« AnteriorContinuar »
SATIRES AND CARICATURES OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY.
A Comic History of England would specimens of either their poetry or be an exceedingly curious, and even a painting are in existence at the prevaluable work. We do not mean a sent day. It would not surprise us caricatured history, with great men if King John's courtiers had curried turned into ridicule, and important favour with their master by lampoon. events burlesqued ; such absurdities ing the absent Cæur-de-Lion; and may provoke pity, but they will doubtless when there were men sufhardly extort a smile from any whose ficiently sacrilegious to slay a churchsuffrage is worth courting. We have man at the altar, others may have had a vast deal of comic literature in ventured to satirize in rude doggrel this country during the last dozen the pride and presumption of Thomas years; quite a torrent of facetiæ, a à Becket. But have their graceless surfeit of slang and puns. One or effusions survived ? Can they be two popular humourists gave the im- traced in black letter, or deciphered petus, and set a host of imitators on the blocks of wood and stone sliding and wriggling down the in- referred to in Mr. Wright's preface? clined plane leading from wit and We fear not; and we believe that, up humour to buffoonery and bad taste. to the date of the invention of printThe majority reached in an instant ing, the history suggested would be the bottom of the slope, and have very meagre, and the task of writing ever since remained there. The truth it most ungrateful. For some time is, the funny style has been overdone ; after that date the humorous illusthe supply of jokers has exceeded the trations would be written, and not demand for jokes, until the very word pictorial; songs and lampoons, per“comic” resounds unpleasantly upon haps, but of caricatures few or none. the public tympanum. It were a For although caricature, in change to revert for a while to the variety or other, is ancient as the wit of our forefathers, at least as good, Pyramids, its introduction is recent we suspect, as much of more modern into the country where, of all others, manufacture. And therefore, we it seems most at home. Fostered by repeat, comic English history, political liberty, it has naturalized whose claims to the quality should be itself kindly on English soil, but its founded on its illustration by the foreign origin remains undeniable. Alsongs, satires, and caricatures of its ready, in the sixteenth century, Italy respective periods, would be interest- had her Caracci, and France her Callot; ing and precious in many ways; par- whilst in England we vainly seek, until ticularly as giving an insight into the appearance of Hogarth, a caricaturpopular feelings and characteristics,and ist whose name abides in our memories, often as throwing additional light upon or whose works grace our museums. the causes of important revolutions It is evident, ihen, that the easiest and political changes. It would cer way to write a history of the kind we tainly be a very difficult book to com. have spoken of, is to begin at the end pile. Instead of beginning at the and write backwards. At any rate usual starting-post of Roman inva- the historian avoids discouragement, sion, it could hardly be carried back at the very commencement, from the to the first William. The Saxons paucity of materials. And that is may possibly have revenged them- the plan Mr. Wright has adopted. selves on their conquerors by sati. Breaking new ground, he naturally rical ditties, and by rude and grow selected the spot most likely to reward tesque delineations; but it may be his toil, and pitched upon the reigns doubted whether any authenticated of the first three Georges. He could
England under the House of Hanover ; its History and Condition during the reigns of the three Georges, illustrated from the Caricatures and Satires of the day. By THOMAS WRIGHT, Esq., M.A., F.S.A. &c. With numerous illustrations, executed by F. W. FAIRHOLT, F.S.A. In two volumes. London: 1848.
hardly have chosen a more interesting from the Italian caricare, implies a period; and certainly, without coming thing overcharged or exaggerated in inconveniently near to the present its proportions. As an instance of day, he could have fixed on none these allegories, we may cite a Jacomore prolific in the satires and drol. bite medal, where Britannia is secn leries he has made it his business to weeping, whilst the horse of Hanover disinter and reproduce.
tramples on the lion and unicorn. The The contents of Mr. Wright's book English nation was at that period would sort into two comprehensive usually personified by Britannia and classes——the social and the political; her lion, until Gillray, much laterthe former the least voluminous, but taking the idea, it is said, from Dr. the most entertaining. Political sa Arbuthnot's satire-hit off the humourtires and caricatures, under the first ous figure of John Bull, which has been two Georges, possess but a moderate preserved, with more or less modificaattraction at the present day; and it tion, by all subsequent caricaturists. is not till the period of the American Hogarth, who first attracted notice in war-we might almost say not until 1723-4, by bis attacks upon the degenethat of the French revolution—that racy of the stage—then abandoned to they excite interest, and move to opera, masquerade, and pantomimemirth. The hits at the follies of so- brought up a broader style of caricature ciety at large have a more general and than his predecessors, but still he was enduring interest than those levelled too emblematical. Then, for a time, caat individuals and intrigues long since ricature got into the hands of amateur passed away. The first ten years of artists—female as well as male. Thus the accession of the House of Hanover a humorous drawing of the Italian were poor both in the number and singers, Cuzzoni and Farinelli, and of quality of caricatures; and the re- Heidegger the ugly manager, is attrimoteness of the period has en- buted to the Countess of Burlington. hanced the difficulty of finding Then, after an interregnum, during them. Written satires and pas- which caricature languished, Gillray quinades were abundant, but, to arose-Gillray, who, coarse and often judge from those preserved, few were indecent as he was (in which respects, worth preserving. Of these ephemeral however, he did but conform to the publications there exists no important tone and manners of his day), was collection, either public or private. unquestionably the ablest of his tribe, Of caricatures, more are to be got at, the most thoroughly English, and the although, strange to say, the British most irresistibly humorous caricaturist Museum contains very few. There we have had. The refined might tax was far less of humour and spirit in him with grossness, but his delineathose that appeared during the early tions went home to the multitude; and part of the eighteenth century than in to the multitude the caricaturist must those produced during its latter por- address himself, if he would produce tion. In fact, until the reign of George effect, and enjoy influence. II., the art could hardly be said to be while, during the war with France, cultivated. In the first hundred pages Gillray's active pencil was a power in of the book before us, which
comprise the state. In his turn he was surnearly the whole reign of George I., passed in coarseness and vulgarity, we find only fourteen cuts—a small but not in wit, by his contemporary proportion of the three hundred scat- Rowlandson. tered through the two volumes. And The sketches before us, of the hisscarcely one of the fourteen has the tory of England under the house of qualities essential to a genuine carica- Hanover, are not to be considered as ture. They aim at telling a story, or dependent on the satires and caricaconveying an insinuation, rather than tures used to illustrate them. They at burlesquing persons. Sometimes form a general narrative of the most the prints or medals (the latter were prominent events of a very important a favourite vehicle for the circulation century, with which are interwoven, of satire) were simple allegories, and when opportunity offers, the most reas such are incorrectly designated by markable pen and pencil pasquinades the word caricature, which, as derived of the day. The latter, however, have
not always been obtainable, or are not of every lay, and a peal of parodies worth recording. As we have already celebrated the flight of the Stuart. mentioned, they are scarce at the commencement of the book, which opens " 'Twas when the seas were roaring at the death of Queen Anne in 1714.
With blasts of northern wind,
Young Perkin lay deploring, When Jacobite plots were rife, and On warming-pan reclined: party feeling ran so high as to produce
Wide o'er the roaring billows
He cast a dismal look, freqnent bloody struggles in London
And shiver'd like the willows streets, between the Whigs or Hano
That trenible o'er the brouk." verians and the “ Jacks," as the adherents of the Pretender were styled One would think the “Oxford schoby their opponents, there appear to lars,” accounted such fervent Jacohave existed no draughtsmen of much bites, might have replied victoriously talent for caricature; whilst the poe- to such tepid couplets as this. But tical satires, judging from the specimens their hearts were down at their King's furnished by Mr. Wright, are very repulse. And poor as the verses middling in merit, although exceed- were, no doubt they took wonderfully ingly numerous. If there was little at the time,-so much, in such things, wit, there was much violence and depends upon the a propos. And now abuse on both sides. On the part of a large section of the Tories, previthe Jacobites, agitation was the order ously favourable to the Jacobites, of the day; and the mob, both in broke away from them in their misLondon and the provinces, were in- fortune, made their peace with the cited to many excesses-such a3 ruling powers, and took the oath of attacking houses, robbing passengers, allegiance. But long after fighting pulling down Dissenting chapels, and was over in the North-to be revived drinking James the Third's health in only in ’45 by the chivalrou Charles the open streets. In Manchester, in Edward—the Jacobite mob kept June, 1715, the population were for London in hot water, and, thanks to several days masters of the town. The the inefficiency of the police, might results were the passing of the Riot have done serious mischief, but for Act, and the quartering of cavalry in the Muggite societies formed at that the places most disaffected.
The period. These were simply Whig Whigs, on their part, were not idle, clubs, meeting at certain public-houses but carried on a brisk war of words, (the Magpie and Stump, in Newgate and raked up all the old stories about Street, was one), and sallying out the Pretender—that he was no king's upon occasion to fight the Jacobites. son, but a miller's offspring, conveyed The latter had also taverns of into the Queen's bed in a warming- rendezvous, but these were few, pan by the Jesuit Father Petre. Of and it was chiefly the lowest mob course such tales as these gave a fine that in London still sported the handle to squib and lampoon; and, in White Rose, and cursed the Hanovereference to the Jesuit's name, the rian. In most of the many conflicts Whigs designated the Pretender as that then occurred, the “ Jacks” got Peterkin or Perkin-an appellation the worst of it. If they assembled offering a convenient coincidence to break windows on an illuinination with that of a previous impudent as- night, or to burn William or George pirant to the English crown. To in effigy, they were soon assailed by sneers of this kind the Jacobite min- the Loyal Society, or some other strels manfully and spiritedly replied ; Whig association, who, acting as speand although the muse was less pro- cial constables without having taken pitious in England than in Scotland, the oath, drubbed them with cudgels
, there is no doubt these effusions had a and extinguished their bonfires. It considerable effect upon the people. would appear that the Jacks did not But the suppression of
rebellion often venture to impede the Whig damped their spirits, and with it their mob in the performance of analogous poetic fire; whilst the exulting Whigs ceremonies ; since we read of a certain triumphantly flapped their wings, and Fifth of November, when caricature crowed a yet louder strain. Perkin effigies of the Pretender and his chief and the warming-pan were the burden adherents and supporters were car
ried in triumph through the streets. blunderbusses. The following extracts “First, two men bearing each from newspapers of the time read warming-pan, with a representation oddly enough-especially when we of the infant Pretender-a nurse at- remember that not a hundred and tending him with a sucking bottle, thirty years have elapsed since the and another playing with him by crimes recorded in them occurred. beating the warming-pan.
“ Thursday, 21st January, 1720. About were followed by three trumpeters, five o'clock in the evening, the stageplaying Lillibulero and other Whig coach from London to Hampstead was tunes. Then came a cart with Or- attacked and robbed by highwaymen, at mond and Marr, appropriately dressed. the foot of the hill, and one of the pasThis was followed by another cart, sengers severely beaten for attempting containing the Pope and Pretender to hide his money.” seated together, and Bolingbroke as
“Sunday 24. At eight o'clock in the the secretary of the latter. They evening, tivo highwaymen attacked a were all drawn backwards, with hal gentleman in a coach on the South side ters round their necks.” The sole
of St. Paul's churchyard, and robbed
him." opposition made by the Jacobites to
“Sunday 31. A gentleman robbed and this outrageous demonstration, was murdered in Bishopsgate street.” by the somewhat paltry proceeding of “ Monday, February 1. The Duke of stealing the fagots collected for the Chandos, coming from Canons, had anoWhig bonfire. Four months after ther encounter with highwaymen, whom this, the Jacobites attempted a pro
he captured cession, and a great fight ensued, in
Tuesday 2. The postboy was atwhich the Whigs were victorious, tacked by three highwaymen in Tyburn after having “made rare work for the road, but the Duke of Chandos, happensurgeons." The government of the
ing to pass that way, came to his rescue." day showed little mercy to the rioters. His grace of Chandos seems to have Seditious ballad-singers, and persons been a sort of amateur thief-taker. holding disloyal discourse, were flogged Then we read of stage-coaches stopped and pilloried; and at last, the hanging and robbed between London and of several of the disaffected for storm- Stoke Newington, and of a certain day, ing a Mug-house, put an end to the when “all the stage-coaches coming disturbances. That the Whigs did from Surrey to London were robbed not bear their triumph very meekly by highwaymen.” At last a reward appears from the following paragraph, of one hundred pounds was offered extracted from Read's Weekly Journal for the apprehension of any highwayof June 15, 1717.
man within five miles of London. “ Last Monday being supposed to be Amongst those captured were several the birthday of the Sovereign of the persons of good repute in their White Rose, in respect to the anniversary respective callings. They included a an honest whig went from the Roebuck London tradesman, a Duke's valet, to St. James's, with a jackdaw finely and the keeper of a boxing-school. dressed in white roses, and set on a The speculative madness that prewarming-pan dedeckt with the same vailed in the year 1719-20, the sweet-scented commodity, which caused “ bubble mania," as it was called, abundance of laughter all the way, to the offered a fertile field to the satirist. great mortification of the Knights Com- The contagion was caught from France, panions of that order, and all the other where, about that time, John Law Jacks, to see their sovereign so maltreated in the person of his representative." projected his celebrated Mississippi
Company, and by his wild financial The poor crushed Jacobites were manæuvres, first rendered money a fain to grin and bear it.
mere drug, then plunged Paris and The suppression of political riots France into the profoundest misery. was followed by a great prevalence The outline of Law's history is famiof highway robberies, in and around liar to most persons. It will be rethe metropolis. The streets of Lon- membered how, having killed a man don were not safe, even in the day- in a duel in his own country, he broke time; and ladies went out in their his prison and fled to France, met chairs guarded by servants with loaded the young Duke of Orleans at the
house of a courtesan named Duclos, holders proved the exaggerated and and, being handsome, accomplished, fictitious value of the bonds, the mania and graceful, contracted with him an for speculation had crossed the Chanintimacy that led eventually to the nel, and raged in this country. The hatching of the notable Mississippi South-Sea bill passed through Parliascheme. The delusion began to flour- ment, and received the royal assent; ish towards the middle of 1718, and and on a sudden stock-jobbing seemed was at its apogee at the close of the to become the sole business of all following year. The market for the classes. The Tory papers ridiculed shares was in an insignificant street, the folly. Sir Robert Walpole pubstill existing in Paris under the name of lished a warning pamphlet, a prothe Rue Quincampoix, where every clamation forbade ihe formation of house was soon subdivided into an in- unauthorized companies ; but all in finity of little offices, and a dwelling vain. Shares in the most absurd whose usual rent was of six hundred bubbles were eagerly caught at, “A livres yielded one hundred thousand; company was even announced, and its where a cobbler gained two hundred shares bought, which was merely aillivres a-day, by, hiring out his shed to vertised as • for an undertaking which ladies who came to share in and look shall in due time be revealed. Among on at the game; and a hunchback other oud projects were companies earned a handsome income by lending for planting of mulberry trees, and his shoulders as a writing-desk. The breeding of silk-worms in Chelsea five-hundred-livre shares rose to twenty Park;' for importing a number of thousand livres—to a premium, that is large jack-asses from Spain, in order to say, of four thousand per cent to propagate a larger breed of mules Money was for the time so abundant, in England;' • for fattening of hogs.' that goods rose immensely, and articles In August, the stock of the various of luxury were all bought up. Cloth London companies was calculated to of gold, a French writer tells us, be- exceed the value of five hundred came exceeding rare, except in the millions." About this time Law's streets, where it was seen draping the credit balloon began 10 collapse, which plebeian persons of the newly-enriched was a hint to the English jobbers of speculators. A nobleman and a Mis- what they might in their turn expect. sissippian disputed a partridge in a It was nearly the end of the year cook's shop : the latter obtained it when he was compelled 10 fly from for two hundred livres, or more than Paris, and take refuge in Venice, where eight pounds! Beranger has devoted he died, an impoverished gambler, in a witty stanza to that year of mad- May 1729, leaving for sole inberit
ance a diamond worth about 1500
pounds sterling, which he had been in “ C'était la régence alors
the habit of pawning when hard Et sans hyperbole,
pushed. Many weeks before his deGrâce aux plus drôles de corps, La France étoit folle ;
parture from France, however, the Tous les hommes s'amusaient,
London companies were discredited Et les femmes se prêtaient
and turned into ridicule by a bost A la gaudriole au gué,
of songs and satirical pieces, one A la gaudriole."
of the best of which was the celebrated
South-Sea Ballad ; or, Merry Remarks As an essential preliminary to hold upon Exchange. Alley Bubbles. ing the office of Comptroller-general • From the month of October to of the French finances, Law allowed the end of the year, songs, and squibs, the Abbé de Tengin to convert him to and pamphlets of all descriptions, on the religion of Rome. This apostacy, the misfortunes occasioned by the and its disastrous consequences to explosion of the bubble system, beFrance, became the subject of many came exceedingly numerous. squibs and satirical verses when the The general feeling against the direcfallacy of the system ultimately ap- tors was becoming so strong in the peared. Before the panic came, how. month of November, that we are told ever, and an attempted realization it had become a practice among the on the part of some of the largest ladies, when in playing at cards they VOL. LXIV.