Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/119

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

drinking the Bath waters in the midst of a circle of deeply interested and curious gazers. This poor old woman, who looks very like an old nurse, is no less a person than Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Queen of George the Third, who, in failing health and rapidly drawing towards the close of her earthly pilgrimage, had been recommended by her physicians to try the effect of the Bath waters. The excitement which this event occasioned in the then gay, but now decayed western city, is thus referred to by Mrs. Piozzi in two of her contemporary letters to Sir James Fellowes: "The queen has driven us all distracted; such a bustle Bath never witnessed before. She drinks at the Pump Room, purposes going to say her prayers at the Abbey Church, and a box is making up for her at the theatre." And again: "Of the clusters in the Pump Room who swarm round Queen Charlotte, as if she were actually the queen bee, courtiers must give you an account." At the back of Her Majesty's chair stands the portly figure of the Duke of Clarence, who recommends the old lady to qualify the water (which is evidently very distasteful to her) with a little brandy. "George and I," he adds, "always recommend brandy." A fat, well favoured woman in a flower-pot bonnet, with a gin bottle in her hand, on the other hand recommends the old queen to qualify the Bath water with a dash of "Old Tom," advice which is seconded by the old woman next her. Behind this last stands the physician, watch in hand, watching, and moreover predicting in very plain terms, the expected action of the medicated water. The folks behind make their observations on the old lady's appearance. "Well, I declare," says one, "I see nothing extraordinary to look at." "Why, she doant look a bit better than oul granny," remarks a country joskin. "Who said she did, eh, dame?" replies her companion. Poor old Queen Charlotte was never a beauty, and those who remember her exaggerated likenesses in the satires of Gillray, will not fail to recognise her in the present satire. One of her well-known habits is referred to by the snuff-box which lies at her feet.

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