English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the Nineteenth Century/Chapter 3
MISCELLANEOUS CARICATURES AND SUBJECTS OF CARICATURE, 1812-1819.
Rebuilding of Drury Lane Theatre.Drury Lane Theatre, which was burnt down in 1811, was rebuilt the following year, and the committee, anxious to celebrate the opening by an address of merit corresponding to the occasion, advertised in the papers for such a composition. Theatrical addresses, however, as we all know by reference to a recent occasion, are not always up to the mark; and whether the result of their appeal was unsatisfactory, or whether—as appears not unlikely—they were appalled by the number of competitors, which is said to have been upwards of one hundred, not one was accepted, the advertisers preferring to seek the assistance of Lord Byron, who wrote the actual address which was spoken at the opening on the 10th of October, 1812. Among the competitors was a Dr. Busby, living in Queen Anne Street, who apparently unable to realize the fact that competent men could have the effrontery to reject his "monologue," refused to accept the verdict of the committee. A few evenings afterwards, the audience and the company were electrified by an unexpected sensation. Busby and his son sat in one of the stage boxes; and the latter, to the amazement of the audience, stepped at the end of the play from his box upon the stage, and began to recite his father's nonsense, as follows:—
"When energizing objects men pursue,
What are the prodigies they cannot do?"
The question remained unanswered; for Raymond, the stage Dr. Busby's "Monologue."manager, walked at this moment upon the stage accompanied by a constable, and gave the amateur performer into custody. It is said that his father, not content with this failure, actually made an attempt to recite the "monologue" from his box, until hissed and howled down by the half laughing, half indignant audience. The circumstance is commemorated by an admirable pictorial satire entitled, A Buz in a Box, or the Poet in a Pet, published by S. W. Fores on the 21st of October, in which we see the doctor gesticulating from his box, and imploring the audience to listen to his "monologue." Young Busby, seated on his father's Pegasus (an ass), quotes one of the verses of the absurd composition, while the animal (after the manner of its kind) answers the hisses of the audience by elevating its heels and uttering a characteristic "hee haw." By the side of Busby junior stands the manager (Raymond), apologetically addressing the audience. Certain pamphlets lie scattered in front of the stage, on which are inscribed (among others) the following doggerel:—
" A Lord and a Doctor once started for Fame,
Which for the best poet should pass;
The Lord was cried up on account of his name,
The Doctor cried down for an ass."
"Doctor Buz, he assures us, on Drury's new stage
No horses or elephants there should engage;
But pray, Doctor Buz, how comes it to pass,
That you your own self should produce there an ass?"
Dr. Busby was a person desirous of achieving literary notoriety at any amount of personal inconvenience. He translated Lucretius, and is said to have given public recitations, accompanied with bread and butter and tea; but in spite of these attractions, the public did not come and the book would not sell, facts which a wicked wag of the period ridiculed, by inserting the following announcement in the column of births of one of the newspapers: "Yesterday, at his house in Queen Anne Street, Dr. Busby of a stillborn Lucretius"
1813.The medical profession is ridiculed in a satire published in 1813: Doctors Differ, or Dame Nature against the College. Four physicians have quarrelled in consultation over the nature of their patient's malady, and the proper mode of administering to his relief. Unable to convince one another, they wax so warm in argument that they speedily proceed from words to blows. "I say," shouts one (beneath the feet of the other three), "I say it is an exfoliation of the glands which has fallen on the membranous coils of the intestines, and must be thrown off by an emetic." "I say," says another, raising at the same time his cane to protect his head, "I say it is a pleurisie in the thigh, and must be sweated away." "You are a blockhead!" cries a third, furiously striking at him with his professional cane. "I say it is a nervous affection of the cutis, and the patient must immediately lose eighteen ounces of blood, and then take a powerful drastic." "What are you quarrelling about?" asks a fourth, arresting the downfall of his professional brother's cane. "You are all wrong! I say it is an inflammation in the os sacrum, and therefore fourteen blisters must be immediately applied to the part affected and the adjacents." The table is down, and the prescriptions of the learned doctors covered with the ink which flows from the ruined inkstand The amused patient (whom nature has meanwhile relieved of the cause and effect) watches the combat from the adjoining bedroom, and makes preparations to retreat and save both his "pocket and his life."
1814. The year 1814 was marked by the bursting of one of the most extraordinary religious bubbles with which England has ever been scandalized. The person identified with and responsible for the craze to which we allude, was Joanna Southcott, the daughter of Joanna Southcotta farmer residing at the village of Gettisham, in Devonshire, where she herself was born in the month of April, 1750. At the time, therefore, the imposture was made patent to such of her deluded followers as retained any remnants of the small stock of common sense with which nature had originally endowed them, Joanna was sixty-four years of age.
The village girl appears to have been a constant reader of the Scriptures, which she studied with so much enthusiasm, that a strong religious bias was established, which took almost entire possession of her mind. Still, no marked peculiarity was manifested until after she had attained forty years of age, at which time we find her employed as a workwoman at an upholsterer's shop at Exeter. The proprietor being a Methodist, the shop was visited by ministers of that persuasion, and Joanna, with her "serious turn of mind," was not only permitted to join in their discussions, but was regarded by these harmless folk somewhat in the light of a prodigy. To a mind predisposed to religious mania (for it would be unjust to stigmatize Joanna altogether as a wilful impostor) the result was peculiarly unfortunate; she was visited with dreams, which she quickly accepted as spiritual manifestations, instead of being, as they really were, indications of a disordered digestion.
Two years afterwards Joanna retired from secular business, and set up as a prophetess at Exeter. She declared herself to be the woman spoken of as "the bride," "the Lamb's wife," the "woman clothed with the sun." The county lunatic asylum might have done good at this point; but its wholesome discipline, unfortunately, was not resorted to. She published in 1801 her first inspired book, "The Strange Effects of Faith," which absolutely brought five "wise men of Gotham" to inquire into her pretensions from different parts of England. Three of these learned pundits were Methodist parsons, and these three parsons declared themselves satisfied that the mission of Joanna was a divine one. It is needless to add that in England, no matter how absurd the nature of a so-called divine mission, it is safe and certain to attract believers; and by the year 1803 the doctrines of Joanna Southcott were eagerly swallowed by numerous simpletons in various parts of the country.
Thus fortified, Joanna issued a manifesto, in which she stated her calling and pretensions: we set it out in all the original baldness of its composition:—
"I, Joanna Southcott, am clearly convinced that my calling is of God, and my writings are indited by His Spirit, as it is impossible for any spirit but an all-wise God, that is wondrous in working, wondrous in wisdom, wondrous in power, wondrous in truth, could have brought round such mysteries, so full of truth, as is in my writings; so I am clear in whom I have believed, that all my writings came from the spirit of the most high God."
Joanna was clear in whom she believed, and her followers were equally "clear" in their belief in Joanna. This incoherent nonsense was signed in the presence of fifty-eight simpletons, all of whom expressed their confidence in the inspired mission of their precious prophetess.
Her disciples rapidly increased, and she visited in her apostolic character, Bristol, Leeds, Stockport, and other large centres, obtaining numerous converts everywhere. Among them was the celebrated engraver, William Sharp; and to the last this man, who out of his calling was the veriest simpleton living, and who had swallowed successively the doctrines of Richard Brothers, Wright, Bryan, and Joanna, believed in the divine mission of this unincarcerated lunatic.
Although Joanna did not (like Joseph Smith) discover a book, she discovered a seal, which one of her disciples is said to have picked up in a dust-heap at Clerkenwell. With this miraculously acquired talisman the spirit ordered her to "seal up the people," and as "the people" were limited to one hundred and forty-four thousand, and each of the elect had to pay a sum varying at different times from a guinea to twelve shillings, or even lower, for the privilege of being "sealed up," the scheme promised at first to turn out a comfortably profitable one. Into the details of the "sealing" it is unnecessary for us to enter. Suffice it to say that the numbers of the "sealed," up to 1808, when for some unexplained reason the process appears to have been discontinued, exceeded six thousand simpletons; the numbers of her deluded followers in the metropolis and its vicinity alone, are supposed at one time to have amounted to a hundred thousand.
Joanna was a coarse, common-place, and somewhat corpulent woman; she dressed in a plain, quaker-like garb, in a gown of Calimancoe, with a shawl and bonnet of drab colour. The three leading preachers in her chapel in Southwark (her great stronghold), were a Mr. Carpenter, who, after learning his business, set up as a prophet on his own account; a Mr. Foley, and a lath-render named Tozer. She had chapels also in Spitalfields, Greenwich, Twickenham, and Gravesend.
The scribblings in prose and verse of this illiterate creature, instead of being committed to the waste paper basket, were solemnly preserved and received as prophecies. Attacked at last with dropsy, her delusions assumed the following objectionable form: she prophesied, and Sharp and his fellow-disciples—some of whom were men of fair education—actually believed, that Christ was to be born again under the name of "Shiloh," and that she, Joanna, at the age of sixty-five, was to be the mother. The revelation which proclaimed the miraculous accouchement was worded as follows: "This year , in the sixty-fifth year of thy age, thou shalt have a son by the power of the Most High; which if they (the Hebrews) receive as their prophet, priest, and king, then I will restore them to their own land, and cast out the heathen for their sakes, as I cast out them when they cast out Me, by rejecting Me as their Saviour, Prince, and King, for which I said I was born, but not at that time to establish My kingdom."
One might have imagined that this gibberish would open the eyes of some at least of her votaries: their insane enthusiasm, on the contrary, increased. Joanna was absolutely inundated with the "freewill" offerings of the faithful—a costly cradle, white robes, pinafores, shoes of satin and worsted, flannel shirts, napkins, blankets, silver spoons, pap-boats, mugs, silver tea-pots, sugar-basins, tongs, and corals,—absolutely without number. The absurdity of the simpletons who sent these offerings was severely criticised, both in England and on the Continent; and by way apparently of answering her traducers, Joanna inserted an apostolical advertisement in the Morning Chronicle of Thursday, 22nd September, 1814, and in the Courier of Friday, 23rd, in which she stated that, in consequence of the false and malicious reports in circulation respecting herself, she was desirous of treating for "a spacious and ready-furnished house to be hired for three months, in which her accouchement may take place in the presence of such competent witnesses as shall be appointed by proper authority to prove her character to the world." The appointed day—the 29th of October—however passed by, and the prophecy remained of course unfulfilled, although, in the manufacturing towns of the north, crowds of the faithful assembled to wait the arrival of the coaches, in expectation of tidings of the great manifestation. The satire entitled, Delivering a Prophetess (in vol. 8 of "The Scourge"), has reference to the actual event which occurred on the 27th of December, 1814, when death relieved Joanna of her delusions and her dropsy; the wretched creature declaring on her deathbed that, "if she had been deceived, she had at all events been the sport of some spirit, good or evil." Joanna forms the subject of one of Rowlandson's caricatures of 1814, Joanna Southcott, the Prophetess, Excommunicating the Bishops, published by Tegg on the 2oth of September, 1814. We shall also have to refer to her again when we treat of the caricatures of George Cruikshank.
Flight of the Princess CharlotteThis year (1814) the Princess Charlotte, heiress presumptive actually ran away in a hackney coach, to avoid being affianced to the Prince of Orange, to whom Her Royal Highness evinced an invincible repugnance. The event is referred to in a caricature entitled, Plebeian Spirit, or Coachee and the Heiress Presumptive (published by Fores on the 25th of July), which shows us the princess emerging from Warwick House, followed by Britannia (who raises her hands in a suppliant attitude), and the dejected British lion. "Coachman, will you protect me?" she appeals to the driver. "Yes, yes, your Highness," replies the fellow, "to the last drop of my blood!" A servant in the royal livery holds up his hands in amazement and horror, while another spurs off in hot haste to apprise the Regent of the flight of his daughter. But a satire of far superior merit, entitled, Miss endeavouring to excite a glow with her Dutch Plaything, was issued by the same publisher a few days previously, in which the rejected prince figures as a Dutch top, which the princess has kept spinning for some time. "There," she says to her father at last, "I have kept it up for a long while; you may send it away now, I am tired of it; mother [i.e. the Princess Caroline] has got some better plaything for me." "What! are you tired already?" exclaims the Regent. "Take another spell at it, or give me the whip." "No, no," replies Her Royal Highness; "you may take the top, but I'll keep the whip." Behind her is a picture representing an orange falling with Cupid headlong into space. The Regent was so incensed at his daughter's refractoriness, that he went at once to Warwick House and dismissed all her attendants, and never forgave the Duke of Sussex for his supposed share in breaking off the connection. It was immediately after this event that her mother, the Princess Caroline, contrary to the advice of her friends and well-wishers, applied for permission to make that tour on the Continent which, owing to her own obstinate folly and contempt for the duties of her high station, was destined—as we shall afterwards find—to end in such disastrous consequences to herself.
1812 1815In the course of the year 1812, England had become involved—scarcely through any fault of her own—in a war with the United States of America. The causes of difference were mainly due to the obnoxious Orders in Council, which had been forced upon us in consequence of the Berlin and Milan Decrees of Napoleon. As an evidence, however, of our own friendly intentions, it may be mentioned that the Regent had issued a declaration on the 23rd of April, that if at any time the obnoxious decrees should by an authentic act be absolutely repealed, thenceforth the Orders in Council of 7th January, 1807, and 26th April, 1809, should be revoked; America and England. and the American representative, having, on the 20th of May, transmitted to the English Court a copy of a French decree of the 20th of April, by which the decrees of Milan and Berlin were declared to be no longer in force, so far as American vessels were concerned, the Regent declared that, although he could not accept the terms of the decree as satisfying the conditions of his own declaration of the 23rd of April, yet, with the view of re-establishing friendly relations, he revoked the Orders in Council of 7th January, 1807, and April 26th, 1809, so far as regarded American vessels and American cargoes. Of this repeal, be it observed, the United States Government took no notice, it might be in consequence of the very reasonable proviso annexed to the Regent's concession, that unless the Government of the United States revoked their exclusion of British armed vessels from their harbours, while those of France were admitted, and their interdiction of British commerce, while that of France was allowed, the order was to be of no effect.
A very old English proverb tells us that "a stick is never wanting to beat a dog;" and where one nation wishes to fasten a quarrel on another, and the opportunity be favourable, there will be no difficulty in finding an excuse. There were other causes of discontent; in particular our claim to search not only for English goods, but for British seamen serving on board neutral vessels; and as the sovereignty of the seas depended on upholding these assumptions, our Government was as strenuous in enforcing them as the French emperor was bent on the maintenance of his continental system.
The Americans, however, were anxious for a war with this country, and in particular, the opportunity seemed eminently favourable for attempting the conquest of Canada. A motion in the House of Representatives, for the indefinite postponement of a bill for raising 25,000 additional troops, was rejected by a majority of 98 to 29. An outrageous bill, specially intended as an insult to England, was introduced into the same House about the end of April, "for the protection, recovery, and indemnification of American seamen," the first clause of which declared that every person who, under pretence of a commission from a foreign power, should impress upon Hostile Spirit of the Americans.the high seas a native seaman of the United States, should be adjudged a pirate and a felon, and should upon conviction suffer death. Another of its articles gave to every such seaman impressed under the British flag, the right of attaching in the hands of any British subject, or in the hands of any debtor of any British subject, a sum equal to thirty dollars per month for the whole lime of his detention. This monstrous bill was actually allowed to pass a third reading. The temper of the Americans may be judged by the result of the voting on Mr. Randolph's motion in the same House, on the 29th of May. That gentleman submitted "that, under the present circumstances, it was inexpedient to resort to a war with Great Britain." The question being then put, that the House do proceed to the consideration of the said resolution, it was negatived by 62 votes against 37. Under the overpowering influence of these feelings, war was declared against England on the 18th of June, 1812; our own declaration was not issued until the 13th of October following.
"Our American cousins," did not wait for this joinder of issue; they had invaded Canada early in July. On the 11th of that month, the American General Hull, with a body of 2,500 men—regulars and militia—crossed the river above Detroit with most disastrous consequences to himself. He was speedily forced to retreat, and on the 16th of August to surrender the important fort of Detroit itself, with his 2,500 men and thirty-three pieces of artillery. Although this disaster seriously disconcerted the American plans of invasion, the design was by no means abandoned. A considerable force was assembled in the neighbourhood of Niagara, and on the 13th of October, the American General Wadsworth, with some 1,400 men, made an attack on the British position of Queenstown, on the Niagara river. Wadsworth, with 900 men and many officers, was speedily compelled to surrender to British forces not exceeding the number of his own following.
On the other hand, the losses of the Americans on land were to some extent balanced by their naval successes. On the 19th of August, the English frigate Guerriere, Captain Dacres, was forced American Naval Successes.after a gallant but (as we shall see) unequal fight, to strike her colours to the American frigate Constitution, Captain Hull. Under similar conditions, the English frigate Macedonia, Captain Carden, was forced on the 25th of October, after an hour's hard fighting, in which the English lost 104 men killed and wounded, to yield to the American frigate United States, Commodore Decatur. These successes were due to the following causes: the rate of the American frigates corresponded to the largest British; but in size, weight of metal, and number of men, were almost equal to line-of-battle ships; the American navy too, at this time, was manned by sailors many of whom were unfortunately British tars, while many more had been trained in British service.
Although we do not profess to give a history of the Anglo-American war of 1812-14, some slight sketch of its more remarkable incidents seems necessary for the purpose of enabling the reader to understand what has to follow. Having named some of the American naval successes, we can scarcely pass over the well-known fight of the 1st of June, 1813. Captain Broke, of the British frigate Shannon, 330 men, burning with indignation at the naval defeats of his countrymen, having diligently perfected his crew in discipline, offered battle to the United States frigate Chesapeake, for which he had long been watching. The Chesapeake was a fine ship, carrying forty-nine guns (18- and 32-pounders) and a complement of 440 men. The American captain, nothing loth, bore down on his antagonist off Boston light-house. The ships were soon in close contact; but the gallant English captain, discerning his opportunity, gave orders for boarding, himself setting the example; and after a sanguinary fight of only fifteen minutes, hauled down his adversary's flag and carried off the Chesapeake in triumph. The invasion of Canada was still persevered in by the Americans, with varying successes and defeats; but the results of the campaign of 1813 were in the end disastrous to them; and by the 12th of December, both provinces of Canada were freed from the invaders, who retired to winter quarters within their own territory. Another determined attempt to penetrate into Canada was made by them The English Assume the Offensive.in July, 1814, the British troops in the first instance being obliged to fall back: this was on the 5th. Their triumph, however, was of brief duration. Veteran troops, who had served under Wellington in Spain, had meanwhile arrived at Quebec; General Drummond arrested the further retreat of Riall's division, and a decisive battle ensued, which terminated in the defeat of the Americans, who were obliged to retire with precipitation beyond the Chippewa. On the following day they abandoned their camp, threw the greater part of their baggage and provisions into the rapids, and after destroying the bridge over the Chippewa, continued their retreat in great disorder to Fort Erie. Out of a force of 5,000 men, they had lost in killed, wounded, and prisoners at least 1,500. This defeat, and the timely arrival of veteran troops from Europe, appear to have decided the British commanders to change the defensive warfare they had hitherto adopted, and the small operations they had conducted on the coast of the southern States, for offensive movements of greater vigour.
A large naval force was despatched under the command of Vice-Admiral Cockrane, having on board a powerful land force commanded by General Ross. The latter landed on the 20th of August at Benedict; marched to Nottingham on the 21st, and to Upper Marlborough on the 22nd, Admiral Cockrane in the meanwhile, with the barges, armed launches, and other boats of the fleet, having the marines on board, proceeding up the Patuxent on the flank of the army. The American Commodore blew up his vessels, seventeen in number, with the exception of one which fell into the hands of the British. The troops reached Bladensburg (about five miles from Washington) on the 24th.
About 9,400 Americans (400 of whom were cavalry) drawn up to oppose them, were speedily routed, with the loss of ten pieces of artillery and the capture of their commanding officer, General Barney. It appears to have been General Ross's first intention to return to his ships after laying the capital under contribution; but the Americans having fired upon the bearer of the flag of truce who was sent forward with the conditions, all thoughts of an arrangement were Burning of Washington. dissipated. The soldiers pressed into the city, and after burning a frigate and sloop of war the President's residence, the capiton—including the Senate House and House of Representatives, dockyard, arsenal, war office, treasury, and the great bridge over the Potomac, re-embarked on the 30th of August.
A part of the operations against Washington consisted in despatching a force against Fort Washington, situate on the Potomac below that city. Captain Gordon, the commander of this expedition, proceeded with the Sea Horse and several other vessels up the river on the 17th of August, but was unable to reach the fort till the 27th. The place being rendered untenable by the explosion of a powder magazine, the garrison spiked their guns and evacuated it next day. The populous and commercial town of Alexandria, situated higher on the river, thus lost its sole protection; and Captain Gordon, having no obstacle to oppose his progress, buoyed the channel, and placed his ships in such a position as to enforce compliance with his terms. The town (with the exception of public works) was not to be destroyed nor the inhabitants molested on compliance with the following articles:—All naval and ordnance stores, public and private, were to be given up, together with all the shipping, the furniture of which was to be sent on board by their owners; the sunk vessels to be delivered in their original condition; the merchandise of every description to be immediately delivered up, including all removed from the town since the 19th; and the British squadron to be supplied with refreshments at the market price. This capitulation was signed on the 2gth; the whole of the captured vessels—twenty-one in number—were fitted, loaded, and delivered, by the 31st; and Captain Gordon had got back with all his ships and prizes, and anchored in safety in the Chesapeake by the 9th of September.
These events are referred to in a pictorial satire (published by Fores on the 4th of October, 1814), entitled, The Fall of Washington, or Maddy [i.e., President Madison] in full flight:—
"Death of thy soul those linen cheeks of thine
Are counsellors to fear."
The caricaturist simply reflected the opinion of his countrymen in insinuating that the Yankees had some understanding or sympathy with Bonaparte; but in this they were mistaken. With Napoleon and his system the Americans had no sympathy or feelings in common. Probably all that the satirist intended to convey was the fact that they had brought the retaliatory measure (severe as it was) upon themselves, and in this undoubtedly he was right. The Americans would never have dreamed of invading Canada had they not supposed that we were so hampered with our struggle with Bonaparte in 1812. It was perhaps well for America that we were not actuated by the same embittered feelings as themselves; that our generals were incompetent, and their plans both badly conceived and most inefficiently carried out.
The Caricaturists too Jubilant.Notwithstanding these successes, the caricaturists proved a trifle to jubilant. On the nth of September, a British naval force—consisting of a frigate, a brig, two sloops of war, and some gunboats—attacked the American flotilla before Platsburg, on Lake Champlain, and after a severe conflict were all captured, with the exception of the gun-boats, Captain Downie, the English commander, being killed at the very beginning of the engagement. Sir G. Prevost, in consequence of this disaster, began his retreat, leaving his sick and wounded to the mercy of the enemy. The Americans having now collected from all quarters, the British retired to their lines, and relinquished all idea of penetrating into the State of New York. On the 12th, however, an attempt was made to enter Baltimore, and although in the engagement which followed the American troops were broken and dispersed in the course of fifteen minutes, the victory was dearly purchased by the death of General Ross, while the defensive arrangements of the harbour were so perfect and so formidable, that the attempt was obliged to be given up.
Although peace was concluded in the following December, the intelligence unfortunately did not reach the belligerents in time to prevent further mistakes and bloodshed. A series of operations of the British army in the neighbourhood of New Orleans occupied the last week of December and a part of January. An army had been collected for an attack on that town under the command of General Kean, which, with the assistance of Admiral Cochrane, was disembarked without resistance on the 23rd December. On the 25th, General Sir Edward Pakenham arrived and assumed the chief command. On the 27th, the enemy's picquets were driven in within six miles of the town, where their main body was found most strongly posted, and supported by a ship of war moored in such a position as to enfilade the assailants. The result was that the assault of the British was delivered under so withering a fire from every part of the enemy's line., that General Pakenham was killed, Generals Keane and Gibbs wounded, while over 2,000 men and officers were killed, wounded, or made prisoners. Colonel Thornton, indeed, had crossed the river during the previous night and captured a flanking battery of the Americans on the other side; but the report made by him to General Lambert was of so discouraging a character that he decided not to persevere with the attempt, and in the end the whole army re-embarked, leaving a few of the most dangerously wounded behind them, but carrying off all their artillery, ammunition, and stores. The concluding operation of the war was the capture of Fort Mobile, which surrendered to the British on the nth of February.
Romeo Coates.A remarkable figure puts in an appearance in the caricatures of the early part of the century. This was the renowned "Romeo" Coates, a vain, weak-minded gentleman, who had an absolute passion for figuring on the boards as Romeo, Lothario, Belcour, and other romantic characters, for which his personal appearance and lack of brains altogether unfitted him. His "readings," like himself, being of the most original character, his vagaries afforded endless amusement to the coarse public of his day. The gods befooled him "to the top of his bent;" his overweening vanity failing to show the poor creature that he was exciting ridicule instead of applause. The fun (?) culminated in the tragic scene, Romeo, to their delight, responding to the encores of his audience, by repeating the dying scene so long as it suited the managers to prolong the sorry exhibition. Macready, whose dramatic genius and refined sensibilities revolted at a spectacle so degrading, describes him as he appeared at Bath, in 1815: "I was at the theatre," says the tragedian, "on the morning of his rehearsal, and introduced to him. At night the. house was too crowded to afford me a place in front, and seeing me behind the scenes, he asked me, knowing I acted Belcour, to prompt him if he should be 'out,' which he very much feared. The audience were in convulsions at his absurdities, and in the scene with Miss Rusport, being really 'out,' I gave him a line which Belcour has to speak, 'I never looked so like a fool in all my life,' which, as he delivered it, was greeted with a roar of laughter. He was 'out' again, and I gave him again the same line, which, again being repeated, was acquiesced in with a louder roar. Being 'out' again, I administered him the third time the same truth for him to utter, but he seemed alive to its application, rejoining in some dudgeon, 'I have said that twice already.' His exhibition was a complete burlesque of the comedy and a reflection on the character of a management that could profit by such discreditable expedients."Poor "Romeo" Coates lived to get over his theatrical weakness, and died (in 1848), in his seventy-sixth year, from the results of a street accident.
Marriage of the Charlotte.}}The Princess Charlotte of Wales, having successfully thrown over her royal Dutch suitor, was married at Carlton House to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, afterwards King of the Belgians, on the 2nd of May, 1816. Prior to the marriage, Parliament had voted a provision for an establishment for the pair of £60,000, while in the event of the princess's death, £50,000 was settled on the prince during his life. Leap Year, or John Bull's Establishment (S. W. Fores, March, 1816) shows us John Bull with a bit in his mouth, driven by Her Royal Highness, who lashes him unmercifully with a tremendous horse-whip. Miserable John is saddled with a pair of panniers, one of which carries the prince and his money bags, the other being filled with heavy packages labelled with different impositions or items of expenditure of which John is the victim. "Plans for thatched cottages," "Plan for pulling down and rebuilding," "Assessed taxes," "Increase of salaries," "Army for peace establishment," and so on. Says Leopold to the princess, "You drive so fast, I shall be off!!!" "Never fear," she replies; "I'll teach you an English waltz." The gouty Regent hobbles after them on his crutches, the supports of which are formed of dragons from his
The two years which succeeded the fall of Bonaparte were remarkable for the distress which prevailed amongst the industrial classes in England. The glory we had reaped in our long struggle with France was forgotten in the consideration of the almost insupportable burdens which it necessarily entailed. The sufferings Popular Discontent. of the masses prompted them to seek relief by bringing their grievances before Parliament; but the reception their petitions met with, served only to show the little sympathy which existed between the national representatives, as then elected, and the people of England. Petitions were next presented to the Regent himself, while the popular discontent found expression in large meetings convened in London, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, and other industrial centres. These meetings, it was observed, were convened, attended, and addressed almost exclusively by the working classes, the middle and upper ranks taking no share in the proceedings. The speakers pointed out in impressive and forcible language the various evils which they said had brought about their altered condition; the waste of public money in perpetual wars, in unearned pensions, sinecures, and other unjust expenditure. The high price of provisions provoked riots at Brandon, Norwich, Newcastle, Ely, Glasgow, Preston, Leicester, Merthyr, Tredegar, and other places; a large number of the populace assembled in Spafields in December to receive the Regent's answer to their petition. While waiting the arrival of "orator" Hunt, one of the most popular of the agitators of the day, a band of desperadoes appeared on the scene with a tri-coloured flag, and headed by a man named Watson, who, after delivering a violent harangue from a waggon, led them into the city. The rioters pillaged several gunsmiths' shops, but the prompt action of Lord Mayor Wood, the strong party of constables at his back, who seized several of the rioters, and the appearance on the scene of the military, soon induced the rioters to disperse. In January, 1817, John Cashman, one of the Spafields rioters, was tried for burglariously entering the shop of Mr. Beckworth, a gunsmith, and hanged opposite the scene of his depredations.
Regent Opens Parliament.The Regent opened Parliament on the 28th of January, 1817. In his address, he said that "the distress consequent upon the termination of a war of such universal extent and duration, had been felt with greater or less severity throughout all the nations of Europe, and had been considerably aggravated by the unfavourable state of the season." Alluding to the proceedings of the popular agitators, he added: "In considering our internal situation, you will, I doubt not, feel a just indignation at the attempts which have been made to take advantage of the distresses of the country, for the purpose of exciting a spirit of sedition and violence. … I am determined to omit no precautions for preserving the public peace, and for counteracting the designs of the disaffected." Whether this statement was the cause or not, the Regent had a narrow escape on his return from the House; for, while passing at the back of the gardens of Carlton House, the glass of his window was broken, either by a stone or (as was supposed) by two balls from an air-gun, which appeared to have been aimed at His Royal Highness.
On the 6th of February, Lord Cockrane presented to the House of Commons the petition of the Spafields meeting, signed by 24,000 persons. It prayed for annual parliaments, universal suffrage, and reduction in the public expenditure. He presented at the same time a petition from Manchester, signed by 30,000 persons, praying for reform in Parliament and economy in the public expenditure. Sir Francis Burdett also presented a Leeds petition for the same objects, containing 7,000 signatures. These were of course only legitimate modes of expressing the wants of the people; but, unhappily, quite independent of the action of the popular leaders, the country in some parts was so disturbed, so closely on the brink of insurrection, that ministers found themselves obliged twice during the course of the year to resort to the almost unprecedented measure of suspending the Habeas Corpus Act, on the first occasion at the end of February, and on the second in June.
At a meeting held at Manchester in March, for the purpose of petitioning the Regent against the suspension of the Act, it was proposed and agreed that another meeting should be held on the following Monday (the 10th of March), with the professed intention that ten out of every twenty persons who attended it should proceed to London with a petition to His Royal Highness. The meeting took place accordingly; many thousands actually attended in full marching order (i.e. provided with a bundle and a blanket); and a considerable body appear to have made some advance on their way before their further progress was arrested. Expeditions of a similar character were simultaneously planned, attempted, and frustrated in other parts of the country.
Government Spies.Meanwhile, there were trials for high treason at Westminster Hall; trials of rioters at York and Derby; and at the latter town, on the 7th of November, three miserable men were hung. Among the witnesses at these trials appear to have been two men named Castle and Oliver: and it came out that these fellows, with two other Government spies, named Edwards and Franklin, had been among the chief fomenters by speeches and writings of the seditions in the Metropolis and northern counties. The disclosures made by these scoundrels produced of course a great sensation and numerous satires. One of these, entitled, More Plots!!! More Plots!!! published by Fores in August, 1817, is "dedicated to the inventors, Lord S[idmouth] and Lord C[astlereagh]." It is divided into four compartments. In the first we see four foxes (typifying no doubt the four informers) watching the movements of a flock of geese. "'Tis plain," says one of the former, "there is a plot on foot; let's seize them, Brother Oliver." "I have no doubt of it: I can smell it plainly," answers his companion. In the second, a couple of fierce nondescript beasts are regarding a number of innocent lambs: "These bloodthirsty wretches," remarks one of the two, "mean to destroy man, woman, and child, I know it to a certainty; for they carry sedition, privy conspiracy, and rebellion in their looks." "And I'll swear it, Brother Castle," says his companion; "let's dash at them." In the third, a cat watches the movements of some unsuspecting mice: "There's a pretty collection of rogues gathered together," observes Grimalkin;, "if there is not a plot among them, burn my tail and whiskers." In the last, we behold a Kite just about to pounce on some chicken: "The world's over-run with iniquity," says the bird of prey; "and these troublesome miscreants will not let honest hawks sleep in security." We shall return to the subject of these Government spies and the troubles of 1817 in the graphic satires of George Cruikshank.
Booth.In 1817, the rivalry between the two national theatres ran so high, that the Covent Garden management employed agents to scour the provinces in search of a rival to Edmund Kean at Drury Lane. After a time one was found in the person of Lucius Junius Booth, who in stature, rôle of characters, and (as it was imagined) style of acting, closely resembled, if he did not equal, the great original. He made his début at Covent Garden, in the character of Richard the Third. Whether it was a success or not seems doubtful; for the manager being out of town, those deputed to act as deputies did not care to undertake the responsibility of engaging the new star. In this dilemma, overtures were made to him by the rival house, which he accepted, and made his appearance as "Iago" to Kean's "Othello" to a densely-packed audience at Drury Lane. So great was the likeness between the two actors, that strangers were puzzled to know which was Kean and which was Booth, until the tragedy reached the third act, when the genius of Kean made itself felt, and no doubt remained in the minds of the audience which was master of his art.
Booth, in fact, discovered that he had made a mistake, and the day after his trial at old Drury, signed articles to return to Covent Garden for three years. Here he proved a great attraction; he must have been in truth an actor of no ordinary merit; his rendering of the character of Lear, in particular, met with universal approbation, and in this tragedy he was supported by actors of the ability of Charles Kemble and William Macready, both of whom he threw into the shade. At the end, however, of his engagement, feeling that he was incapable of meeting Kean on anything like equal terms, he set sail for America.
The appearance of Edmund Kean and Lucius Junius Booth at Drury Lane is referred to in a satire entitled, The Rival Richards, published by S. W. Fores in 1817. The sketch (evidently the work of an amateur) shows us Folly seated on an ass, holding in one hand a pair of scales, in one of which stands Booth, and in the other Edmund Kean. To the mind of the satirist there appears to be no difference in the abilities of the two performers, as the scales exactly balance. On the right, the portico of Covent Garden is overshadowed by the inelegant but massive proportions of Drury Lane; the intervening space being occupied by various figures and details, among which is a "patent clapping machine." An advertisement board carried by one of the figures clearly shows that the satire—an elaborate idea badly worked out—has reference to the period when both actors were engaged at "old Drury."
Evacuation of France.Undoubtedly the most important event of the year 1818 was the congress of the allied sovereigns at Aix-la-Chapelle, and the evacuation of France which followed. By the second treaty of Paris, the stay of the occupying armies had been fixed at a period of five years; but by an official note, dated the 4th of November, 1818, the ministers of Austria, Great Britain, Russia, and Prussia, referring to the engagements entered into by the French Government with the subscribing powers to that treaty, stated that such Government had fulfilled all the clauses of the treaty, and proposed, "with respect to those clauses, the fulfilment of which was reserved for more remote periods, arrangements which were satisfactory" to the contracting parties. Under these circumstances the sovereigns resolved that the military occupation of France should forthwith be discontinued.
On the 7th of November, the Duke of Wellington, commander-in-chief of the army of occupation, issued an order of the day, taking leave of the troops under his command, which concluded in the following terms:—
"It is with regret that the general has seen the moment arrive when the dissolution of this army was to put an end to his public connections and his private relations with the commanders and other officers of the corps of the army. The field marshal deeply feels how agreeable these relations have been to him. He begs the generals commanding in chief to receive and make known to the troops under their orders, the assurance that he shall never cease to take the most lively interest in everything that may concern them; and that the remembrance of the three years during which he has had the honour to be at their head, will be always dear to him."
Wellington appears to have received particular marks of distinction from the Emperor Alexander; but what may have been the particular tittle tattle which led up to the caricature we shall next describe, we are now unable to fathom. That it grew out of the event which we have attempted to describe will be sufficiently obvious. It is entitled, A Russian Dandy at Home; a scene at Aix-la-Chapelle, and was published by Fores in December, 1818. In it, the satirist shows us the Duke arrayed in the regimentals of a Russian general, part of which comprise a pair of jack-boots considerably too large for him, a fact which amuses the Emperor and certain English and Cossack officers at his back. The following doggerel appended to the satire affords an explanation of its meaning:—
" It is said that the head of the forces allied,
Not having a coat to his back,
A generous monarch the needful supplied;
And when thus equipped, they sat down side by side,
To drink their champagne and their sack.
Now, doubtless this hero of wonderful note,
Had the monarch allowed him to choose,
Would have bartered the honour to sit in his coat,
For the pleasure to stand in his shoes."
The poor old lady was beyond the help of the Bath waters or of any earthly assistance. We find Mrs. Piozzi writing a few months later on: "Nothing kills the queen, however. It is really a great misfortune to be kept panting for breath so, and screaming with pain by medical skill: were she a subject, I suppose they would have released her long ago; but diseases and distresses of the human frame must lead to death at length," which was the case with the poor old queen, who died nine months after the date of the satire (in November, 1818).
The announcement of the marriages of four of her children this year, viz.: of the Princess Elizabeth to Frederick, Landgrave of Hesse Homburg; of Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent, to Victoria, daughter of the Duke of Saxe-Coburg (and mother of Queen Victoria), on the 29th of May; of Adolphus Frederick, Duke of Cambridge, to Augusta, daughter of the Landgrave of Hesse, on the 1st of May; and of William Henry, Duke of Clarence (afterwards William the Fourth), to Adelaide, daughter of the Duke of Saxe-Meiningen, on the 11th of July, gave rise to a coarse though admirably executed caricature entitled, The Homburg Waltz, with Characteristic Sketches of Family Dancing, in which all these royal personages, with the Regent at their head, are seen prominently figuring amongst the dancers.
Invention of the Kaleidescope.A forgotten but ingenious instrument, the kaleidoscope, was invented by Sir David Brewster in 1818. The leading principles of the toy appear to have been accidentally discovered in the course of a series of experiments on the polarization of light by successive reflections between plates of glass. The invention of this now despised toy made a tremendous sensation at the time, and the inventor was induced to take out a patent for its protection; but he had, it appears, divulged the secret of its construction before he had secured the invention to himself, and the consequence was that, although "it made a hundred shopmen rich," it brought the inventor himself but little substantial benefit. This is explained by the fact that it was so simple in construction, that even when made without scientific accuracy, it served to delight as well as to amuse. So largely was it pirated, that it was calculated; that no fewer than two hundred thousand were sold in three months in London and Paris alone. Judging by a caricature of Williams's, published by Fores in June, 1818, and its doggerel explanation, the toys would appear even at this time to have been made and sold by every street boy. The satire is called, Caleidoscopes, or Paying for Peeping. In it, we see the pertinacious vendors pushing the sale of their wares upon the passengers in the streets—many of them women. A bishop resolves to buy one because the coloured glass reminds him of a painted window in his cathedral, another person has paid dearly for "peeping," and discovers that while gratifying his curiosity, his "pocket-book has slipped off with two hundred pounds in it." Williams was a satirist of the old school, and the allusions made by some of the vendors render this otherwise interesting satire wantonly coarse and indelicate. Attached to this rare and curious production is the following doggerel:—
"'Tis the favourite plaything of school-boy and sage,
Of the baby in arms and the baby of age;
Of the grandam whose sight is at best problematical,
And of the soph who explains it by rule mathematical.
Such indeed is the rage for them, chapel or church in,
You see them about you, and each little urchin
Finding a sixpence, with transport beside his hope,
Runs to the tin-man and makes a caleidoscope!"
The Hobby. Another invention made its appearance in 1819: this was the velocipede, or as it was then called "the hobby," the grandfather of the bicycle and tricycle of our day. A tall gawky perched on the summit of a lofty bicycle, with an enormous wheel gyrating between a couple of spindle shanks capped with enormous crab-shells, is a sufficiently familiar and ridiculous object in our times; but the appearance presented by the people of 1819, who adopted the spider looking thing called a "hobby," was so intensely comical that it gave rise to a perfect flood of caricatures. The best of these we have personally met with is one entitled, The Spirit Moving the Quakers upon Worldly Vanities, a skit upon the Society of Friends (published by J. T. Sidebotham). The scene is laid in front of a "Society of Friends Meeting House," and numerous "Friends" of both sexes are busily engaged in exercising their hobbies. In the foreground, a broad-brimmed young "Friend" gives ardent and amorous chase to a lovely Quakeress, who, apparently disinclined to encourage his advances, urges her steed to its utmost speed, and makes frantic endeavours to get out of his way.
Depression in TradeThe internal condition of the country this year (1819) gave cause for much anxiety. Pecuniary distress, owing to the depression in trade, was almost universal. This state of things, as might have been expected, was taken advantage of by the popular agitators for their own purposes; and the people, under their encouragement, as in the two previous years, continued to give audible expression to their dissatisfaction at meetings, and through the medium of publications more or less of a seditious character. The miserable outlook gave rise (among others) to a pair of caricatures, published by Fores on the 9th of January, John Bull in Clover, and (by way of contrast), John Bull Done Over. In the first, fat John is enjoying himself with his pipe and his glass; the sleek condition of his dog shows that it shares in the comforts of its master's prosperity. John, in fact, has what our Transatlantic cousins call "a good time;" scattered over the floor lie invoices of goods despatched by him to customers in Spain, in Russia, in America. Beneath a portrait of "Good Queen Bess," John has pinned several of his favourite ballads: "The Land we live in," "Oh, the Roast Beef of Old England!" "May we all live the days of our life." In John Bull Done Over, a very different picture is presented to our notice. The whole of John's fat is gone; he sits, a lean, starving, tattered, shoeless object in a bottomless chair, the embodiment of human misery. In place of his invoices lie the Gazette, which announces his bankruptcy, and a number of tradesmen's bills; on the back of his chair is coiled a rope, and on the table before him a razor lies on a treatise on suicide,—John in fact is debating by what mode he shall put an end to his existence. An onion and some water in a broken jug are the only articles of sustenance he has to depend on. The tax gatherer, who has made a number of fruitless calls, looks through the broken panes to ascertain if John is really "at home." On the wall, in place of the picture of "Good Queen Bess," hangs a portrait of John Bellingham, the assassin of Spencer Perceval; and in lieu of his once joyous ballads, such doleful ditties as "Oh, dear, what can the matter be!" "There's nae luck about the house," and so on. The poor dog, grown like his master a lean and pitiable object, vainly appeals to him for food."England's hope"—the darling of the nation—the amiable and interesting Princess Charlotte, whose loss is still lamented after the lapse of more than half a century, died in childbirth on the 6th of November, 1817; but on the 24th of May, 1819, was born, at Kensington Palace, another amiable and august princess, whose life has been most happily spared to us—her present Majesty Queen Victoria. To show that the influence of the last century caricaturists had not yet left us, this auspicious event immediately gave rise to a coarse caricature, published by Fores, and labelled, A Scene in the New Farce called the Rivals, or a Visit to the Heir Presumptive, in which the scurrilous satirist depicts the supposed mortification and jealousy of other members of the royal family. Her Majesty's father, the Duke of Kent, died nine months afterwards, on. the 23rd of January, 1820.
- The new Alhambra
- A caricature entitled Doctors Differ, according to Mr. Grego (published in 1785) is due to Rowlandson. It is possible, therefore, that the present one, although not in Rowlandson's style, may be a reproduction.
- This admirable satire appears to me very like the handiwork of George Cruikshank; but not being able positively to identify it, I have given it its place in this chapter.
- See the caricatures of George Cruikshank, 1817.
Apparently by Williams.