Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/82

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
28
ENGLISH CARICATURISTS.

this absurd contretemps is unable to restrain his laughter, the result of which is that he blows a stream of tea into the left ear of the man who has lost his wig, at the same time setting his own pigtail alight in the adjoining candle. All these disasters, passing in rapid succession from left to right, are the direct "consequences" of one unfortunate pinch of snuff.

The year 1804 witnessed the advent of a performer whose theatrical reputation, notwithstanding the wonderful sensation it created for a couple of seasons, was not destined to survive his childhood. The brief furore he excited, enabled his friends to lay by for him a considerable fortune, which enabled him to regard the memory of his immature triumphs and subsequent failures with resignation. Master Betty. Master Betty, "the Young Roscius," was not quite thirteen years of age when he made his first appearance at Covent Garden on the 1st of December, 1804, as Achmet in Barbarossa. He played alternately at the two great houses; twenty-eight nights at Drury Lane brought £17,210 into the treasury, whilst the receipts at Covent Garden during the same period are supposed to have been equally large. A rough caricature of 1804, bearing the signature "I. B., " depicts the child standing with one foot on Drury Lane and the other on Covent Garden, with a toy whip in one hand and a rattle in the other, while two full-grown actors of real merit bemoan the decadence of public taste on the pavement below. Some years later on the pair might have said with Byron,—

"Though now, thank Heaven! the Rosciomania's o'er,
 And full-grown actors are endured once more."[1]

The leading home political incident of 1806 was the impeachment and acquittal of Lord Melville, an event which is dealt with by Gillray, and also by Rowlandson in his graphic satire of The Acquittal, or Upsetting the Porter Pot, both artists alluding to Whitbread, the brewer, the head of the advanced Liberals, and one of the principal movers of Lord Melville's impeachment.


  1. "English Bards and Scotch Reviewers."