English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the Nineteenth Century/Chapter 2
MISCELLANEOUS CARICATURES AND SUBJECTS OF CARICATURE, 1800—1811.
The attention of the public during the first fifteen years of the century was mainly directed to the progress and fortunes of the great national enemy, Napoleon Bonaparte. The hatred with which he was regarded in this country can scarcely be appreciated in these days; and in order that the cause of this bitter antipathy may be
Proposed Method of arrangement.Although Gillray began his work in 1769,—thirty years before our century commenced, and Rowlandson five years later on, in 1774, their labours were continued some years after 1799, and are so interwoven, so to speak, with the work of their immediate successors, that it is almost impossible in a work dealing with nineteenth century caricaturists to omit all mention of them. In collecting too materials for the present treatise, we necessarily met with many anonymous satires, without signature, initials, or distinguishing style, which may be, and some of which are probably due to artists whose pencils were at work before the century began. Even if equal in all cases to the task of assigning these satires to the particular hands which designed and executed them, we submit that little real service would be rendered to the cause of graphic satire. It appears to us therefore that the most convenient method will be to indicate in this and the following chapters some of the leading topics of caricature during the first thirty years of the century, and to cite in illustration of our subject such of the work of anonymous or other artists, for which no better place can be assigned in other divisions of the work.
James Gillray.][June 20th, 1789.
SHAKSPEARE SACRIFICED, OR THE OFFERING TO AVARICE.
Alderman Boydell, as High Priest within the magic circle, preparing an oblation to Shakspeare; the demon of Avarice, seated upon the List of Subscribers, hugging his money-bags; Puck on his shoulders blowing bubbles of "immortality" to the promoter of the "Gallery" about to be published. Shakespeare himself, obscured by the Aldermanic fumes. Figures of Shakspearean characters above.
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18th Brumaire.The close of the century had been signalized in France by the memorable revolution of "the eighteenth Brumaire." The Directory had ceased to exist, and a provisional consular commission, consisting of "Citizens" Sieyes, Ducos, and Bonaparte, was appointed. On the 13th of December, the legislative committees presented the new constitution to the nation, the votes against it being 1,562 as against 3,012,659 in its favour. Bonaparte was nominated first consul for ten, and Cambaceres and Lebrun (nominal) second and third consuls for five years.
Although Bonaparte, as soon as he was appointed First Consul, made direct overtures to the king of England with a view to peace, he had himself to thank if his overtures met with no corresponding return. To accomplish the revolution of the "eighteenth Brumaire," he had found it necessary to quit Egypt. The English knew the French occupation of Egypt was intended as a direct menace to British interests in India. Lord Granville, therefore, in his official reply, without assuming to prescribe a form of government to France, plainly but somewhat illogically intimated that the "restoration of the ancient line of princes, under whom France had enjoyed so many centuries of prosperity, would afford the best possible guarantee for the maintenance of peace between the two countries." This New Year's greeting on the part of Lord Granville put an end, as might have been expected, to all further communications.
The French, however, had no business in Egypt, and England was resolved at any cost to drive them out of that country. With this object in view, the armament under the command of Sir Ralph Abercrombie effected its disembarkation at Aboukir on the 8th of March, 1801. A severe though indecisive action followed five days afterwards. On the 20th was fought the decisive battle of Alexandria. General Hutchinson, on the death of the English commander, followed up the victory with so much vigour and celerity, that early in the autumn the French army capitulated, on The French driven out of Egyptcondition of being conveyed to France with all its arms, artillery, and baggage. The capitulation was signed just in time to save French honour; for immediately after the conclusion of the treaty, a second British force, under the command of Sir David Baird, arrived from India by way of the Red Sea. Bonaparte's favourite project of making Egypt an entrepôt for the conquest of Hindostan was thus most effectually checkmated.
On the 1st of October, 1801, preliminaries of peace between France and Great Britain were signed in Downing Street; on the 10th, General Lauriston, aide-de-camp to the First Consul, having arrived with the ratification of these preliminaries, the populace took the horses from his carriage and drew it to Downing Street. That night and the following there was a general illumination in London.
The "preliminaries" referred to were those of the very unsatisfactory "Peace of Amiens," as it was called. Its terms, by no means flattering to this country, were shortly these: France was to retain all her conquests; while, on the other hand, the acquisitions made by England during the war were to be given up. Malta and its dependencies were to be restored (under certain restrictions) nominally to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem; the French were to evacuate Naples and the Roman States; and the British Porto Ferrago, and all the ports possessed by them in the Mediterranean and the Adriatic.All this time a violent paper war had been maintained between the English press and the Moniteur, the official organ of the Consular Government. In the month of August, 1802, Bonaparte prohibited the circulation of the English newspapers, and immediately after the issue of the order, the coffee houses and reading rooms were visited by his police, who carried away every English journal upon which they could lay their hands. By way of answer
James Gillray.]Sept., 1796.
A PEEP AT CHRISTIE'S, OR TALLY-HO AND HIS NIMENEY PIMENEY
TAKING THE MORNING LOUNGE.
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The denouement was not long delayed. On the 13th of March, 1803, occurred the extraordinary and well-known scene between the First Consul and the English ambassador, Lord Whitworth. Bonaparte, in the presence of a numerous and astonished Court, vehemently accused England of breach of faith in not carrying out the provisions of the treaty, by still remaining in possession of Malta. The episode appears to have been of an extraordinary character, and the violence and ferocity of Bonaparte's language and behaviour, maintained till the very close of the interview, must have contrasted strangely with the coolness of the English ambassador.
The restoration of Malta to the Knights of St. John was of course a mere nominal restitution, for, except in name, the Knights of St. John had ceased to exist. The First Consul really wanted the island for himself; and while he accused us of breach of faith, was himself acting all the while contrary to the spirit of the treaty of Amiens. While requiring that we should drive the royalist emigrants from our shores, he demanded that the English press should be deprived of its liberty of speaking in such frank terms of himself and his policy. His unfriendly conduct did not end here. At this very time he was actively employed in fomenting rebellion in Ireland, and in planting (under the nominal character of consuls) spies along our coast, whose treacherous objects were accidentally discovered by the seizure of the secret instructions issued to one of these fellows at Dublin. "You are required," said this precious document, "to furnish a plan of the ports of your district, with a specification of the soundings for mooring vessels. If no plan of the ports can be procured, you are to point out with what wind vessels can come in and go out, and what is the greatest draught of water with which vessels can enter the river deeply laden."
Still there was no actual breach of the nominal peace between the two countries until the 12th of May, on which day Lord Whitworth left Paris. He landed at Dover on the 20th, meeting there General Audreossi, Napoleon's minister to the English Court, on the point of embarking for France.
England declares War.For two days before, that is to say on the 18th of May, 1803, England had issued her declaration of war against France. In this document, our government alleged that the surrender of Malta to the knights of St. John of Jerusalem had been rendered impossible by the action of France and Spain, who had destroyed the independence of the Order itself. Reference was made to Bonaparte's attempts to interfere with the liberty of the English press, and the indignities he had offered to our ambassador; but the real ground of quarrel was to be found in an official gasconade of Bonaparte's, in which he declared that "Britain could not contend single handed against France," a vainglorious boast, which (in those days at least) touched a chord which thrilled the patriotic feelings of every Englishman that loved his country.
Napoleon's next step—a simply detestable action—was quite in accordance with the faithless policy which he pursued towards this country. The treaty of Amiens had induced crowds of English to cross the Channel, and on the specious pretext that two French ships had been captured prior to the actual declaration of war, he issued a decree on the 22nd of May, 1803, for the arrest and imprisonment of all Englishmen in France, over eighteen and under sixty years of age, all subjects of the king of England between those ages being considered, for the purpose of this outrageous order, as forming part of the English militia. This measure was carried out with the utmost rigour, and the eleven thousand English who thus became prisoners of war were deprived of their liberty fifteen years, and regained it only in 1814.The feeling of the nation at this time may be judged by the debates in the Houses of Parliament. In the Commons, Mr. Grey
The following year saw the final end of the great French Revolution; the names of the puppet "second" and "third" consuls had been long omitted from the public acts of the French Government. The motives of this omission were soon abundantly apparent; and in the month of May, 1804, Bonaparte was proclaimed Emperor of the French.
Some writers have doubted whether Napoleon entertained any serious intention of invading this country; but to doubt such intention would be really to doubt whether Nelson fell at Trafalgar, for that crushing defeat was simply the sequel and outcome of the collapse of the emperor's plans. The details of the invasion scheme were fully explained to General Sir Neil Campbell by Napoleon himself at Elba, in 1814, and afterwards continued by him in precisely similar terms to O'Meara at St. Helena. Those plans were defeated by the suspicions and vigilance of Lord Nelson; by his habit of acting promptly upon his suspicions; by the alacrity with which the Admiralty of the day obeyed his warnings; by the prescience of Lord Collingwood; and by the consequent intercepting of the combined French and Spanish fleets off Ferrol by Sir Robert Calder, in July, 1806. The moment this happened, Napoleon saw that his game—so far at least as England was concerned—was at an end; and fertile in resources, he immediately carried out the second part of his programme. Then followed, as we know, the campaign of Austerlitz, the treaty of Presburg, the war with Prussia, and finally the battle of Jena, in October, 1806.
Berlin Decree.Ever bent on humiliating and crippling the resources of England, Napoleon on the 1st of November, 1806, issued his memorable "Berlin Decree," containing eleven clauses, of which this country formed the exclusive topic. By it, all trade and correspondence with the British Isles was prohibited; all letters and packets at the post office, addressed to England, or to an Englishman, or "written in English," were to be seized; every subject of England found in any of the countries occupied by French troops or those of their allies, was to be made prisoner of war; all warehouses, merchandise, and property belonging to a subject of England were declared lawful prize; all trading in English merchandise forbidden; every article belonging to England, or coming from her colonies, or of her manufacture, was declared good prize; and English vessels were excluded from every European port. This outrageous "decree" Bonaparte imposed upon every country that fell under the iron sway of his military despotism.The policy, therefore, of the emperor towards England, which was contrary to all the usages of civilized warfare, will explain
NAPOLEON FORTY-EIGHT HOURS AFTER LANDING.
"Ha, my little Boney! what dost think of Johnny Bull now? Plunder Old England, hay? Make French slaves of us all, hay? Ravish all our wives and daughters, hay? O, Lord help that silly head! To think that Johnny Bull would ever suffer those lanthorn jaws to become King of Old England's Roast Beef and Plum Pudding!"
JOHN BULL OFFERING LITTLE BONEY FAIR PLAY.
Bonaparte—"I'm a-coming! I'm a-coming!"
John Bull—"You're a-coming!
If you mean to invade us, why make such a route?
I say, Little Boney,—why don't you come out?
Yes, d—— you, why don't you come out ?"
FIGURES FROM GILLRAY'S NAPOLEONIC CARICATURES.
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The tone of the English caricaturists may be gathered from one of the best of Woodward's satires, published in 1807. It is entitled A Political Fair, in which the various shows are labelled Russian, Danish, Swedish, Westphalian, Austrian, Dutch, Spanish, and even American. The best show in the fair is kept of course by John Bull & Co., whilst Bonaparte is the proprietor of a humble stall, whereat gingerbread kings and queens are sold wholesale and retail by his Imperial Majesty. The same artist, in another but distinctly inferior satire (published in November, 1807), gives us The Gallick Storehouse for English Shipping: on one side we see Napoleon accumulating vast stores of Spanish, Danish, Dutch, and Swedish vessels, intended to annihilate the naval power of England—the shipbuilder, however, shrugs his shoulders and suggests it is but time thrown away, for as fast as the ships are built, John Bull "claps them into his storehouse over the way." The satire was suggested of course by the victory of Trafalgar in October, 1805; by Sir J. Duckworth's capture of French shipping in January, 1806; and by the surrender of the Danish fleet after the bombardment of Copenhagen, in September, 1807.
In a caricature published by Walker in 1808, we see Joseph Bonaparte (one of these Imperial ginger-bread monarchs) driven from Madrid by Spanish flies; the satire is entitled Spanish Flies, or Boney taking an Immoderate Dose, and has reference to the results Battle of Baylen.of the Battle of Baylen, in Andalusia, one of the very few victories ever obtained by the Spaniards against the French, where a division of 14,000 men surrendered to Castanos. This was on the 20th of July, and nine days afterwards Joseph retreated to Burgos with the crown jewels. The wretched Spaniards, however, were incapable of improving their victory; and General Castanos instead of following up the retreating enemy, went to Seville to fulfil a vow he had made of dedicating his unexpected victory to St. Ferdinand, on whose tomb he deposited the crown of laurel presented to him by his grateful countrymen. Of the Bonaparte caricatures of this year, no less than nineteen are due to the pencil of Thomas Rowlandson, and will be found fully described in Mr. Joseph Grego's exhaustive workupon that artist and his works.The year 1809 witnessed the divorce from Josephine, and the marriage of the emperor to Marie Louise. The purposes for which
Battle of Barossa.In March, 1811, was fought the battle of Barossa; while the same month Massena, finding it difficult to maintain his army in a devastated country, instead of fulfilling his vain-glorious boast of driving "the English into their native element," began his own retreat from Santarem, abandoning part of his baggage and heavy artillery. Marching in a solid mass, his rear protected by one or two divisions, he retired towards the Mondego, preserving his army from any great serious disaster, though watchfully and vigorously pursued by Lord Wellington. The skilful generalship of the French marshal elicited of course no encomiums from the English caricaturists. On the contrary, we see (in "The Scourge" of 1st May, 1811) Wellington in the act of basting a French goose before a huge fire, a British bayonet forming the spit. While basting the goose with one hand, the English general holds over the fire in the other a frying-pan filled with French generals, some of whom—to escape the overpowering heat—are leaping into the fire; another British officer (probably intended for General Graham) blows the flames with a pair of bellows labelled "British bravery." Napoleon appears in a stew-pan over an adjoining boiler, while we find Marshal Massena himself in a pickle-jar below. This satire is entitled, British Cookery, or Out of the Frying-pan into the Fire.
Napoleon's Star begins to wane. The star of Napoleon was beginning to wane in 1812. The snow made its first appearance in Russia on the 13th of October of that year, and the French emperor already commenced his preparations for retreat. This is referred to in a very clever caricature published by Tegg on the 1st of December, 1812, wherein we find General Frost shaving Boney with a razor marked "Russian steel." Napoleon stands up to his knees in snow, and out of the nostrils of the snow fiend [General Frost] issue blasts labelled "North," "East," "Snow," and "Sleet." Seven days later on, we meet with a roughly-executed cartoon, Polish Diet with French Dessert, wherein we see Napoleon basted by General Benningsen, the spit being turned by a Russian bear. This caricature, no doubt, has reference to the disastrous defeat by Benningsen of the French advanced guard, thirty thousand strong, under Murat, on the 18th of October, 1812, when fifteen hundred prisoners, thirty-eight cannon, and the whole of the baggage of the corps, besides other trophies, fell into the victors' hands.
The retreat from Moscow is referred to in a satire published by Thomas Tegg on the 7th of March, 1813, labelled, The Corsican Bloodhound beset by the Bears of Russia; wherein Napoleon is represented as a mongrel bloodhound with a tin kettle tied to his tail, closely pursued by Russian bears. Various papers are flying out of the kettle, labelled "Oppression," "Famine," "Frost," "Destruction," "Death," "Horror," "Mortality," "Annihilation." "Push on, my lads," says one of the pursuers. "No grumbling; keep scent of him; no sucking of paws this winter, here is food for the bears in all the Russias." The emperor, in truth, had the narrowest escape from being made a prisoner by the Cossacks, a fact alluded to in another caricature published by Tegg in June, 1813, entitled, Nap nearly Nab'd, or a Retreating Jump just in time. Here, the emperor and one of his marshals are depicted leaping out of window, at the very moment when a Cossack with his lance appears outside the palings. "Vite,"says the marshal, in the peculiar patois adopted by the English caricaturists of the early part of the century, "Courez, mon Empereur, ce Diable de Cossack, dey spoil our dinner!!!"
The Bulletin.Napoleon collected his marshals around him at Smorgoni, on the 5th of December, 1812, and dictated a bulletin which developed the horrors of the retreat, and explained to them his reasons for returning to Paris. "I quit you," he said, "but go to seek three hundred thousand men." He then proceeded to lay the blame on the King of Westphalia, and his' trusted and tried friend the Due d'Abrantes; alleged that English torches had turned Moscow into a heap of ashes; and added (with greater truthfulness) that the cold had done the rest of the mischief. He entrusted the command to Murat, and bidding them farewell set out, accompanied only by Generals Coulaincourt. Duroc, and Mouton, the Mameluke Rustan, a captain of the Polish lancers, and an escort of Neapolitan horsemen. This event is referred to in a caricature, published by S. W. Fores on the 1st of January, 1813, entitled, Boney returning from Russia covered with Glory, leaving his army in comfortable winter quarters. Napoleon and Coulaincourt are seated in a sleigh driven by another general in jack boots, with a tremendous cocked hat on his head, a huge sword by his side, and a formidable whip in his hand. Coulaincourt inquires, "Will your Majesty write the bulletin?" "No," replies Napoleon; "you write it. Tell them we left the army all well, quite gay; in excellent quarters; plenty of provisions; that we travelled in great style; received everywhere with congratulations; and that I had almost completed the repose of Europe" (a favourite expression of his). By way of contrast to these grandiloquent phrases, the eye is attracted to the surroundings. The ground is thickly coated with snow; in the foreground, two famished wretches cut and devour raw flesh from a dead horse. On all sides lie dead and dying men and animals, while in the distance we behold the flying and demoralized troops chased by a cloud of Cossacks. The English caricaturists follow the emperor into the sanctity of his private life; they depict in their own homely but forcible fashion the astonishment of the empress at his unexpected return, and the disgust of young "Boney the Second," who not only expresses surprise that his imperial sire had forgotten his promise to "bring him some Russians to cut up," but suggests that they seem to have "cut him up" instead. These incidents are described in a satire entitled, Naps Glorious Return; or, the Conclusion of the Russian campaign, published by Tegg, in June, 1813.
The crushing defeat of Vitoria, the crowning disaster of Leipzig—sustained the same year, the subsequent abdication of Bonaparte, the return from Elba, the brief incident of the "hundred days," the catastrophe of Waterloo, and the subsequent consignment of the great emperor to St. Helena, form of course the subjects of a host of graphic satires. Foremost amongst them (for Gillray's intellect was gone), must be mentioned the caricatures of Thomas Rowlandson and of George Cruikshank. The first being fully described in Mr. Grego's work, we are not called on to mention them here, while the last will be fully set out when we come to treat of the caricature work of George Cruikshank.
French Royalist Satires.The French royalist satirists of course expressed their views on the situation. A French royalist caricature, published after Waterloo, represents Napoleon as a dancing bear forced to caper by England, his keeper, who makes an unsparing use of the lash, whilst Russia and Prussia play pipe and drum by way of music. A good answer, however, to this is found in a French caricature (published in the Napoleon interest), like most of the French satires of that period without date, entitled, L'après dinée des Anglais, par un François prisonnier-de-guerre, which satirizes the after-dinner drinking propensities of the English of the period. The caricature, although neither flattering nor altogether decent, is probably not an exaggerated picture of English after-dinner conviviality while the century was young.By far the most biting, the most sarcastic, the most effective, and the most popular of the anti-Bonaparte caricatures are, those by James Gillray, which commence before the close of the last century, and end in 1811, the year when the lurid genius of this greatest and most original of satirists was quenched in the darkness of mental imbecility. James Gillray, however, like his able friend and contemporary, Thomas Rowlandson, does not fall within our definition of a "nineteenth century" satirist; and I am precluded from
["Royal Affability" Feb. 10thGillray.]
"Well, friend, where a' you going, hay? What's your name, hay? Where do you live, hay?—hay?"
["Connoisseur examining a Cooper" Gillray.]
June 18th, 1792
A CONNOISSEUR IN ART
["Lesson in Apple Dumplings"Gillray.]
"Hay? hay? apple dumplings?—how get the apples in? —how? Are they made without seams?"
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of the Caricaturists.Caricature, like literary satire (as we all know from the days of the "Dunciad" downwards), has little concern with justice; but we who look back after the lapse of the greater part of the century, and have moreover studied the history and the surroundings of Napoleon Bonaparte, may afford at least to do him justice. Gillray is a fair exponent of the intense hatred with which Bonaparte was regarded in this country, when not only the little "Corsican," but those about him, were held up to a ridicule which, oftentimes vulgar, partook not unfrequently of absolute brutality. Who would imagine, for instance, that the fat blousy female quaffing deep draughts of Maraschino from a goblet, in his famous satire of the Handwriting on the Wall, was intended for the refined and delicate Josephine? Occasionally, however, James Gillray descended to a lower depth, as in his Ci Devant Occupations (of 20th February, 1805), in which we see this delicate woman, with the frail but lovely Spaniard, Theresa de Cabarrus (Madame Tallien), figuring in a manner to which the most infamous women of Drury Lane would have hesitated to descend. Josephine de la Pagerie, as we all know, was anything but blameless; which indeed of les Déesses de la Revolution could pass unscathed through the fiery furnace of the Terror? But this They mistake the character of Bonaparte.miscalled satire of James Gillray, which he dubs "a fact," is nothings than a poisonous libel. As for le petit Caporal himself, everyone now knows, that while he viewed the carnage of the battlefield with the indifference of a conqueror, he shrank in horror from the murderers of the Swiss; from Danton and his satellites, the Septembrist massacrists; from the mock trials and cold-blooded atrocities of the Terrorists. Standing apart from these last by right of his unexampled genius, with Danton, Marat, Robespierre, Couthon, Carrier, Napoleon Bonaparte has nothing whatever in common. Looking back upon the ruins of his empire, the mistakes he had made, the faults he had committed, Napoleon, with reference at least to his own personal elevation, might say with truth: "Nothing has been more simple than my elevation. It was not the result of intrigue or crime. It was owing to the peculiar circumstance of the times, and because I fought successfully against the enemies of my country. What is most extraordinary is, that I rose from being a private person to the astonishing height of power I possessed, without having committed a single crime to obtain it. If I were on my death-bed I could make the same declaration."
To these facts, of course, James Gillray (if indeed he knew them) closed his eyes. In his sketch of the 12th of May, 1800, he shows us the young lieutenant at the head of tattered legions directing the destruction of the royal palaces. Blinded by the prejudice of his times, he seems apparently ignorant of the fact that Napoleon although a spectator of the attack on the Tuileries, had no power; that if he had, he would (as he himself expressed it at the time) have swept the sanguinary canaille into the gutters with his grape shot. Again, in his satires, he connects him repeatedly with the guillotine, to all appearance unconscious of the fact that between Napoleon and the guillotine no possible sympathy existed.
A well-drawn caricature published by S. W. Fores on the nth of May, 1801, gives us an admirable idea of the male and female costume of the period. It contains sixteen figures, and is entitled Tea just Over, or the Game of Consequences begun. "Consequences" would appear to have been a fashionable game at this time; but the "consequences" here alluded to are the immediate results of a pinch of snuff. The "consequences" of one gentleman sneezing are the following: he jerks the arm of the lady next him, the result being that she pours her cup of scalding hot tea over the knees of her neighbour, a testy old gentleman, who in his fright and pain raises his arms, jerking off with his cane the wig of a person standing at the back of his chair, who in the attempt to save his wig upsets his own cup and saucer upon the pate of his antagonist. Another guest, with his mouth full of tea, witnessing 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."
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.Introduction of GasGas, which now promises to be superseded in its turn by electricity, was introduced into Boulton & Watts' foundry, at Birmingham, as early as the year 1798, and the Lyceum Theatre was lit with gas (by way of experiment) in 1803; it met however with much opposition from persons interested in the conservation of the oil trade, and made no real progress in London until 1807, when it was introduced into Golden Lane on the 16th of August. Pall Mall, however, was not lighted with gas until 1809, and it was really not finally and generally introduced into London until the year 1820. We meet with an excellent satire published by S. W. Fores, in 1807, wherein a harlequin is depicted sitting on a rope suspended between a couple of lamp posts. The lamps and the hat of the figure are garnished with lighted burners; the neighbours in the windows of the adjoining houses, the people on the pavement below, the fowls, the dogs, the cats on the roofs, are suffocated with the noxious vapour. The figure holds in his hand a paper, whereon we read, "This is the speculation to make money, £10,000 per cent, profit all in Air-light air. 'Tis there, 'tis here, and 'tis gone for ever." This caricature bears the title of The Good Effects of Carbonic Gas. A caricature of Woodward, engraved by Rowlandson, and published by Ackermann on the 23rd of December, 1809, gives us A Peep at the Gas Lights in Pall Mall, the interest of which chiefly centres in the eccentric form of the early street lamps. Among the groups looking on are a wondering "country cousin" and a "serious" companion. "Ay, friend," says the latter, anxious of course, in season and out of season, to turn the occasion to profitable account, "verily it is all vanity! What is this to the inward light?" Some more disreputable members of the community are expressing their fears that the new light will interfere with their own peculiar modes of livelihood.
A clever and somewhat remarkable woman succeeded in achieving an unenviable notoriety in 1809. The daughter of a printer residing in Bowl and Pin Alley, near White's Alley, Chancery Lane, the remarkably intelligent girl had early attracted the notice of friends, one of whom placed her at a boarding school, where she picked up an education (such as it was) sufficient to sharpen her natural abilities. Her commencement in life was scarcely a hopeful one. Mary Anne Thompson eloped at seventeen years of age with one Joseph Clarke, the son of a builder on Snow Hill, and after living with him three years married him. The marriage was not a happy one. The pair after some years separated, and Mary Anne was thenceforth driven to trust for her support to her own resources and attractions.
Mary Anne Clarke.These proved fully equal to the occasion. Somewhat small in stature, nature had nevertheless endowed her with a remarkably well turned figure, well shaped arms, comely features, a singularly clear complexion, and blue eyes full of light and vivacity. Dressing with considerable taste and elegance—utterly shameless—without principle or character, with nothing to lose—everything to gain, the woman was eminently fitted to succeed in the peculiar path in life she had elected to follow. Throwing her line with all the dexterity of an accomplished angler, she succeeded almost at her first cast in hooking a very large fish indeed—his Royal Highness Frederick Duke of York, Commander-in-chief, Prince-bishop of Osnaburgh, who had attained at this time the respectable age of forty-six years.Mary Anne proved, as might have been expected, an expensive plaything. In the short space of two years, the duke seems to have handed his mistress upwards of £5,000, besides expending on her in payments to tradesmen for wine, furniture, and other "paraphernalia," at least £16,000 or £17,000 more. In time, as is not unusual in matters of this kind, the duke seems to have grown tired of his enslaver, and endeavoured to pension her off with an annuity of £400 a year; but with the niggardliness which was so distinguishing a characteristic of his family, payment was not only withheld, but when the woman applied for payment, the duke was mean and foolish enough to threaten her with prison and the pillory. Mrs. Clarke, a woman of genius and resource, instead of being frightened, straightway betook herself to Messrs. Wilberforce and Whitbread, the supporters of the impeachment of Lord Melville, and confessed to them certain irregularities of which she had been guilty.
Into the unsavoury revelations of Mary Anne Clarke, her traffic in the sale of military commissions, and still worse, in a system of ecclesiastical patronage in which she alleged his Royal Highness connived, we need not enter. They are set out as far as is necessary in Mr. Grego's book, and also in Mr. Wright's treatise on James Gillray and his works. Suffice it to say, that all these miserable exposures would have been saved, had the duke, instead of seeking to save his pocket, paid the annuity to which the woman was entitled. If by resigning, he thought to silence his unscrupulous persecutor, he was quickly and unpleasantly undeceived. The clever, unscrupulous woman had reserved her trump-card to the last. All this time she had been engaged in preparing her "Memoirs," comprising not only the history of her transactions with his Royal Highness, but a series of his letters, containing, it is said, anecdotes of illustrious personages of the most curious and recherché description. The immediate publication of these "Memoirs" having been announced to his Royal Highness, the duke was driven in spite of himself to effect an arrangement. For a payment of £7,000 down, an annuity of £400 for her own life, and one of £200 for each of her daughters, the printed "Memoirs" (eighteen thousand copies) were destroyed, the publication suppressed, and above all the terrible private correspondence duly surrendered.
The mover of the committee of inquiry was one Wardle, colonel of a militia regiment, who for a very brief space of time was permitted to figure as a patriot; that he was a mere instrument in the hands of other persons seems now abundantly clear. No sooner had Mary Anne Clarke landed his Royal Highness, than she fixed her hook in the jaws of the luckless colonel, who, tool as he was, proved to be by no means a sharp one. It is obvious a woman of Mrs. Clarke's character would be the last person to open her lips, unless it was made clear to her that it would be worth her while to do so. Her go-between in the transaction was a certain "Major" Dodd. Wardle gave Mrs. Clarke £100 for present necessities, and by way of earnest of more liberal promises which seem afterwards to have been repudiated by his employers. Through Major Dodd, the clever, unprincipled woman secured a house in Westbourne Place, which she furnished in a style of comfortable elegance, and succeeded by her blandishments in swindling Wardle into becoming security for her furniture. The inevitable result of course followed. On the 3rd July, 1809, Wright, the upholsterer, brought his action against Wardle and recovered £1,400 damages, besides costs, "for furniture sold to the defendant to the use of Mary Anne Clarke." The colonel, like the commander-in-chief, thus found himself not only out-manœuvred by his clever and unscrupulous ex-ally, but reaped the obloquy attendant on exposure and ridicule, instead of the glorification which had at first greeted his patriotic exertions.
Mary Anne Clarke and the Duke of York, afforded (as might have been expected) plenty of employment to the caricaturists. The theme, however, is treated too grossly for description, a subject to be regretted, as most of the satires, containing as they do admirable portraits of the principal personages, are exceedingly clever. The subject suited an artist who delighted in delineating the immodest and full-blown beauties of Drury Lane; and accordingly, more than forty caricatures on the subject of "The Delicate Investigation," as it was called, are due to the pencil of Thomas Rowlandson.
The end of Mary Anne ClarkeIn order to show the character of this infamous woman, we must follow her progress a little farther than either Mr. Grego or Mr. Wright appear to have done. In February, 1814, she once more made a public appearance: this time in the Court of Queen's Bench. She seems to have got the Right Hon. William Fitzgerald, Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer, by some means or other into her clutches, in connection with the proceedings of 1809. By this time, however, she had descended so low, that exposure was threatened unless a sum of money was deposited under a stone. In her threats, she announced her intention of "submitting to the public in a very short time two or three volumes, which might be followed by others as opportunity should suit or circumstances require." This threat, instead of extorting money, consigned Mary Anne to the custody of the marshal of the King's Bench Prison for the space of nine calendar months, at the end of which period she was ordered to find securities to keep the peace for a space of three years. It might have gone harder with the brazen woman if the proceedings had taken any other form than that of an indictment for libel, and if she had not admitted her fault, and in some measure thrown herself upon the mercy of the court. The pages of history do not appear to be sullied with the intrusion of Mary Anne Clarke's name after this period.
The year 1811 is marked by an event which claims special record in a work treating of English caricatures and caricaturists of the century. In that year, James Gillray executed the last of his famous etchings; and although mere existence was prolonged for nearly four years afterwards, till the 1st of June, 1815, he sank in 1811 into that hopeless and dreary state of mingled imbecility and delirium from which the intellect of this truly great and original genius was destined never to recover.
- "If it had not been for you English, I should have been Emperor of the East; but wherever there is water enough to float a ship, we are sure to find you in our way."—Napoleon to Captain Maitland. See Maitland's "Narrative of the Surrender of Bonaparte," p. 99.
- London Chronicle, December 6th, 1806.
- See also Gillray's previous satire of the 23rd of January, 1806 (which probably suggested this), Tiddy Doll, the Great French Gingerbread Baker, drawing out a new batch of kings.
- See also Gillray's cartoon of 1st October, 1807, British Tars towing the Danish Fleet into Harbour.
- See vol. ii., p. 92, et seq.
- In a loose age, Madame Tallien, notwithstanding such virtues as she possessed, was a loose character. Between 1798 and 1802 she had three children, who were registered in her family name of Cabarrus. On the 8th of April, 1802, at her own request a divorce was pronounced from Tallien, and with two husbands still alive she married (14th July, 1805,) Count Joseph de Caraman, soon after heir of the Prince de Chimay. She died in the odour of sanctity, on the 15th of January, 1835.
- O'Meara, vol. i, p. 250.
- "English Bards and Scotch Reviewers."
- According to Mr. Grego, £2,000.