Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/147

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CATHOLIC RELIEF BILL.

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