ceremonials at which her rank and position entitled her to be present. "Sir," said the unfortunate woman in the letter to her husband to which we have alluded, "the time you have selected for this proceeding is calculated to make it peculiarly galling. Many illustrious strangers are already arrived in England; among others, as I am informed, the illustrious heir of the house of Orange, who has announced himself to me as my future son-in-law. From their society I am unjustly excluded. Others are expected, of rank equal to your own, to rejoice with your Royal Highness in the peace of Europe. My daughter will for the first time appear in the splendour and publicity becoming the approaching nuptials of the presumptive heiress of this empire. This season your Royal Highness has chosen for treating me with great and unprovoked indignity; and of all his Majesty's subjects. I alone am prevented by your Royal Highness from appearing in my place, to partake of the general joy, and am deprived of the indulgence of those feelings of pride and affection permitted to every mother but me." Poor mother! who may help pitying her! Her most prejudiced enemy will admit that this was an eloquent and noble protest. Had she only maintained this language and attitude, we should justly assign to her a place amongst the royal martyrs of history. Naturally this barbarous, impolitic treatment soured her, as it would sour even the sweetest disposition. In an evil hour for her, and we may add for this country, she solicited and obtained permission to travel abroad.
No sooner was she freed from the restraints which had surrounded her at home, than her conduct not only makes us doubt whether she had any hand in the composition of this maternal appeal, but appears to justify the conclusions at which the commissioners of 1806 and 1813 seem to have arrived. Her temper was obstinate and wilful. She knew that she was watched; and from a spirit apparently of wanton mischief, designed with the view doubtless of annoying her enemies, she indulged in a series of the most extraordinary and undignified vagaries. She took into her service and received into her closest confidence and favour persons of the lowest position. It was impossible for rumours of her extraordinary eccentricities not to reach, not only the ears of those who detested her, but in an imperfect and incorrect degree those of the general public. That this was the case is shown by a caricature entitled, Paving the way for a Royal Divorce, published by Johnston on the 1st of October, 1816, in which we see the corpulent Regent at table with Lord Liverpool, "Old Bags"  (Chancellor Eldon), Lord Chief Justice Ellenborough, Vansittart, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and another, probably intended for Viscount Sidmouth. His Royal Highness is made by the caricaturist to say that he and his sympathizers think "we shall now succeed, having secured some evidence from the coast of Barbary. . . . I have got everything as clear as the sun at noon-day. . . . Now for a divorce as soon as possible." Lord Chancellor Eldon says, "I'll stick to your Highness through thick and thin, or never call me 'Old Bags' again as long as I live." Lord Liverpool supports him by the assurance, "I'm an unmatched negotiator, and I'll enter into a treaty with the House of Commons to secure your suit." The temper of the Commons is shown by the doubts expressed by the individual we take to be intended for Viscount Sidmouth. "I have my doubts," says this person, at the same time laying his hands on the port wine decanter, "I have my doubts and qualms of conscience, your Highness; what say you, Van?" "Oh, my lord," replies Vansittart, who is seated on the "Budget," "I have some strange touches of feeling on the subject." Up rises the hot-tempered Lord Chief Justice, upsetting a decanter of port wine, and at the same time the chair on which he has been sitting, "Don't put me in a passion with your 'qualms' and your 'touches'; they are all false, false as h—— ! I'll blow you all to the d——l if you don't stick to your master manfully!!" By the side of the prince we see, as usual, a pailful of wine bottles, and at his feet, in allusion to his notorious infidelities, an open volume entitled, "The Secret Memoirs of a Prince, by Humphrey Hedghog, Esq., 1815." By the side of the Lord Chief Justice lie three portly volumes labelled, "The Law of Divorce." It will be evident from the foregoing, that from an early period, the satirists on the popular side gave credit to the prince and his advisers for being members of a secret conspiracy for compassing the ruin of the erring and unfortunate woman.
Now what was the "evidence" to which the corpulent Regent is made to refer in the sketch before us? It was not of course evidence, but rumour; and rumour said the strangest things of the Princess Caroline. It associated her name with that of a courier,—a low Italian, named Bartolomeo Bergami; it said that she had enriched and ennobled this man and other members of his family; procured for him a barony in Sicily; decorated him with several orders of knighthood; and asserted in the plainest terms that she was living with him in a state of open and notorious adultery. These reports rendered it necessary to ascertain on what foundation they rested, and the result was that in 1818, Mr. Cooke, of the Chancery Bar, and Mr. Powell, a solicitor, were despatched into Germany and Italy to collect evidence with respect to her conduct. This inquiry, which is generally known as the "Milan Commission," seemed certainly preferable to an investigation of a more public and notorious character; and upon the evidence these gentlemen obtained was founded the "Bill of Pains and Penalties," which we shall presently have to consider.
1820.It is quite clear that the ministers of 1820 were strongly averse to the introduction of the "Bill of Pains and Penalties" which is now known to us as the "Trial of Queen Caroline." The whole odium indeed of the proceedings rested upon them at the time; but we have no reason to doubt the statement of Mr. Charles Greville, under date of 20th February, 1820, that they had offered to resign, "because the king would not hear reason." It seems at any rate tolerably certain that, although they brought forward the "Bill of Pains and Penalties" under pressure of the Crown, they did not do so until they had well-nigh exhausted every effort short of actual resignation (this dignified position they did not take) to avoid it. Mr. Wade tells us that "their first indiscretion consisted in commencing hostilities against the queen by the omission of her name in the liturgy, thereby provoking her claim to legal rights;" but this omission, which appears to us justifiable under the circumstances, Mr. Greville shows us was due to the action of the king himself. In the month of June, 1819, a communication appears to have been received from Mr. Brougham, the professional adviser of the princess, and understood to be charged with the confidential management of her affairs. The proposal contained in this communication was in substance, that her then income of £35,000 a year should be secured to her for life, instead of terminating with the demise of the crown ; and that she should undertake upon that arrangement being made to reside permanently abroad, and not to assume at any time the rank or title of Queen of England. This proposal, however, being stated to be made without any authority from the princess, or knowledge of it on her part, the Government at that time replied that there would be no indisposition at the proper time to entertain the principle on which the proposal was grounded, if it met with the approbation of her Royal Highness on the king's accession. The ministers, reverting to Mr. Brougham's proposal, offered to raise the already handsome allowance to £50,000 a year, subject to the conditions before mentioned. Caroline, however, peremptorily declined the proposal, alleging that it had been made without her knowledge or sanction. Unfortunately, too, this offer when made to Caroline herself, was coupled with the intimation that if the queen should "be so ill-advised as to come over to this country, there must be an end to all negotiations and compromise". Considering the temper and disposition of the woman, the fact that she had demanded the insertion of her name in the liturgy, the haughty assertion of her claim "to be received and acknowledged as the Queen of England," and the communication made at the same time of her desire that a royal yacht should be in readiness to receive her at Calais, it appears to us a greater mistake on the part of the ministry could scarcely have been made. It aroused her woman's nature, and flaming with the anger and resentment which she had nourished for so long a course of years, she boldly took up the gauntlet her enemies had flung at her feet, and crossed the Channel almost as soon as the astonished Government messenger himself.
The queen (for she was titular Queen of England now) arrived in London on the 7th of June: "the road was thronged with an immense multitude the whole way from Westminster Bridge to Greenwich. Carriages, carts, and horsemen followed, preceded, and surrounded her coach the whole way. She was everywhere received with the greatest enthusiasm. Women waved pocket-handkerchiefs, and men shouted wherever she passed. She travelled in an open landau, Alderman Wood sitting by her side, and Lady Ann Hamilton [the Duke of Hamilton's sister] and another woman opposite. … The queen looked exactly as she did before she left England, and seemed neither dispirited nor dismayed." In one of the popular satires of the day we see her standing on the balcony of Alderman Wood's house in South Audley Street, receiving and acknowledging the enthusiastic plaudits of her admirers. The very day she arrived at Dover, a royal message was sent down to Parliament, by which the king commended to the Lords an inquiry into the conduct of the queen ; while on the following day, Mr. Brougham read in the House of Commons a message or manifesto from his client, declaring that her return was occasioned by the necessity her enemies had laid upon her of defending her character and conduct.
The Bill of Pains and Penalties. Both parties now stood irrevocably committed to the fatal measure. A secret committee of the House of Lords proceeded to open the celebrated green bag, which contained the reports of the Milan Commission; and on the 4th of July they made their report, recommending a solemn inquiry into the conduct of the queen. Next day the Earl of Liverpool presented a "bill of pains and penalties" entitled, "An Act to deprive Her Majesty Queen Caroline Amelia Elizabeth of the title, prerogative, rights, privileges, and exemptions of Queen Consort of this realm, and to dissolve the marriage between His Majesty and the said Caroline Amelia Elizabeth" on the ground of the grossly immoral conduct therein alleged against her.
The ill-advised proceedings once commenced, no time was lost in carrying them through. On the 7th of July the Italian witnesses in support of the bill (twelve in number) landed at Dover. The object of their visit soon became known, and on emerging from the custom house they were set upon and badly beaten by a furious crowd, composed principally of women. They were lodged in a building then separating the old houses of Parliament, which, with its enclosure, was called Cotton Garden; the front faced the abbey, the rear the Thames. "The land entrance was strongly barricaded. The side facing Westminster Bridge was shut out from the public by a wall run up for the express purpose at a right angle to the Parliament stairs. Thus the only access was by the river. Here was erected a causeway to low-water mark; a flight of steps led to the interior of the inclosure. The street was guarded by a strong military force, the water side by gunboats. An ample supply of provisions was stealthily (for fear of the mob) introduced into the building; a bevy of royal cooks was sent to see that the food was of good quality, and to render it as palatable as their art could make it. About this building, in which the witnesses were immured from August till November, the London mob would hover like a cat round the cage of a canary. Such confinement would have been, intolerable to the natives of any other country, but it was quite in unison with the feelings of Italians. To them it realized their favourite 'dolce far niente.' Their only physical exertion appears to have been the indulgence in that description of dance that the Pifferari have made familiar to the Londoner." Such was the residence of the Italian witnesses against the queen, and it is certain that if they had ventured beyond its precincts they would have been torn in pieces.
The appearance which Caroline of Brunswick presented at her trial was an outrageous caricature, and is thus described by one then distinctly friendly to her cause—the Earl of Albemarle: "The peers rose as the queen entered, and remained standing until she took her seat in a crimson and gilt chair immediately in front of her counsel. Her appearance was anything but prepossessing. She wore a black dress with a high ruff, an unbecoming gipsy hat with a huge bow in front, the whole surmounted by a plume of ostrich feathers. Nature had given her light hair, blue eyes, a fair complexion, and a good-humoured expression of countenance; but these characteristics were marred by painted eyebrows, and by a black wig with a profusion of curls, which overshadowed her cheeks and gave a bold, defiant air to her features." The names of the witnesses, and possibly the precise nature of the testimony against her, would seem to have been unknown to the queen, for we have it on record that when the first witness (Teodoro Majoochi, the celebrated "Non Mi Ricordo") was placed at the bar, on the 21st of August, Her Majesty, "uttering a loud exclamation, retired hastily from the House, followed by Lady Ann Hamilton." She evidently laboured under some strong emotion, whether of surprise or displeasure, or both, seems never to have been ascertained.
Among the general public, and even in the House of Commons itself, the falsehood of all that had been alleged on oath against the queen was assumed as an undeniable axiom; the witnesses were loaded with the most opprobrious epithets, while those who had been concerned in collecting or sifting evidence were represented as conspirators or suborners. We shall see, when we come to speak of the caricatures of Robert Cruikshank, the light in which these unhappy witnesses were regarded by the graphic satirists on the popular side. Nevertheless, if their testimony is carefully read over by any unprejudiced person having any knowledge of the law of evidence, in spite of the badgering of Mr. Brougham, the admirable speech of that gentleman, and the testimony of the witnesses on the other side, I think he cannot fail to come to any other conclusion than that expressed by the then Lord Ellenborough, that Her Royal Highness was "the last woman a man of honour would wish his wife to resemble, or the father of a family would recommend as an example to his daughters. No man," said his lordship, "could put his hand on his heart and say that the queen was not wholly unfit to hold the situation which she holds." He will see too, by reference to the report of the proceedings in the "Annual Register," that of the peers who decided to vote against the second reading of the bill on the ground of inexpediency, a large majority gave it as their deliberate opinion that the case had been proved against the queen. In a very clever pictorial satire, published by S. Humphrey in 1821, the queen, Bergami, and a third figure (possibly intended for Alderman Wood) are represented as standing on a pedestal forming the apex of a slender stem labelled "Mobility," which rests on a base marked "Adultery." The whole structure depends for support on a broom (in allusion of course to Mr. Brougham) and two frail pieces of wood, labelled respectively, "Sham addresses," and "Sham processions," which in turn rest on a slender railing, while a ladder on either side, marked "Brass" and "Wood," lend a further slight support to the very insecure fabric. The superincumbent weight of the queen and Bergami breaks the frail stem in pieces, and the three figures tumble to the ground together. The back of the design is occupied with scenes and incidents detailed in the evidence. A very, clever caricature, without date (published by T. Sidebotham), I am inclined to assign to this period; and if so, it is one of the most plain spoken and telling satires ever published. It is entitled, City Scavengers Cleansing the London Streets of Impurities; a placard which has fallen in the street sufficiently explains its meaning: "By particular desire of the Society for the Suppression of Vice, D—— of K——t in the chair, ordered that the city officers do keep the streets clear of common prostitutes.——Signed, Wood, Mayor."
A more foolish and undignified proceeding, however, than this "Bill of Pains and Penalties" can scarcely be conceived. Its fate might almost have been predicted from the first. The second reading was carried on the 6th of November, by a majority of twenty-eight, but the third (for the reasons already given) by a majority of nine only; whereupon, the Earl of Liverpool said that, "had the third reading been carried by as considerable a number of peers as the second had been, he and his colleagues would have felt it their duty to persevere with the bill and to send it down to the other branch of the legislature. In the present state of the country, however, . . . they had come to the determination not to proceed further with it." The victory will be acknowledged by us now-a-days as damaging as a defeat; but the result, curious to relate, was hailed by the queen and her party as if her innocence had been triumphantly vindicated. In signing a document prepared by her counsel on the 8th of November, she wrote, "Carolina Regina," adding the words, "there, Regina still, in spite of them." The abandonment of the bill was followed by three nights of illumination; but it was observed that they were of a very partial character, wholly unlike those which had greeted the great victories by sea and land, in which the public sympathy was spontaneous and universal. The mob in some cases testified its disapproval when these signs of satisfaction were wanting; and one gentleman in Bond Street, on being repeatedly requested to "light up," placed a single rushlight in his two-pair-of-stairs window. Some of the transparencies were, as might have been expected, of a singular character. A trunk maker in the same street displayed the following new reading from Genesis: "And God said, It is not good the King should reign alone." A publican at the corner of Half Moon Street exhibited a flag whereon, in reference to the unpopular witness Teodoro Majoochi, was depicted a gallows with the following inscription:—
"Q. What's that for?
An enthusiastic cheesemonger at the top of Great Queen Street displayed a transparency on which he had inscribed the following verses:—
"Some friends of the devil
The caricaturists of course were not idle, and the trial of Queen Caroline provoked a perfect legion of pictorial satires. The queen's victory is celebrated in one of the contemporary caricatures (published by John Marshall, junior) under the title of The Queen Caroline Running down the Royal George; while on the ministerial side it is recorded (among others) by a far more elaborate and valuable performance (published by G. Humphrey), called, The Steward's Court of the Manor of Torre Devon, which contains an immense number of figures, and wherein the queen is seated on a black ram in the midst of one of the popular processions, the members of which carry poles bearing pictorial records of the various events brought out in evidence against her. It is one of the peculiarities of our "Glorious Constitution," that while the ministers who acted under his direction incurred all the blame, the prime instigator of all these exposures was enabled to shelter himself behind the backs of his "advisers." The ministers were unpopular,—they deserved to be so, for, whatever might have been the consequences to themselves so far as loss of office was concerned, they should have refused from the first to lend themselves to the publication of a scandal so utterly grievous. The king himself at this time was far from unpopular; the odium he had incurred the previous year by the thanks he had caused to be conveyed to Major Trafford, "and the officers, non-commissioned officers, and privates" of the yeomanry who had signalized themselves in the massacre at Manchester (an outrage which, by the way, led to a number of pictorial satires), seemed to have wholly passed away. He was at Ascot only two days before the queen's arrival, and "was always cheered by the mob as he went away. One day only a man in the crowd called out "Where's the Queen?" Again, we find on the same authority, that on the night of the 6th of February, 1821: "The king went to the play (Drury Lane) for the first time, the Dukes of York and Clarence and a great suite with him. He was received with immense acclamations, the whole pit standing up, hurrahing and waving their hats. The boxes were very empty at first, for the mob occupied the avenues to the theatre, and those who had engaged boxes could not get to them. The crowd on the outside was very great. . . . A few people called 'The Queen!' but very few. A man in the gallery called out, 'Where's your wife, Georgy?' His reception at Covent Garden the following night appears to have been equally loyal and gratifying.
The truth was, that the numerous and truly honest people who sympathized with Queen Caroline, did so from little admiration for herself, but because she had been the victim of twenty-five years' persecution; because, however great her follies, they had been grievously provoked; and above all, because they felt that the man who was her most powerful and relentless persecutor, was the very last who was justified in casting a stone against her. The ministerialists and their supporters, however, attributed the sympathy which was shown by her professed admirers exclusively to a political origin, and thus stigmatized the motives of their opponents (with more justice than poetry) in one of the jingling rhymes of the day:—
"What's the Queen to Reformists? as Queen was to France,
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And here we drop for the present the subject of Queen Caroline, a subject we have approached with caution, although conscious that it can be by no means omitted from a work treating of graphic satires of the nineteenth century. That she should now accept the £50,000 per annum which she had previously refused, will probably not surprise the reader. The end of a career so strangely undignified will be seen when we come to treat of the caricatures of George Cruikshank.
The duel between the Dukes of Buckingham and Bedford; the erection of the statue of Achilles in Hyde Park; the new Marriage Act; the second French invasion of Spain under the Duc d'Angoulème; the Tenth Hussars; Miss Foote, the celebrated actress; Edmund Kean; and the commercial distress of 1825-6, afford subjects for the pencils of the caricaturists, and will be mentioned in the chapters which relate to the graphic satires of the brothers Cruikshank.
IndependenceThe pictorial satirists were kept fully employed by the political events of 1827 and 1828. The former year beheld the sanguinary Greek war of independence. Things turned out badly for the over-matched Greeks, until at last Great Britain, France, and Russia interposed with Turkey on their behalf. The proposals offered were such as the Turks refused to entertain. The Porte, in refusing them, maintained that, though mediation might be allowable in matters of difference between independent states, it was utterly inadmissible as between a power and its revolted subjects. The allied powers then proposed an armistice, demanding a reply within fifteen days, plainly intimating that in the event of refusal or silence (which would be construed into a refusal), they should resort to measures for enforcing a suspension of hostilities.
Battle of NavarinoIn the meantime arrived at Navarino the Egyptian fleet, consisting of ninety-two sail, including fifty-one transports, having on board 5,000 fresh troops. Ibraham Pacha's attempt to hoodwink the British, and to land these troops at Patras, was foiled by the vigilance and determination of the English admiral. Disappointed in these attempts, he proceeded, in the teeth of the warnings which had been given him, to execute his orders to put down the insurrection on land, and carried them out with merciless atrocity,—ravaging the Morea with fire and sword. Resolved now to bring matters to an issue, the combined fleets in October, 1827, entered the harbour. As was expected would happen, the Turks fired upon them, and then ensued the famous battle of Navarino, in which, after a four hours' engagement, the Turkish and Egyptian fleets were annihilated, and the bay strewed with the remains of their ruined vessels.
Russia declared war against Turkey the following year, and we meet with many miscellaneous caricatures having reference to the conflict which followed. In one, published by Maclean (without date) entitled, Russian Bears' Grease, or a Peep into Futurity, we see the Russian bear running off with Greece in spite of England, France, and Austria. Another (also without date), is labelled The Descent of the Great Bear, or the Mussulmans in a Quandary. In a third (also without date), called The Nest in Danger, we see Turkey sitting on a nest marked "Greece" disturbed by Russia, whilst the British lion stands looking on at no great distance, discontentedly gnawing a bone labelled "Navarino." By the time peace was concluded between the belligerents in 1829, England would seem to have realized the fact that she had been made the tool of Russia, and this is the obvious idea intended to be conveyed by the satirist in another caricature (also without date, but bearing obvious reference to the same subject). The Porte is represented in the act of presenting a bill of indemnification to George the Fourth.
Catholic Relief Bill.The principal political topic remaining to be noticed is the Catholic Relief Bill of 1829, a measure forced upon the king, the ministry, the church, and the aristocracy by the imperative force of circumstances, directed by the prescience of a minister who, sharing at first all the objections of his colleagues, felt nevertheless that a large portion of his Majesty's subjects were labouring under disabilities and fettered by restrictions inconsistent with the boasted liberties of a free people; and that such a measure, in the face of the political changes which had been loudly demanded for a long time past, could no longer be delayed. It is not surprising, however, that Wellington and his colleagues, following out the maxims of a Whig policy, should be viewed by their own party somewhat in the light of traitors. Accordingly we see them figuring in this character in some of the caricatures of the day, one of which (one of the "Paul Pry" series), published by Geans in 1829, may be cited as an example of the rest, and shows them to us in the act of Burking Old Mrs. Constitution, aged 141.
In this and the two preceding chapters we have attempted to give an account of some of the leading events of the first thirty years of the century, illustrating them by reference to a few of the miscellaneous caricatures of the period. We have adopted this method of arrangement because, if our theory be correct, it was during this period that the art of caricature continued to flourish, and it is from this period that we date its speedy decline and downfall. We think that the prime cause of this decline may be traced to the fact that George Cruikshank, the best of nineteenth century satirists, had by this time resigned the art to follow his new employment of an illustrator of books; we think, too, that caricature received an additional impetus in its downward progress by the secession from the ranks of its professors of the veteran Thomas Rowlandson, who, although he did not die until 1827, had virtually given up caricature in favour of book illustration many years before. Further illustration of some of the events already related, and of others to which we have no occasion at present to refer, will be found in the chapters devoted to the work of Isaac Robert Cruikshank and his brother George.
A considerable number of the caricatures which belong to the first quarter of the century have an anonymous origin ; whilst a large proportion are due to William Heath, who, either in his own name, or often under the distinguishing hieroglyphic of "Paul Pry," contributed largely to the political and social satires of his day. Other caricaturists of the period were H. Heath (hundreds of whose comic sketches were collected and published by Charles Tilt), Theodore Lane, and his friends Isaac Robert and George Cruikshank. To these names we must add those of the last century men who continued their work into the present, James Gillray, Thomas Rowlandson, George Moutard Woodward, C. Williams, Henry William Bunbury, Robert Dighton, and others. Some idea of the industry of the nineteenth century satirists may be gathered from the fact that the "Paul Pry" series of political satires of 1829-30, alone number some fifty plates, which in our day can rarely be purchased at three times their original cost.
* * * * * * * *
Theodore Lane.][From "Life of an Actor," 1824
"THE GALLERY.—POWERFUL ATTRACTION OF TALENTS!"
Theodore Lane.][From "Life of an Actor," 1824
"THE NON. PAYING AUDIENCE."
[Face p. 85.
of the rippling stream out of which he has been accustomed to whip his favourite speckle-backed beauties. The painting from which this engraving was taken was the work of Theodore Lane, who, although his work is limited to the short space of five or six years, seems to call for special mention by virtue of his tragic ending, the short span allotted to his life and labours, and the superiority of his talent and genius to those of many of his contemporaries. Lane was literally a comic artist of the nineteenth century, having been born at Isleworth in 1800. He was apprenticed to a colourer of prints at Battle Bridge, named Barrow; and, shortly after completing his time, produced (in 1822) six designs illustrative of "The Life of an Actor," and with these in a small portfolio under his arm, went out into the world to seek his fortune as other comic artists have done before him and since. Pierce Egan, at this time, was the most popular man in town; his name (on very insufficient literary merits) was identified with the success of the most famous book of the century—we allude to the "Life in London." To his residence in Spann's Buildings, St. Pancras, Lane betook himself; showed him his sketches, and said if Egan would only undertake the letterpress, he should find no difficulty in getting Ackermann, Sherwood, or any of the art publishers of the day, to undertake its publication. But Egan's hands were full, and he declined the offer. Two years later on, author and artist again met, and the result was that "The Life of an Actor, Peregrine Proteus," made its appearance, "illustrated by twenty-seven coloured scenes and nine woodcuts, representing the vicissitudes of the stage. The publisher was Arnold, of Tavistock Street, Covent Garden, who paid the young artist one hundred and fifty pounds fifteen shillings for his share of the work. "The Life of an Actor" was published at a guinea, and dedicated to Edmund Kean; and a contemporary critic describes it as "one of the best exemplifications of Mr. Egan's peculiar talent It is impossible for us," he continues, "to do justice to the spirit of the designs, many of which would [of course] not discredit the pencil of Hogarth." Lane's association with one of the most noted sporting characters of the day opened the way to him for further engagements, and for another work, entitled, "A Complete Panorama of the Sporting World," he executed thirteen original etchings, and an equal number of designs on wood.
Among the number of Theodore Lane's social satires may be mentioned Scientific Pursuits, or Hobbyhorse Races to the Temple of Fame, four folio plates; The Parson's Clerk (a comic song), four illustrations in ridicule of cant and hypocrisy; Legal Illustrations (seventy humorous applications of law terms); The Masquerade at the Argyll Rooms (a large plate full of vigour, life, and character); New Year's Morning: the Old One out, and the New One coming in, a party of topers, one of whom—the chairman, with the empty punchbowl on his head (representing "the old one out")—merrily points at the waiter bringing a full bowl ("the new one") in; Sunday Morning—the Barber's Shop; Shilling fare to a Christmas Dinner, or Just in Pudding Time; The Rival Whiskers; and Amorous, Clamorous, Uproarious, and Glorious (a pair of admirable and amusing satires of the prevailing features, vices, and follies of the day); Crowding to the Pit and Contending for a Seat (two capital theatrical subjects). Lane also made a sketch entitled, Paul Pry's First Night in a Boarding House, intended to be succeeded by eleven others, the publication of which was however prevented by the death of Listen. McLean published a large and clever design, bearing the somewhat lengthy title of Law Gorging on the Spoils of Fools and Rogues, and Honest Men among Knavery, producing Repentance and Ruin; or, the Fatal Effects of Legal Rapacity,—wherein the highway of Law conducts to Ruin through a series of toll-gates labelled respectively, "Opinion of Counsel," "Injunction," "Filing the Bill," "Consultation," "Procrastination," etc.
Like his contemporaries the Cruikshanks, with whom he was familiar, Theodore Lane mixed freely with the young bloods of his day, termed in the slang of his time "Corinthians," and the results are shown in his designs. He might often be seen at the "Craven's Head," in Drury Lane, kept by a host known to his patrons by the familiar title of "Billy Oxberry"; at the Saturday night harmonic meetings held at the "Kean's Head," in Russell Court, Drury Lane; at "The Wrekin," in Broad Court, Long Acre, at that time frequented by gentlemen of the Press; at "The Harp," in Russell Street, Drury Lane, a well known house of call for actors, and appropriately immortalised in one of his illustrations to "The Life of an Actor"; at the "Cider Cellar"; at the "Fives Court"; at the numerous "Masquerades" of the day; at any place of resort, in fact, which offered studies of life and character or subjects of social satire. He figures in his own sketch of The Masquerade at the Argyll Rooms, where we recognise him (in one of the right hand boxes) in a white sheet, a tall paper cap on his head, and a staff in his hand. His impersonations were sometimes singularly original. At one of these "masquerades," for instance, he represented a "frozen-out gardener" soliciting charity, and holding in his hand a cabbage covered with icicles; at another, he appeared as a hospital "out-patient," wearing a hideous mask (designed by himself) representing some dreadful disease, from which the bystanders recoiled in horror and amazement. With all this drollery Lane kept himself well out of mischief, and was moreover, in days when young and old were more or less inclined to be topers, a strictly temperate man.
But Lane's talents were not confined to comic etching or designs on wood. He was also an artist in oil and water colour. He painted in oils The Drunken Gardener; The Organ of Murder, a clumsy, nervous craniologist feeling his own head in doubt and perplexity to ascertain whether the dreadful "organ" is developed in himself; An Hour before the Duel (exhibited at the Institution in Pall Mall). Other subjects of his pictures were: The Poet reading his Manuscript Play of Five Acts to a Friend; Too many Cooks Spoil the Broth; The Nightmare; The Mathematician's Abstraction (the latter purchased by Lord Northwick). His most ambitious work in oils (upwards of seventeen feet in length) was called A Trip to Ascot Races. His last work, The Enthusiast (the first we have mentioned), was exhibited at Somerset House at the time of his death.
The fate of this clever young artist and satirist was both singular and tragical. It appears that on the 21st of February, 1828, Theodore Lane, who then resided in Judd Street, Brunswick Square, called upon his brother-in-law, Mr. Wakefield, a surgeon of Battle Bridge, intending to proceed in the latter's gig to Hampstead, to join a party of friends who had gone there to spend the day. Mr. Wakefield having to visit a patient in Manchester Street, Gray's Inn Lane, drove there with his brother-in-law, and this was the last time he was seen alive. Close to the place was a horse bazaar, which the artist appears to have entered by way of passing the time. The horse and trap were there, but no trace of poor Lane; and on search being made, his body was found lying lifeless at the foot of the auctioneer's stand. He appears to have wandered into the betting-room, and by some unexplained means or other fallen backwards through an insufficiently protected skylight. The clever head was battered so completely out of recognition that he was only identified by his card-case. That Lane was a man of unusual promise is shown by the fact that amongst the subscribers for the benefit of the widow and children of the deceased, we find the names of Sir Thomas Lawrence, president of the Royal Academy; F. Chantrey, R.A.; George Westmacott; Cooper, the celebrated animal painter; and Leahy, the painter of the celebrated picture of "Mary Stuart's Farewell to France." The remains of this ill-fated, talented young fellow lie in the burial ground of old St. Pancras.
- "Fifty Years of my Life," by George Thomas, Earl of Albemarle, vol. i. p. 270.
- "Annual Register," 1813.
- Ibid. (Chronicle), 342.
- See the letter of the Princess of Wales, "Annual Register," 1813 (Chronicle), 342.
- See speech of Mr. Whitbread, "Annual Register," 1813 (20).
- "Annual Register," 1813 (Chronicle), 345.
- "Annual Register," 1813, p. 24.
- Sir John and Lady Douglas.
- Letter from the queen to the Princess of Wales of 23rd May, 1814.—"Annual Register," 1814, p. 349.
- So called because he carried home with him, in sundry bags, the cases pending his judgments.
- Wade's, "British History," p. 765.
- See "Greville Memoirs," vol. i. p. 24 (February 24th).
- "Annual Register," 1820, p. 135.
- Ibid., pp. 131, 132.
- "Greville Memoirs," vol. i. p. 28.
- "Fifty Years of my Life," by George Thomas, Earl of Albemarle, vol. ii. p. 123.
- "Annual Register," 1820, p. 986.
- See caricatures of Robert Cruikshank, 1820.
- "Annual Register," 1820, p. 1149; see also the impartial opinion of the Duke of Portland, "Greville Memoirs," vol. i. p. 56.
- See "Annual Register," 1820, p. 1139 et seq.
- This of course may not be the case. The Duke of Kent, we know, was dead at the time, and Wood, we believe, was not Lord Mayor. He had been Lord Mayor some time before, and the satire may possibly allude to some order made at that time. At the same time, I find the caricature amongst those assigned (in the large but badly arranged collection to which I have present access) to this particular period.
- "Annual Register," 1820 .
- There is a custom in the Manor of Torre Devon, that when a copyhold tenant dies, his widow has her free-bench in his land, but forfeits her estate on committing the offence with which the queen was charged; on her coming however into court riding backward on a black ram, and repeating the formula mentioned in the design, the steward is bound to reinstate her. Without this explanation the meaning of this telling satire would not be understood. For the formula (which cannot be repeated here) I must refer the reader to Jacob's Law Dictionary, ed. 1756, title, "Free Bench."
- "Greville Memoirs," vol. i. p. 27.
- Ibid., p. 43.
- Unlike George Cruikshank, Rowlandson seldom dropped caricature in his book illustration. When he does so, as in his designs to "Naples and the Compagna Felice," he shows (as in his water colour drawings) his wonderful graphic powers. His illustrated books are rare, and command good prices. William Coombe's English "Dance of Death" and "Dance of Life" (I refer of course to first editions) can only now be purchased at £14.