English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the Nineteenth Century. - How they Illustrated and Interpreted their Times.
by Graham Everitt
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A too zealous application to work has destroyed many men both of talent and genius; it produces different effects in different individuals, according to their respective temperaments: while it drove Robert Seymour to frenzy, it killed John Leech—a man of far finer imaginative faculties—with the terrible pangs of angina pectoris. Differently endowed as they were, both belonged to the order of men so touchingly described by Manfred:—

"There is an order Of mortals on the earth, who do become Old in their youth, and die ere middle age Without the violence of warlike death; Some perishing of pleasure, some of study, Some worn with toil, some of mere weariness, Some of disease, and some insanity, And some of wither'd or of broken hearts; For this last is a malady which slays More than are numbered in the lists of fate."[107]

The coadjutorship of distinguished artists and authors has led to more than one strange controversy. Those who have read Forster's "Life of Dickens" will remember the curious claim which George Cruikshank preferred after Dickens' death to be the suggester of the story of "Oliver Twist," and the unceremonious mode in which Mr. Forster disposed of that pretension. We have referred elsewhere to the edifying controversy between George Cruikshank and Harrison Ainsworth, in relation to the origin of the latter's novels of the "Miser's Daughter" and "The Tower of London." The republication of Seymour's "Humorous Sketches" in 1866, led to a very curious claim on the part of his friends, in which they sought to establish the fact that he was the originator and inventor of the incidents of "Pickwick." This claim happily was made while Dickens was yet alive, and was very promptly and satisfactorily disposed of by himself in a letter which he wrote to the Athenaeum on the 20th of March, 1866. Author and artist have long since gone to their rest; and the plan which the author of this work proposed when he sat down to write the story of Robert Seymour, was to place that artist in the position which he believes him to occupy in the ranks of British graphic humourists, and not to rake up or revive the memory of a somewhat painful controversy. Of the claim itself we would simply remark, that not only was it made in all sincerity by those who loved and cherished the memory of Robert Seymour, but that to a certain extent the claim has a foundation of fact to rest upon; for who will deny that had not Seymour communicated his idea to Chapman, and Chapman introduced the artist to Dickens, the "Pickwick Papers" themselves would have remained unwritten. In this sense, but in this sense only, therefore, Robert Seymour was the undoubted originator of "Pickwick." He was an artist of great power, talent, and ability; and it seems to us that those only detract from his fame who, in a kind but mistaken spirit of zeal, would claim for him any other position than that which he so justly and honestly earned for himself, as one of the most talented of English graphic satirists.


[97] "Greville Memoirs." vol. i. p. 180.

[98] Ibid., p. 207.

[99] His theory, as stated in a book which he published, was this: that as all men are born in moral sin, so they have about them a physical depravity in the form of an acrid humour, which, flying about the system, at length finds vent in diseases which afflict or terminate existence. He professed by the means afterwards explained to bring this acrid humour to the surface, and having thus expelled the cause of disease, to put an end to every bodily ailment.

[100] In allusion to a complex piece of machinery he said (in his book) he had invented, which when complete would cost him two thousand guineas. This machine, said Long, alias O'Driscoll, "will search all the body, and cut away all the diseased parts, leaving the patient perfectly sound and well."

[101] We found a curtailed copy of these amusing verses in one of the jeux d'esprit of the time, called "Valpurgis; or, the Devil's Festival" (William Kidd, 6, Old Bond Street, 1831), illustrated by Seymour. With the exception of one immaterial verse, we now give the complete poem; in the ring of the verses the reader will have no difficulty in recognising the hand of the Rev. Richard Harris Barham, subsequently author of the "Ingoldsby Legends."

[102] Anstey's "Pleader's Guide," Bk. 2nd (1810).

[103] Colonel Brereton. His conduct afterwards formed the subject of a court-martial, but the unhappy man forestalled the "finding" by committing suicide.

[104] Mr. a Beckett's strong point was puns; in later days he found a vehicle for these in the well-known "Comic Histories" of England and Rome, illustrated by John Leech. It was his peculiar good fortune always to be associated with artists of the highest ability.

[105] See Forster's "Life of Dickens."

[106] In one account of Seymour's death the name of the engraver is given as Starling. This is a mistake. The engraving (probably one of the best the unfortunate artist ever executed) represents a sailor captain of Charles the First's time, showing a casket of pearls to a lady of remarkable beauty.

[107] Act 3, Scene 1.



The years 1830-32 were full of political trouble; men's minds were unsettled; progress was the order of the day, and a reform in the election of the members who represented or who were supposed to represent the political opinions of the English constituencies was not only loudly called for, but had (as we have seen) for a very long time past been imperatively demanded. The question was shelved from time to time, but sooner or later it must be settled, and as Liberals and Conservatives alike will be amused and astounded at the state of English parliamentary representation half a century ago, we propose just to glance at matters as they existed in 1830.

The Marquis of Blandford was a somewhat notable character in those days. He had been a violent opponent of the Catholic Relief Bill; but from the moment that measure was carried had become as fiery and reckless a reformer.[108] On the 18th of February, 1830, he proposed that a committee should be chosen by ballot to take a review of all boroughs and cities in the kingdom, and report to the Secretary of State for the Home Department those among them which had fallen into decay, or had in any manner forfeited their right to representation on the principles of the English constitution as anciently recognised by national and parliamentary usage. The Home Secretary was to be bound immediately to act on this report, and to relieve all such places from the burthen of sending members to parliament in future, and the vacancies were to be supplied by towns which had hitherto been unrepresented. All parliamentary representatives were to be elected by persons "paying scot and lot." He further proposed to extend the right of voting to all copyholders and leaseholders, and to place the representation of Scotland on an equal footing with that of England. The members were to be chosen from the inhabitants of the places for which they were returned, and were to be paid for their services according as they were borough or county members. The former were to receive two guineas a day each, and county members four guineas; why the latter were to be estimated at double the value of the former does not seem clear. Mr. Brougham, although ready to vote for this somewhat extraordinary measure, "because much of what it proposed to do was good," recommended that a merely general resolution that reform was necessary should be substituted in its place. Lord Althorp moved an amendment accordingly on the terms suggested; but both the amendment and the original motion were negatived.

On the third reading of what was then known as the "East Retford" bill, the first attempt was made in parliament by O'Connell to introduce a new principle into the representative system of the country, viz., that the votes of the electors should be taken by ballot. Only twenty-one members voted for O'Connell's motion, among whom the names now most familiar to us are those of Lord Althorp, Sir Francis Burdett, and Mr. Hume.

The most ultra-Conservative, however, of our day, who thinks that the representation of the people has already been carried far enough, will scarcely credit the fact, that in those days constituencies such as Leeds, Manchester, and Birmingham were absolutely unrepresented. Yet such was the case. The motion for transferring the franchise of East Retford to Birmingham having been lost, Lord John Russell, on the 23rd of February, brought the matter of the great unrepresented constituencies before parliament by moving for leave to bring in a bill "to enable Leeds, Manchester, and Birmingham to return members to the House of Commons." It seems scarcely credible to us now-a-days, that this reasonable motion was negatived by 188 to 140.

On the 28th of May, O'Connell brought in a wilder scheme. He moved for leave to bring in a bill to establish triennial parliaments, universal suffrage, and vote by ballot; the simple foundation of his system being that every man who pays a tax or is liable to serve in the militia is entitled to have a voice in the representation of the country. Only thirteen members were found to join him in a house of 332. Lord John Russell, who took advantage of this motion to introduce certain resolutions of his own, embracing a wider scheme of reform than that included in his former programme, could not consent to any part of O'Connell's scheme. Dismissing the subject of triennial parliaments as a subject of comparative unimportance, and passing on to the other propositions, universal suffrage and vote by ballot, he contended that both were incompatible with the principles of the English Constitution. Mr. Brougham, while he thought that the duration of parliaments might be shortened with considerable advantage, provided that other measures for removing improper influence were adopted, declared himself both against universal suffrage and against vote by ballot; and he entered into a full statement of the grounds on which he held that the secresy of voting supposed to be attained by the ballot would produce most mischievous consequences without securing the object which it professed to have in view. The resolutions moved by Lord John Russell (after O'Connell's motion had been negatived) were as follows: (1) "That it was expedient the number of representatives in the House should be increased;" (2) "That it was expedient to give members to the large and manufacturing towns, and additional members to counties of great wealth and population." Under the second of the resolutions, it was proposed to divide large and populous counties, such as Yorkshire for instance, into two divisions, and to give to each of them two members. Among the towns proposed to be benefited were such important centres as Macclesfield, Stockport, Cheltenham, Birmingham, Brighton, Whitehaven, Wolverhampton, Sunderland, Manchester, Bury, Bolton, Dudley, Leeds, Halifax, Sheffield, North and South Shields; while it was stated that the same principle would apply to extend the representation to cities of such importance as Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Belfast. All the resolutions, however (comprising a third which we have considered it unnecessary to refer to), were negatived by the amazing majority of 213 to 117. The fact that this was a much larger majority than that which had thrown out the previous and more limited proposal for extending the franchise to three only of the manufacturing towns, will suffice to show the spirit in which the unreformed parliament of 1830 was accustomed to receive any suggestion of improvement and reform, reasonable or otherwise.

It may perhaps seem strange that at this stirring period there was an absolute dearth of political caricaturists, but the fact we have already attempted to account for. George Cruikshank, the finest caricaturist of his day, as well as his brother Robert, neither of whom can be described as purely political satirists, had now practically retired from the practice of the art, and were employed on work of a totally different character. Political caricature languished; indeed, if we perhaps except William Heath, oftentimes better known by his artistic pseudonym of "Paul Pry," there was not a political caricaturist of any note in 1829-30.

At this juncture there arose a graphic satirist—if indeed we are justified in so terming him—of genuine originality. Before 1829, he had been known only as a miniature painter of some celebrity; but he possessed a taste for satiric art, and had essayed several subjects of political character which he treated in a style and manner differing altogether from the mode in which satirical pictures had hitherto been treated. These he showed to Maclean, one of the great caricature publishers of the day, who had sufficient discernment and prescience to recognise in them the work of a man of unquestionable original ability. He prevailed on the artist to publish these specimens, and their success was so genuine and unmistakable that both publisher and artist decided to continue them. Thus commenced a series of political pictures which ultimately numbered almost a thousand, and ran an uninterrupted course of prosperity for a period of upwards of two and twenty years.

The enormous success and reputation which the "sketches," as they were called, achieved, was due not only to the cleverness and originality of the artist himself, but also in a great measure to the mystery which attended their publication and appearance. Both parties concerned in their production preserved an inviolable secrecy on the subject of the identity of the artist and the place whence the "sketches" originated. Mr. Buss tells us,[109] "the drawings were called for in a mysterious hackney coach, mysteriously deposited in a mysterious lithographic printing office, and as mysteriously printed and mysteriously stored until the right day of publication." The HB mystery was most religiously preserved for a great number of years, both by the artist and the publisher. The initials afforded no clue to those not immediately concerned in preserving the secret; and yet in this very original monogram lay the key to the whole of the mystery. The origin of this signature was simply the junction of two I's and two D's (one above the other), thus converting the double initials into HB. The single initials were those of John Doyle, father of the late Richard Doyle, who afterwards made his own mark as a comic artist in the pages of Punch and elsewhere.

The "sketches" of HB were a complete innovation upon pictorial satire. The idea of satirizing political subjects and public men without the exaggeration or vulgarity which the caricaturists had more or less inherited from Gillray, was entirely new to the public, and took with them immensely; and herein lies their peculiarity, that whilst the subjects are treated with a distinctly sarcastic humour, there is an absence of anything approaching to exaggeration, and the likenesses of the persons represented are most faithfully preserved. Whilst claiming for himself the character of a pictorial satirist, the artist is all throughout anxious to impress upon you the fact that he repudiates the notion of being considered a caricaturist in the Johnsonian meaning of the word. This idea seems also to have struck Thackeray, who, writing at the time when the sketches were appearing, says of him, "You never hear any laughing at 'H.B.'; his pictures are a great deal too genteel for that,—polite points of wit, which strike one as exceedingly clever and pretty, and cause one to smile in a quiet, gentlemanlike kind of way."[110] Throughout the series of sketches we know but of one instance where the artist suffers any comparison to be established between himself and the political caricaturists who had preceded him, and that is the one entitled Bombardment Extraordinary (having reference to the indictment for libel against the Morning Journal, which was shortly followed by the collapse of that paper), which is treated to the full as coarsely as Gillray himself might desire. The fact of this being among the earliest sketches would seem to show that the artist had not then quite made up his mind whether to follow in the footsteps of his great predecessor or not. We think the result must have convinced him that, whilst having distinct merits of his own as a satirist, and indeed as an artist, he was very far behind Gillray; and the rest of the sketches seem to show that their designer had made up his mind that no middle course was possible;—in other words, that he must be HB or nothing.

The faithfulness of the likenesses of the persons who appear in these "sketches" is simply marvellous. Not only has the artist preserved the features of the subjects of his satires, but he has caught their attitude—their manner, almost their tricks and habits,—and the drawings being, as we have said, wholly free from exaggeration, the very men stand before you, often, it is true, in absurd and ridiculous positions. The persons who figure in these lithographs comprise among names of note many whose reputations were too ephemeral to preserve them from oblivion. On the other hand, amongst the various groups we recognise Prince Talleyrand, the Dukes of Cumberland, Gloucester, Wellington, and Sussex, George the Fourth, William the Fourth, Louis Philippe, her present Majesty, Lord Brougham, Colonel Sibthorpe, Count Pozzo di Borgo, Daniel O'Connell, Lord John Russell, Sir Robert Peel, Mr. Hume, Lord Melbourne, Lord Palmerston, Sir Francis Burdett, Mr. Roebuck, Sir James Graham. Persons with no political reputation or connection are occasionally introduced to serve the purposes of the artist: doing duty for him in this manner we find the Rev. Edward Irving; Townsend the "runner," of Bow Street notoriety; George Robins, the auctioneer; Liston, the comedian; and others.

Ever on the alert for comic subjects, John Doyle was remarkably prompt and ready to catch an idea. Frequently these ideas were suggested to him by a phrase—a sentence—a few words in a speech; occasionally he takes a hint from his Lempriere; whilst not unfrequently his happiest conceptions are derived from a character or scene in one of the popular operas or farces of the time. Thus, in one of the debates on the Reform Bill in the House of Lords, some very high words passed between Lords Grey and Kenyon, the latter applying the words "abandoned" and "atrocious" to the conduct of the former, who on his part declared in reply that he threw back the expressions with scorn and indignation. In the midst of the confusion the Duke of Cumberland rose, and implored their lordships to tranquillize themselves and proceed with the debate in a temperate and orderly manner, advice which, after taking time to cool, they thought it prudent to follow. The farce of "I'll Be Your Second" was then running at the Olympic, Mr. Liston taking the part of "Placid," who, having a pecuniary interest in one of the characters who has a weakness for duelling, is kept in a state of nervous anxiety, and constantly interposes with the question, "Can't this affair be arranged?" In one of his "sketches," HB gives us A Scene from the Farce of "I'll Be Your Second," in which the Duke of Cumberland is represented as Placid, endeavouring to arrange matters amicably between my Lords Kenyon and Grey.


The duke himself was one of the most unpopular personages of his time, and evinced on his part a contempt for public opinion which did nothing to lessen the prejudice with which he was generally regarded. We dislike a man none the less for knowing that he is conscious of and indifferent to our good or bad opinion; and so it was with the Duke of Cumberland. He followed his pleasure (field sports amongst the rest) with a serene and happy indifference to all that the world might think or say about him. This characteristic of his Royal Highness is satirized in another of the "sketches," where he is supposed to sing "My Dog and My Gun," as "Hawthorn," in the then popular opera of "Love in a Village." His Royal Highness made himself a remarkable character in those smooth-faced days by wearing a profusion of whisker and moustache perfectly white. A rumour somehow got abroad and was circulated in the tittle-tattle newspapers of the time, that at the instance of some fair lady he had shaved off these martial appendages. The cavalry for some unexplained reason were the only branch of the service who were then permitted to wear moustaches, and in one of his sketches, the artist places the smooth-shaved duke in the midst of his brother officers, who regard him with the greatest horror and amazement.

The Ministry which succeeded that of the Duke of Wellington had entered office under express declaration that they would forthwith apply themselves to the reform of the representation of the people; and accordingly, on the 1st of March, 1831, a bill for that purpose was actually introduced by Lord John Russell; but the strength and violence of the opposition which could still be mustered against it may be judged by the fact, that the second reading was carried by the hopeless majority of one in the fullest house that had ever been assembled. A dissolution took place shortly afterwards, and the avowed intention of such dissolution had been to obtain from the people at the general election (which followed) a House of Commons pledged to support the Reform Bill; indeed, the only test by which candidates were tried, was their expressed pledge to support this particular measure. On the 24th of June, 1831, Lord John Russell again moved for leave to bring in a bill to amend the representation of England, and the difference in the result obtained by the election is conclusively shown by the fact, that the votes for the second reading were 367 against 231. On the 13th of July it passed into Committee, and on the 7th of September, the bill as amended in Committee was reported to the House; the majority in favour of the motion for passing it was found to be 109, the ayes being 345, and the noes 236.


The Reform Bill next day was carried up to the Lords by Lord John Russell, attended by about a hundred of its staunchest supporters in the lower House. These gentlemen appear to have adopted the unusual mode of exciting the attention of the peers and giving to the function they were performing a striking and theatrical character, by accompanying the delivery of the bill to the Lord Chancellor with their own characteristic "Hear, hear." A cry of "order" recalled them to a sense of the presence in which they stood. In Doyle's contemporary sketch of Bringing up our Bill, this incident is referred to. Lord Chancellor Brougham stands at the bar of the House to receive it from the hands of the member who leads the deputation (Lord John Russell); behind him we see Lord Althorp, the Marquis of Chandos, and the Right Hon. John Wilson Croker, who exchange signs with their fingers, showing that the proceeding does not altogether meet with their approval. In the background may be seen Sir Charles Wetherell, hated of the reformers of Bristol, looking as opposed to the measure as ever; the bill, as we know, was thrown out by the Lords in October, by a majority of 41. The same month, its enthusiastic advocate, the Rev. Sydney Smith, at a reform meeting at Taunton, compared the attempt of the House of Lords to stop the progress of reform to a certain fictitious Dame Partington of Sidmouth, who had essayed during the progress of the great storm to arrest the progress of the Atlantic with her broom. "The Atlantic was roused," said the wit; "Mrs. Partington's spirit was up; but I need not tell you that the contest was unequal. The Atlantic Ocean beat Mrs. Partington." Immediately after this speech appeared the sketch of Dame Partington and the Ocean of Reform, in which the character of the apocryphal and obstinate dame is sustained by that vigorous opponent of the Reform Bill, his grace the Duke of Wellington.


As the Lords had thrown out the Reform Bill, it was necessary to begin de novo. Accordingly, on the 12th of December, Lord John Russell again moved for leave to bring in a new Reform Bill, which passed the third reading by a majority of 116 on the 23rd of March, 1832, and its second reading in the House of Peers, by a majority of nine, on the 14th of April. Then the fighting and opposition became once more as strenuous and as sustained as ever. On a subsequent division the ministry were left in a minority of thirty-five, whereupon Earl Grey proceeded to the king, and tendered to his Majesty the alternative either of arming the ministers with the powers they deemed necessary to carry through their bill (which really meant a power to create whatever new peers they might deem requisite for the purpose), or of accepting their own immediate resignation. In the course of the following day the king informed his lordship that he had determined to accept his resignation rather than have recourse to the only alternative which had been proposed to him; and accordingly, on the 9th, Earl Grey announced in the House of Lords, and Lord Althorp in the Commons, that the ministry was at an end, and simply held office till their successors should be appointed. The Duke of Wellington attempted to form an administration, and failed—and his failure left matters, the ministers, and the perplexed monarch, of course exactly "as they were."

The excitement occasioned by the Lords was tremendous. At London, Birmingham, Manchester, and other large centres, simultaneous meetings were held to petition the Commons to stop the supplies. In the metropolis placards were everywhere posted, recommending the union of all friends of the cause; the enforcement of the public rights at all hazards; and a universal resistance to the payment of taxes, rates, tithes, and assessments; the country in fact was on the brink of revolution. At the meetings of the political societies, even in the leading journals, projects were openly discussed and recommended for organizing and arming the people; the population of the large towns was ready to be launched on the metropolis. "What was to be done—peers or no peers? A cabinet sat nearly all day, and Lord Grey went once or twice to the king. He, poor man, was at his wits' end, and tried an experiment (not a very constitutional one) of his own by writing to a number of peers, entreating them to withdraw their opposition to the bill."[111] The letter to which Mr. Charles Greville refers is evidently the following circular:—

"ST. JAMES'S PALACE, May 17th, 1832.

"MY DEAR LORD,—I am honoured with his Majesty's command to acquaint your lordship, that all difficulties to the arrangements in progress will be obviated by a declaration in the House to-night from a sufficient number of peers, that in consequence of the present state of affairs, they have come to the resolution of dropping their further opposition to the Reform Bill, so that it may pass without delay, and as nearly as possible in its present shape.

"I have the honour to be yours sincerely,


Such a request, coming from such a quarter, was not only weighty in itself, but necessarily implied after all that had taken place, that his Majesty suggested this course as the only means of avoiding the creation of a large number of additional peers. The majority of the House were thus placed in the unenviable position of being compelled to choose whether they would see a hundred members added to the number of their opponents to carry a measure which was hateful to them, or to abandon for a time their rights, privileges, and duties as legislators. They chose the latter alternative, and during the remainder of the discussion on the bill, not more than between thirty and forty attended at any one time. By this means, and this only, the bill was eventually carried.

On these grounds John Doyle appears to have founded his theory that William the Fourth was a sincere convert to Reform.[112] In one of the "sketches" he shows us his Majesty in the character of Johnny Gilpin carried along at headlong speed by his unmanageable grey steed "Reform." He flies past the famous hostelry at Edmonton, where his wife and her friends (represented by the Duke of Wellington and a party of Tories) are anxiously awaiting his arrival. The turnpike-keeper (John Bull) throws open the gate to let him pass, too delighted with the fun to think of any personal expense to himself, and conscious that if the gate is shut the inexpert horseman must come to unutterable grief. The bottles dangling at Gilpin's waist are filled with "Birmingham froth" and "Rotunda pop," in allusion to the stump oratory of the Birmingham Political Union and the Rotunda in Blackfriars Road. Hume and O'Connell, the ardent supporters of the bill, cheering with might and main, closely follow John on horseback; while Sir Francis Burdett and Sir T. C. Hobhouse, equally ardent advocates of Reform, join the cry on foot. The frightened geese with coroneted heads represent, of course, the peers, who had offered such determined opposition to the measure, while the old apple woman rolling in the mud is no other than poor Lord Eldon. The bird of ill-omen foretelling disaster is Mr. Croker, Secretary to the Admiralty. Later on the same year (1832), we find his Majesty represented as Mazeppa bound to the grey steed Reform, several of the Conservative members of either houses of Parliament doing duty as the wolves and "fearful wild fowl" that accompany the rider in his perilous course. In another satire, the king, supposed to have discovered his mistake, figures as Sinbad the Sailor, vainly endeavouring to shake himself free of the old man of the sea (Earl Grey), who however is too firmly seated on his shoulders to be dislodged.


The Duke of Wellington's political convictions having prompted him to be among one of the leading opponents to the Reform Bill, he narrowly escaped serious injury at the hands of the London rabble. On the 18th of June, 1832, having occasion to pay a visit to the Mint, a crowd of several hundred roughs collected on Tower Hill to await his return; and on making his appearance at the gate he was hissed and hooted by the crowd, who followed him along the Minories yelling, hooting, and using abusive language, their numbers and threatening demeanour momentarily increasing. About half-way up the Minories he was met by Mr. Ballantine, the Thames police magistrate, who asked him if he could render him any assistance; but the cool, courageous soldier simply replied that he did not mind what was going on. When his grace had got to about the middle of Fenchurch Street, one of the cowardly ruffians rushed out of the crowd, and seizing the bridle with one hand attempted to dismount the duke with the other, in which he would have succeeded but for the courageous conduct of the groom and a body of city police, who opportunely made their appearance at the time. The mob had now grown as numerous as it was cowardly; but by the exertions of the police, his grace was escorted through it and along Cheapside without sustaining personal injury. In Holborn, however, the rabble, growing bolder, began to throw stones and filth, and the duke, followed by the canaille, rode to the chambers of Sir Charles Wetherell, in Stone Buildings, Lincoln's Inn, where he remained, till a body of police arrived from Bow Street, by whom he was escorted in safety to Apsley House. To make the outrage more disgraceful, if possible, it happened on the anniversary of the crowning victory of Waterloo; the mob, forgetting in their unreasoning wrath the priceless services the great soldier had rendered to the nation, whilst the cowardly rascals who composed it were the very persons who could by no possibility be benefited by the provisions of the bill in which they professed to take so great an interest. On the night of the illumination which followed the passing of the Act, they broke the windows of his grace and other opponents of the measure; and in one of the contemporary HB sketches, Taking an Airing in Hyde Park, the duke is seen looking out of one of his broken window-panes. Before the end of the year he was visited by serious illness, and the angry feelings his opposition to the measure had provoked, and which had been gradually subsiding, were suddenly followed by a complete reaction in his favour. HB commemorates this in his sketch of Auld Lang Syne, which shows the happy reconciliation between John Bull and the hero of Waterloo.


Consistently and conscientiously as the great duke had opposed what he considered the revolutionary tendency of the Reform Bill, it must not be forgotten that it is to him that the Catholics owe the benefits of the Act of 1829, which relieved them of the disabilities under which they had so long suffered; and it must not be forgotten too, that in this measure he had not only to contend with his own repugnance to Catholic emancipation, but also with that of his chief colleagues,—of the great majority of the House of Lords, and of the king himself. With the latter indeed his task had been a very difficult one; and it was only a few days before the meeting of Parliament in the early part of 1829, that the consent of George the Fourth had been obtained. Among the most strenuous of the duke's opponents to the Catholic Relief Bill was the Earl of Winchelsea, who, in the unreasoning bitterness of his anger, shut his eyes to the injustice under which the Catholics had so long suffered, and most unwarrantably charged his grace with an intention "to introduce Popery into every department of the State." These words led to a hostile meeting in Battersea Fields on the 21st of March, 1829. Lord Winchelsea, after receiving the duke's fire, discharged his pistol in the air, and there the affair ended, his second delivering a written acknowledgment expressing his lordship's regret for having imputed disgraceful motives to the conduct of the duke, in his pro-Catholic exertions. Twelve months afterwards, on the 2nd of April, 1830, Richard William Lambrecht was indicted at Kingston assizes for the murder of Oliver Clayton, whom he had shot in a duel in Battersea Fields on the preceding 8th of January. Lambrecht had a narrow escape, for the judge in his summing up told the jury that if they were of opinion that the accused met Clayton "on the ground with the intention, if the difference could not be settled, of putting his life against Clayton's, and Mr. Clayton's against his," the prisoner was guilty of wilful murder; and the jury, finding on application to the learned judge that there were no circumstances in the case to reduce the crime to manslaughter, by way apparently of getting out of the difficulty, returned a verdict of not guilty. This incident suggested the sketch entitled A Hint to Duellists, in which the unsparing satirist places the duke in Lambrecht's unenviable position before Mr. Justice Bailey, from whose lips are proceeding a portion of the charge which he actually delivered to the jury at the trial at Kingston assizes. Even the duke, impassive as he appeared, must have felt the justice of this unsparing but admirable sarcasm.

Another member of the royal family who frequently figures in the "sketches" is the Duke of Sussex. He was a man of large frame, and as remarkable for the blackness of his whiskers as the Duke of Cumberland was conspicuous for the bleached appearance of these hirsute adornments. At a meeting of the council of the London University, he is reported to have said that for the promotion of anatomical science he should have no personal objection to dedicate his own body after death to the College of Surgeons for the purposes of dissection. This hint was enough of course for HB, and his royal highness accordingly figures in a contemporary satire as A great Subject "Dedicated to the Royal College of Surgeons."


Another prominent personage of HB's time, and a singular instance of the change which frequently takes place in the political convictions of public men, was Sir Francis Burdett. Commencing his career as an ardent radical and reformer intolerant of abuses, he finished it and astonished his former supporters by being returned for Westminster in the Conservative interest. The political conduct of this once celebrated man is of so unusual a character that a short recapitulation of his career seems necessary, in order that the reader may understand the satires we are about to describe. Notwithstanding his expressed views in support of absolute purity of election, his own election for Middlesex in 1802-4, is said—what with the expenses and subsequent litigation—to have cost him upwards of one hundred thousand pounds. On the 5th of May, 1807, he was challenged by and fought a duel with Mr. James Paull, on Wimbledon Common, the cause of quarrel being Sir Francis's refusal to act as chairman at a gathering of Paull's supporters at the Crown and Anchor Tavern, Westminster, in April. The duel terminated in both the principals being seriously wounded. The same year he was returned to Parliament to serve as member for Westminster, which constituency he continued to represent for nearly thirty years. Perhaps the greatest event of his life was his committal to the Tower under the Speaker's warrant for a libellous letter published in Cobbett's Political Register, of 24th March, 1810, in which he questioned the power of the House to imprison delinquents. He at first resisted the execution of the warrant, and being a favourite with the mob, a street contest ensued between the military and the people, in which some lives were lost. In 1818, we find him moving for annual parliaments and universal suffrage, when the House divided with the result of 100 to 2, the minority being composed of the mover and seconder—that is to say, himself and Lord Cochrane. In 1820, he was found guilty at Leicester of a libel on Government in a letter to his constituents reflecting on the Manchester outrage of the preceding year; a new trial was moved for by himself, but this was refused, and he was sentenced the following February to three months' imprisonment, and to pay a fine of L2,000. In March, 1825, his resolutions for the relief of the Irish Catholics were carried by a majority of 247 to 234; but in later life his restless spirit gradually calmed down, and after the appointment of the Melbourne Ministry in 1835, he surprised and disgusted his party by going into opposition, principally (as he alleged) on account of the court which they paid to O'Connell and his followers in their agitation against the Irish Established Church. For some time previous to the sketch we are about to describe he had absented himself from the House, and otherwise shown his distaste for the persons and principles of the leading men of the party to which he had formerly belonged. The busy-bodies who professed to be the exponents of public opinion in Westminster, pressed him for an explicit statement of his views, and eventually called upon him to resign, and he took them directly at their word. The person brought forward to oppose him was John Temple Leader, then member for Bridgwater, a name which suggested to the artist the pictorial pun of Following the Leader, the "followers" being Lord Melbourne, Lord John Russell, Lord Palmerston, Mr. O'Connell, Sir J. Hobhouse, Mr. Hume, and Sir William Molesworth. Notwithstanding the exertions of the ministers and their friends to secure the election of Mr. Leader, that gentleman was not only beaten by a very considerable majority, but lost as a natural consequence his seat for Bridgwater, a fact which suggested to the artist another able sketch, The Dog and the Shadow. The election itself forms the subject of A Race for the Westminster Stakes, in which the aged thoroughbred (Sir Francis), ridden by Lord Castlereagh, beats the young horse Leader, jockey Mr. Roebuck. Among the backers of the losing horse, Daniel O'Connell and Joseph Hume may be easily detected by the lugubrious expression of their faces. The sketch of A Fine Old English Gentleman was suggested by a remark made by the Times during the progress of the contest, in which it described Sir Francis as "a fine specimen of the old English gentleman." In the left-hand corner of this sketch the artist has placed a picture of the Tower of London, by way of reminder of the days when the baronet was regarded not so much in the light of "a fine old English Gentleman" as a radical of the most advanced type, and as a martyr in the cause of public liberty.


A change of opinion however is obviously a necessary incident of political life, and we have ourselves witnessed some remarkable instances of such versatility in our own days. In some cases these changes are only temporary or partial, in others they are radical and complete; sometimes they are dictated by conviction, at others by necessity; occasionally they seem to be the result of absolute caprice; while in not a few instances, I fear, we should not be very far wrong in assigning them to feelings of disappointment or personal or political pique. This tergiversation in public men forms the subject of one of HB's happiest inspirations. In 1837 there appeared at the Adelphi Theatre an American comedian named Rice, the forerunner of the Christies and other "original" minstrels of our day, who sang in his character of a nigger a comic (?) song, which, being wholly destitute of melody, and even more idiotic than compositions of that kind usually are, forthwith became exceedingly popular, being groaned by every organ, and whistled by all the street urchins of the day. This peculiar production, which was known as "Jim Crow," was accompanied by a characteristic double shuffle, while every verse concluded with this intellectual chorus:—

"Turn about, and wheel about, And do just so; And every time I turn about, I jump Jim Crow."

In Jim Crow Dance and Chorus (the title of the sketch referred to), we find the leading men of all parties assembled at a ball, engaged in the new saltatory performance initiated by Mr. Rice. In the left-hand corner we notice Lord Abinger, formerly Sir James Scarlett, a Whig, who growing tired of waiting for the advent of his own party to power, changed his political opinions—that is to say "jumped Jim Crow,"—and was made Attorney General by the Duke of Wellington. Next him is Lord Stanley, who commenced life as a Whig and was a member of Lord Grey's Reform administration, but unprepared to go the lengths which his party seemed disposed to take, he too "jumped Jim Crow," deserted them, and joined the ranks of the Opposition. Lord Stanley's vis-a-vis is Sir James Graham; in his early days he had distinguished himself by the strength of his radical opinions, but as a member of Lord Grey's cabinet, he suppressed these sentiments, and "jumped Jim Crow" by confining himself more strictly within Whig limits. Conspicuous amongst the performers is Lord Melbourne! When in office under Mr. Canning he had made several anti-Reform speeches, but afterwards became a member of the Government of Lord Grey by which Reform was carried;—as Prime Minister he went far nearer to the principles of absolute democracy than either Lord Grey or Lord Althorp. Lord Melbourne's face, however, shows unmistakable repugnance at finding that his numerous "wheels about" have brought him face to face with O'Connell, and he turns in disgust from the famous agitator, who, with his thumb to his nose and his left arm stuck in his side, shows that he has no intention of permitting him to enjoy a pas all to himself. O'Connell of course shows himself complete master of the figure which he had danced so frequently; one of the most shifty, unstable men of his day, he can scarcely be called a politician, for like all agitators, the person he really sought to serve was himself alone. He chopped and changed just as it suited his purpose, and is properly introduced by the artist amongst the most adroit and vigorous of the political double shufflers.

The Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel find themselves vis-a-vis, in allusion to their conduct with reference to Catholic Emancipation. Both had originally been consistent opposers of the measure, which was at last carried by the influence of the very men who before had been its most persistent adversaries.

But, if any one had "turned about and wheeled about," it was Sir Francis Burdett, and accordingly the artist introduces him as indulging in a very flourishing pas seul; he wears a self-satisfied smirk, and carries his thumbs in his waistcoat, in allusion to his own contention that he had been always consistent. Yet this self-satisfied aristocratic-looking personage not many years before had distinguished himself as the most prominent of radical malcontents, and had been drawn by his enthusiastic dupes through the city of Westminster in a triumphal car, decorated with the symbols of liberty, and preceded by a banner bearing the inscription, "Westminster's Pride and England's Glory."

The queer figure in the cocked hat is Sir de Lacy Evans, who figures as one of the dancers in allusion to his practice as compared with his professions. In 1833 he obtained a seat for Westminster, triumphing over his opponent Sir J. C. Hobhouse, who for fifteen years had represented that constituency, both candidates professing to be zealous advocates for the abolition of flogging in the army. Sir de Lacy nevertheless, when commanding the British Legion at St. Sebastian, "jumped Jim Crow" by flogging his soldiers without mercy. Lord John Russell once sneered at every project of Reform, but his Lordship, as we have seen, "jumped Jim Crow" by repeatedly introducing the Reform Bill into the House of Commons, which was mainly passed by his persistent exertions; very properly, therefore, Lord John figures in HB's clever sketch among the most prominent of "Jim Crow" double shufflers.


[108] These political changes, as we shall presently see, are by no means uncommon. William Cobbett, for instance, in 1801 supported the principles of Pitt, but in 1805, from a "Church and King" man, he became and continued an ardent liberal.

[109] "English Graphic Satire," by R. W. Buss.

[110] Westminster Review, June, 1840.

[111] Greville's "Memoirs," ii. p. 303.

[112] This was the idea of all Tories of the day. The terrible effects of the Reform Bill were amusingly predicted by John Wilson Croker to the king himself; they have not of course been fulfilled. See "Journal of Julian Charles Young" (Memoir of Charles Mayne Young, vol. i. p. 231).




Sydney Smith said of little Lord John Russell, that he was "ready to undertake anything and everything—to build St. Paul's,—cut for the stone,—or command the Channel fleet," and this satire of the wit was true. He tried politics and he tried literature, and few people will say that he was entirely successful at either. As a politician, for instance, his general capacity for getting himself and his party into a mess, earned from the most intellectually powerful of his political opponents the enduring title of "Lord Meddle and Muddle." He has not been dead very long, yet what reputation has he left behind him as a dramatist—novelist—historian—biographer—editor—pamphleteer, all of which roles he essayed at some time or other of his long and eventful career? His Nun of Arronca (1822) fetches it is true an exceedingly high price, because having been rigidly suppressed by its author it is now exceedingly rare. The best that can be said of Lord John—and that is saying a great deal—is, that he was a consistent Liberal according to his lights, and that to him belongs the honour and glory of bringing about the great measure of Reform, which, as we have seen, was, mainly through his instrumentality, accomplished in 1832.

Lord John, as might have been expected, frequently appears in the "political sketches" of HB. He cuts an amusing figure in one where Jonah (Lord Minto) is about to be thrown overboard by Lords Lansdowne, Palmerston, and Duncannon, by order of the captain (Lord Melbourne), to appease the storm raised by Lords Brougham and Lyndhurst in reference to a rumour that Lord Minto (First Lord of the Admiralty), had instructed British cruisers to stop all Sardinian vessels carrying warlike stores for Don Carlos. Lord John, while clinging to the mast behind, and viewing with terror the impending fate of his colleague, evidently solaces himself with the conviction that his own weight is too insignificant to have any material effect upon the safety of the ship. Minto owed his safety to the Duke of Wellington, who therefore figures in the sketch as the whale; for, although convinced that his lordship had been imprudent, he successfully resisted Brougham's motion for a copy of the instructions, and thereby succeeded in lodging poor Jonah on dry land.


One of the "sketches" in which Lord John Russell figures reminds us of a remarkable discussion which possesses considerable interest for every reader of the cheap newspapers of to-day. The Chancellor of the Exchequer (the Right Hon. Thomas Spring Rice) in opening his budget on the 6th of May, 1836, showed a disposable surplus of L662,000 only, which he proposed (in the usual way) to apply towards the reduction of taxation. He proposed, in the first place, to consolidate the paper duties and to reduce their amount in a manner which he proceeded to explain; and after accounting for L200,000, the balance of the surplus he intended to apply to the reduction of the stamp on newspapers. The duty minus the discount was fourpence, which he proposed to reduce to a penny, and to give of course no discount. The reader must not suppose from the foregoing, however, that all the proprietors of newspapers of that day paid the duty; on the contrary, the large majority evaded it in every possible way. The measure in fact was intended as much as a protection to the revenue as anything else, for the sale of unstamped newspapers throughout the country had become so extensive that no series of prosecutions was found effectual to put them down. Every sheet, it is true, professed to bear on it the printer's name; but the name so appended was in six cases out of eight a false one. Exchequer processes were issued; all the power of the law was set in motion; in the course of three weeks three hundred persons had been imprisoned for selling unstamped papers in the streets, but without in the slightest degree repressing the illegal sale. The Chancellor argued that the loss which the revenue would sustain in the first instance would be more than compensated by the enormous increase of duty to be obtained from the enlarged circulation; from the additional duty arising from the greater consumption of paper; and from the very large increase which might be expected from the produce of the duty on advertisements.

The opponents of the measure were of three classes: first, those who looked upon the proposal as radical and subversive; secondly, those who because a reduction is suggested in one quarter invariably consider it the correct thing to propose it in another; and lastly, the owners of the established newspapers of the day. The arguments of the first class assumed the following form: "In proportion as any political party approaches more or less towards pure democracy and the right divine of mere numbers, its interests will require that the means should be increased of disseminating among the lower classes, and as nearly gratuitously as possible, the exciting and poisonous food which is at last to end in the revolutionary fever."[113] The second class, strange to say, rested their hopes in this instance on the singularly slippery basis of soap. Sir C. Keightley moved (on the 20th of June) that instead of diminishing the stamp duty on newspapers, the duty on hard and soft soap should be reduced. The reduction of such duty would, he argued, by aiding cleanliness, promote the health and comfort of the people, while the lowering of newspaper stamps would do nothing of the kind, but would tend rather to introduce a cheap and profligate press, "one of the greatest curses which could be inflicted on humanity." He contended, moreover, that it was absurd to argue that the poor were debarred from reading the public prints, when in a coffee shop, for three-halfpence, they could obtain a cup of coffee and a sight of every newspaper published in London. Mr. Barclay, one of the members for Surrey, thought it impossible for any reasonable being to hesitate between the relative virtues of newspapers and soap; and as for the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he could not believe for one moment that if left to his own unaided judgment he would hesitate to give his preference to the latter. The Chancellor nevertheless avowed in the plainest terms his preference for newspapers, and his conviction of the advisability of an immediate reduction in the stamp duty; the result, after the lapse of less than forty years, has conclusively proved the wisdom of the measure which he succeeded in carrying.


Newspaper proprietorship was then a monopoly; and the argument by which the rich proprietor, the representative of the third class of opponents, sought to maintain his monopoly cannot fail to amuse the newspaper reader of to-day. The monopoliser who, to maintain the character of his paper and to supply the public with the best and earliest information, incurred the expense of procuring parliamentary reports, obtaining foreign intelligence, anticipating the arrival of the post by expresses, and by having correspondents in every quarter of the world where matters of interest were going forward, said, that should the measure pass, he must thenceforth either be content to lower the tone of the public press by not giving the same amount of accurate intelligence, or must carry on the contest with those who went to no expense at all. "The result would be not only the ruin of the property of the newspaper proprietors and the destruction of their property, but it would be something much more fatal to the general interests of the country, for the editors of the present respectable papers would not be able to compete with these predatory publications, and would be compelled to forego that extent of information which was then so accurately given. We should have the newspaper press"—mark this, ye omnivorous readers of to-day, who commence with The Times, adjourn to the Telegraph, peruse the pages of the Morning Post, wander through the columns of the Daily News, and finish off with the express edition of the Globe or Evening Standard, reserving your Saturday Review, your Truth, and your Vanity Fair for Sunday solatium—"we should have the newspaper press simply reduced to this state: that no longer would there be a regular and correct supply of information to the public respecting the debates of Parliament or other important matters, but there would be only such an amount and such a description of information as could be furnished upon the inaccurate data of a man who would not go to any expense in the use of the means at present employed." These were the views of the newspaper proprietors of 1836, as expounded by that respectable but distinctly Tory authority, "The Annual Register."[114]

The measure of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, of which we have attempted the foregoing explanation, appears to have suggested to John Doyle his sketch of The Rival Newsmongers, in which the leading men of all parties are represented in the act of endeavouring to force the sale of their own journals. The scene is supposed to be enacted in front of the Elephant and Castle, where we find the "Union Coach" waiting to take up passengers,—the three who occupy the roof being a Scotchman, indicated by his bonnet and plaid, Paddy by his shocking bad hat, while in the portly, jolly-looking party next him we have no difficulty whatever in recognising honest John Bull. The three are listening to the appeals of O'Connell, close to whom is Mr. Roebuck, and behind him again Mr. Hume. Sir Roger Gresley addresses himself to the insides, and the person holding up his paper to the special notice of John Bull is the Marquis of Londonderry. The driver of the coach is Lord Melbourne, and the ostler little Lord John Russell.


The public man who perhaps of all others earned and deserved his place in the pictorial satires of the nineteenth century was emphatically Brougham. The verdict of posterity on this restless but unquestionably brilliant man of genius must of necessity be a somewhat disappointing one; he aimed at being nothing less than an Admirable Crichton, and such a character in the nineteenth century, when every public man must be more or less talented, more or less brilliant, would be an impossibility even to a genius. A rival lawyer and political opponent, Sir Charles Wetherell is reported to have said of him that he knew a little of everything but law; and although this statement was spiteful and untrue, there is no doubt of the truth of Mr. Greville's remarks, that his duty as Chancellor was confined to appeals which must come before him, lunacy and other matters over which he had sole jurisdiction, and that "nobody ever thought of bringing an original cause into his court."[115] We think we may even go farther than this, and say that no lawyer of the present day would dream of relying on Lord Brougham's decisions. O'Connell said of him, "I pay very little attention to anything Lord Brougham says. He makes a greater number of foolish speeches than any other man of the present generation. There may be more nonsense in some one speech of another person, but in the number, the multitude of foolish speeches, Lord Brougham has it hollow. I would start him ten to one—ay, fifty to one—in talking nonsense against any prattler now living."

Some amusing examples of his restless anxiety to figure on all occasions in the character of an Admirable Crichton are given by Mr. Charles Greville, whose "Memoirs" stand in much the same relation to the graphic satires of the nineteenth century as the "Odes" of Dr. Walcot do towards the caricatures of James Gillray. "Dined," says Mr. Greville (under date of 7th June, 1831), "with Sefton yesterday, who gave me an account of a dinner at Fowell Buxton's on Saturday to see the brewery, at which Brougham was the magnus Apollo. Sefton is excellent as a commentator on Brougham; he says that he watches him incessantly, never listens to anybody else when he is there, and rows him unmercifully afterwards for all the humbug, nonsense, and palaver he hears him talk to people.... They dined in the brewhouse and visited the whole establishment. Lord Grey was there in star, garter, and ribbons. There were people ready to show and explain everything. But not a bit. Brougham took the explanation of everything into his own hands; the mode of brewing, the machinery, down to the feeding of the cart-horses. After dinner the account books were brought, and the young Buxtons were beckoned up to the top of the table by their father to hear the words of wisdom which flowed from the lips of my Lord Chancellor. He affected to study the ledger, and made various pertinent remarks on the manner of book-keeping. There was a man whom Brougham called 'Cornelius' (Sefton did not know who he was), with whom he seemed very familiar. While Brougham was talking he dropped his voice, on which 'Cornelius' said, 'Earl Grey is listening,' that he might speak louder and nothing be lost. He was talking of Paley, and said that 'although he did not always understand his own meaning, he always made it intelligible to others,' on which 'Cornelius' said, 'My good friend, if he made it so clear to others, he must have some comprehension of it himself;' on which Sefton attacked him afterwards, and swore that 'he was a mere child in the hands of "Cornelius;" that he never saw anybody so put down.' These people are all subscribers to the London University,[116] and Sefton swears he overheard Brougham tell them that 'Sir Isaac Newton was nothing compared to some of the present professors,' or something to that effect. I put down all this nonsense because it amused me in the recital, and is excessively characteristic of the man, one of the most remarkable that ever existed. Lady Sefton told me that he went with them to the British Museum, where all the officers of the Museum were in attendance to receive them. He would not let anybody explain anything, but did all the honours himself. At last they came to the collection of minerals, when she thought he must be brought to a standstill. Their conductor began to describe them, when Brougham took the words out of his mouth, and dashed off with as much ease and familiarity as if he had been a Buckland or a Cuvier. Such is the man, a grand mixture of moral, political, and intellectual incongruities."[117]

If the part which Brougham's position as attorney-general to Queen Caroline obliged him to take at the memorable period of the "Bill of Pains and Penalties" had not closed the door of professional advancement against him, he had most effectually locked it against himself so long as her husband lived by the intemperate and ill-judged language in which he alluded to that event in the speech which he delivered at Edinburgh on the 5th of April, 1825.[118] But Brougham was constantly on the watch for its being opened, and on the very day when George the Fourth died, that is to say on the 20th of June, 1830, he spoke in the House of Commons in eulogistic terms of the new sovereign, praising him for allowing the Speaker to take the oaths at an unusually early hour in order to suit the convenience of members, a graceful act, which Mr. Brougham declared he hailed as a happy omen of the commencement of an auspicious reign. The astute K. C.'s object did not escape the penetrating eye of HB, who forthwith represented him as The Gheber Worshipping the Rising Sun, in whose smiling face we recognise the unmistakable lineaments of William the Fourth. The sun proved not unmindful of the attention; for, on the formation of Earl Grey's ministry in 1830, Mr. Brougham was made Lord Chancellor, with the title of Baron Brougham and Vaux. The appointment took the nation by surprise; for although a consistent upholder of Whig principles, he had always maintained a peculiar and independent position with his party, and was expected to prove rather an embarrassment than otherwise. These expectations were fully realized, and there can be no doubt that the sentiments which Lord Brougham's bearing as Chancellor excited among his colleagues and contemporaries, excluded him for the remainder of his life from all official life and employment.

With all his wonderful powers, however, Lord Brougham could make, as O'Connell asserted of him, as inconsiderate a speech as any man. One of these speeches, which was delivered on the 14th of August, 1833, in a debate on the bill for the abolition of slavery in the West Indies, suggested to HB a happy subject. His lordship is reported to have said that, "the object of the clause [then under discussion] was to make the black, from the moment that he arrived on the shores of this country, a free man in all respects: to make him eligible to sit in Parliament, either in the House of Lords, if it should be his Majesty's pleasure to give him a title to a seat, or in the other House if he should be elected." HB, with his usual facility for seizing an idea, took his lordship at his word, and forthwith elevated the emancipated "nigger" to the woolsack, clothing him in the wig and gown of Lord Chancellor Brougham, and giving him the features of the noble and learned lord himself: this sketch bears the title of A Select Specimen of the Black Style.

The House of Lords was a lively place whilst my Lord Chancellor Brougham was in office, and in the "scenes" in which he figured, and which drew down upon him the hatred and resentment of his contemporaries, he not unfrequently displayed a want of judgment which was nothing less than lamentable. We might give many instances of these regrettable scenes, but one shall suffice. On the 29th of September, 1831, the Lord Chancellor made the following answer to a question put by the Marquis of Londonderry:—"My lords," he said, "I beg to state to you once for all, that I will not sit here to be bothered with questions which emanate from the ridiculous ideas of certain absurd individuals who cannot or will not see anything, however clear, and seem lamentably incapacitated by nature from comprehending what is going on. Moreover, I beg to state to the noble marquis, that for the future I will answer no question of his,—will give him no information whatever." The amazed patrician said in reply, "As to the language which the noble and learned lord has ventured to apply to me here, I will only say that I shall wish those words to be repeated in another place." The Lord Chancellor rejoined that he had said nothing which he was not prepared to repeat elsewhere; and here the matter appears to have ended, for strange to say it was the Marquis of Londonderry and not the irascible Brougham who subsequently apologised, a circumstance which occasioned the artist's satirical and telling sketch of The Duel that did Not Take Place. These scenes do not appear to have been the result of any mere ebullition of temper; on the contrary, Brougham would seem to have delighted in these undignified exhibitions. "The Chancellor, who loves to unbosom himself to Sefton, because he knows the latter thinks him the finest fellow breathing, tells him that it is nuts to him to be attacked by noble lords in the Upper House, and that they had better leave him alone if they care for their own hides. Since he loves these assaults, last night," continues Mr. Greville, "he got his bellyful, for he was baited by a dozen at least, and he did not come out of the melee so chuckling and happy as usual."[119]

Parliament was dissolved on the 15th of August, 1834, and by that time his party, the king, and everybody else, had grown pretty well tired of Lord Chancellor Brougham. His head would seem to have been almost turned by his success; for he employed the recess which followed the prorogation in making a sort of royal progress through Scotland, parading the Great Seal on his way, to the great disgust of the king, who seriously thought he had taken leave of his senses, and protested against it being carried across the border. In the course of this strange progress he reached Inverness in the beginning of September, 1834, and was presented by the magistrates with the freedom of their city. In returning thanks for this honour, Lord Brougham said he was conscious "that it was not owing to any personal merits that he had received this mark of distinction at their hands. First of all he owed it to the circumstance that he had the honour of serving a monarch who lived in the hearts of his subjects. He had enjoyed the honour of serving that prince for nearly four years, and during that time he had experienced from his Majesty only one series of gracious condescension, confidence, and favour. To find that he lived in the hearts of his loyal subjects in the ancient and important capital of the Highlands, as it had afforded him (Lord Brougham) only pure and unmixed satisfaction, would, he was confident, be so received by his Majesty, when he (Lord Brougham) told him, as he would by that night's post (cheers), of the gratifying circumstances."[120] So far, however, from being gratified, the bluff sailor king was tremendously annoyed. These fulsome adulations, and the ridiculous manner in which his eccentric and embarrassing Chancellor tortured any personal attention to himself (Brougham) into a personal compliment to his royal master, thoroughly disgusted him. For some weeks previously The Times had attacked the eccentric Chancellor with a constancy and vigour of satire quite unexampled; the tide of ridicule was swelled by contributions from the London and provincial press; Brougham made some foolish speeches at Aberdeen and Dundee, which excited the laughter of his enemies and the alarm of his friends. "Those who are charitably disposed," remarks the unfriendly Greville, "express their humane conviction that he is mad, and it probably is not very remote from the truth."

Intellectually strong as he was, a Chancellor so eccentric as this was an incubus to be got rid of at the first convenient opportunity. In May, 1834, Mr. Stanley, Sir James Graham, the Earl of Ripon, and the Duke of Richmond, seceded from the ministry; but the Whig party, in spite of these resignations and the subsequent one of Lord Grey in July, continued in office under Lord Althorp till the following November, when the latter being called (by the death of his father) to the Upper House as Earl Spencer, the king seized the opportunity which he had so long desired of placing a less embarrassing and self-willed Chancellor on the woolsack. This circumstance prompted the clever sketch of the Fall of Icarus. Icarus in this instance is of course Brougham, who, flying in defiance of the injunctions of Daedalus too near the sun—that is to say, William the Fourth—the wax of his mechanical wings melted and he fell into the sea. That there may be no mistake as to the artist's meaning, the wings aforesaid are labelled with the titles of various publications which were loudest in sounding the praises of the King and of the "noble and learned lord," and to which he himself, with the questionable taste which distinguished him, was reputed (with justice) to be a contributor.

Whether my Lord Chancellor Brougham caught the infection from his client, Queen Caroline, we know not; but his conduct, whether in or out of office, appears to have been of the most undignified character. Ignoring the fact that his party were no longer in power, there is no doubt whatever that he wrote a letter to his successor, Lord Lyndhurst, actually suggesting his own nomination to Lyndhurst's vacant office of Chief Baron of the Exchequer, thereby (as he pointed out) saving to the public his own pension of ex-Chancellor. What his real motive may have been is of little consequence; it was certainly a most undignified proceeding, made the more undignified, if possible, because the proposal was not accepted. It suggested to the artist one of his pictorial puns, The Vaux and the Grapes, and to the Rev. Richard Harris Barham the following amusing verses, which we have extracted from a contemporary poetical skit:—

"Then in Great Stanhope Street The confusion was great In a certain superb habi-tation, Where seated at tea, O'er a dish of Bohea, Brougham was quaffing his 'usual potation' (For you know his indignant ne-gation, When accused once of jollifi-cation), Down went saucer and cup, Which Le Marchant picked up, Not to hear his lord mutter 'd—n-ation.'

But this greatest of men Soon caught hold of a pen, And, after slight delibe-ration, No longer he tosses His flexile proboscis About in so much exci-tation;[121] But scribbling with great ani-mation, He sends off a communi-cation:— 'Dearest Lyndhurst,' says he, 'Can't you find room for me When constructing your adminis-tration?

Though the Times says I'm mad, And each rascally Rad Abuses my tergiversation; Though those humbugs, the Whigs, Swear that my "thimble-rigs" Were the cause of all their vacill-ation; The whole story's a base fabri-cation To damage my great reputa-tion; So now to be brief, Only make me Lord Chief, And I'll serve without remuner-ation!'

When he found 'twas 'no go,' And that Lyndhurst and Co. Were deaf to all solici-tation, As 'twas useless with Lyndy To kick up a shindy, He resolved upon peregrin-ation. Not waiting for much prepa-ration, He bolted with precipi-tation; A sad loss, I ween, To Charles Knight's magazine, And to Stinkomalee edu-cation."

Lord Brougham, indeed, by his despotic, intractable conduct, had thoroughly shut himself out from all chance of office. Sir Robert Peel's Conservative ministry lasted till April, 1835, when a second Whig government came into power, under the premiership of Lord Melbourne, and from the re-constructed cabinet, Brougham—much to his own surprise, but to the surprise of no one else—was excluded.[122]


Irish disaffection was, unfortunately, as stale a subject in 1833 as in 1883. For what particular sins of her own England has been cursed with a neighbour so bloodthirsty, so unreasonable, and so troublesome as Ireland, it would be difficult to say. Although we had no Irish Americans—no cowardly "dynamitards"—in those days, Ireland was nevertheless in a state of chronic disaffection, and an "Irish Coercion Bill" was found just as necessary to restrain the excitement of Irish political malcontents in 1833 as in 1883. Irish history, in this respect at least, has a method of repeating itself which is singularly embarrassing, and the student of the history of Irish disaffection cannot fail to be interested in the statement with which Lord Grey introduced his measure fifty years ago. We learn from this statement that a state of things existed little short of actual rebellion. Bodies of men were collected and arrayed by signals, evidently directed by a system of organization in which many were combined, and such system was conducted in a manner which had hitherto set at defiance all the exertions of law and order. The disturbers of the peace prescribed the terms on which land was to be let, and any one who presumed to disobey their orders was subject to have his property destroyed or be put to death. The reign of terror was complete. The organization which supplied the place of the Land League of to-day dictated what persons should employ and be employed; and while they forbad labourers from working for obnoxious masters on the one hand, they prevented a master on the other from employing as labourers any but those who were obedient to their orders. They enforced their decrees by acts of cruelty and outrage; by spoliation, murder, attacks on houses in the dead of night; by dragging the inmates from their beds and so maltreating them that death often ensued, or by inflicting cruelties which were sometimes worse than death. The persons belonging to this organization assembled by signals, made concerted movements, watched the movements of the troops, and by information received so avoided them that the military were rendered practically useless.

The ordinary tribunals were powerless to arrest this iniquitous organization of murder and terror, which the Irish disaffectants and their advisers even in that day appear to have brought to a system of execrable perfection. Witnesses and jurors were terrified into silence. In one case the master of a female servant was commanded to dismiss her because her mother had given evidence against a person brought to trial for a capital crime, and similar cases were of almost daily occurrence. Five armed men went to the house of Patrick Lalor, a man of nearly seventy years of age, and shot him through the body. His crime had been disobedience to a mandate to give up some ground which he held contrary to the will of the Terrorists. The same system prevented a son of Lalor, and an eye-witness of his murder, from giving evidence against his murderers. On the trial of these miscreants at Kilkenny assizes, the jury not being able to agree was dismissed. It had been arranged in the jury-room that nothing should transpire as to the opinions of individual jurymen, and yet, in half an hour, the names of those in favour of an acquittal or of a conviction were printed—the former in black, and the latter, or as they were designated the "jurors who were for blood," in red ink. The result was that those whose names were printed in red were obliged to leave the country. At the Clonmel assizes the previous October (1832), when a person was to be tried for resisting the payment of tithe, only 76 jurors out of 265 who had been summoned made their appearance. A gentleman had been murdered in sight of his own gate in consequence of some dispute in connection with tithes. The answer of his son-in-law, summoned by the coroner to give evidence against the supposed murderer, was this: "That he would submit to any penalty the crown or the law would impose upon him, but he would not appear at the trial, because he knew that if he stood forward as a witness his life would inevitably be forfeited." The Irish Government received a notice from Kilkenny "that many gentlemen who had always" most conscientiously discharged their duties, "would not attend at the next assizes. They cared not what penalty was imposed upon them. They refused to attend, because they knew that death" awaited them if they dared to do their duty. "It is the boast of the prisoners," continued this document, "that they cannot under existing circumstances be found guilty." Under such a disgraceful state of things, outrage had become of course triumphant. The sickening catalogue of Irish cruelty and crime during the previous year comprised 172 homicides, 465 robberies, 568 burglaries, 455 acts of houghing of cattle, 2,095 illegal notices, 425 illegal meetings, 796 malicious injuries to property, 753 attacks on houses, 280 arsons, 3,156 serious assaults, making an aggregate of crimes of every description during the year, connected with the disturbed state of the country, exceeding 9,000 in number, and the number was evidently still on the increase.


The third reading of the Coercion Bill was carried in the Commons on the 29th of March, by 345 to 86, and the Act was to continue in force till the 1st of August, 1834. It led of course to many scenes in the House between English and Irish members, although the Irish members of that day, to do them simple justice, had not graduated in the aggravated system of obstruction they have since developed, and thereby earned for themselves the character of political nuisances. One of these scenes led to the sketch entitled Prisoners of War, which has reference to a serio-comic interlude, in which the principal performers were Lord Althorp and Mr. Shiel, member for Tipperary. On the 5th of February, 1834, Lord Althorp charged (without naming them) certain Irish members who had particularly distinguished themselves by violent opposition to the Bill in the House, with using very different language in reference to it in private conversation. Up then rose one Irish member after another, inquiring if he was the person alluded to. To Mr. O'Connell and Mr. Finn the answer was in the negative, while Mr. Shiel was given directly to understand that he was one of the members intended, his lordship declining at the same time to name his authority, but avowing his belief in the truth of the story, and his willingness to take upon himself the full responsibility. The result of course was a "scene." Mr. Shiel, after the manner of fire-eating Irishmen of that day, having hinted his intention to demand satisfaction elsewhere, Sir Francis Burdett arose and said that, unless the "honourable members pledged themselves to preserve the peace, he should instantly move that they be committed to the custody of the Serjeant-at-arms." As neither of the parties would give such assurance, the motion was put from the chair and carried. The Prisoners of War portrayed in the sketch are of course Mr. Shiel and Lord Althorp. After a brief absence from the House, each having given the required assurance was discharged from custody, and there the matter ended. The benefits of the Act were almost immediately made apparent. The association, which called itself, by the way, "The Irish Volunteers" (the Land League of 1833), was promptly suppressed by the Lord Lieutenant; and the list of offences during the month of March which preceded and the month of May which followed the passing of the Act most conclusively proved its efficiency, for, while in the former month the records of crime in eleven counties reached a sum total of 472, they had declined in the latter month to 162.[123]


Irish agitators of the nineteenth century are all more or less "tarred with the same brush," but the conditions under which an Irish agitator of 1883-4 must be content to figure in that character are, it must be remembered, widely different from those which influenced the agitators of 1833. The Irish "Home Rulers" have sown the wind and have reaped the whirlwind which carries them along in its progress, and we doubt whether if they wished to stop the hideous Frankenstein they have created, it would allow them to do so. The Home Rulers, however, are not in any way to be pitied. Not content with Land League terrorism, they sought to force their measures upon John Bull himself by an unheard-of system of parliamentary obstruction, which has inevitably recoiled upon themselves. O'Connell was far too sharp-sighted—far too intelligent and clever a man to make so grave a mistake as this. By the sheer force of his genius he exercised for many years of his life a most powerful influence on English politics. He figures in one of John Doyle's sketches in the character ascribed to him probably by most of his contemporaries. In the sketch referred to, the Governor of Barataria is represented by the typical Irish peasant; O'Connell appears in the character of the Doctor; and Lord John Russell as the attendant and amused servitor. Pat's eagerness to enjoy the good things he has been led to expect, and his mortification at their being removed out of reach and out of sight are ridiculously rendered.

We must not be misunderstood; although O'Connell had far greater personal influence over the Irish than his successors, he was for all that in political matters eminently unscrupulous.[124] At the general election of 1835, the avowed principles on which he stood forth as a candidate were: repeal of the union,—universal suffrage, vote by ballot,—triennial parliaments,—and the abolition of tithes. "I am," he said, "decidedly for the vote by ballot. Whoever votes by ballot votes as he pleases, and no one need know how he votes." Yet, in spite of these avowed principles, he controlled the election of Irish candidates after the following fashion:—The Knight of Kerry started as a candidate for his native county, but dared to avow his intention to take an independent course. He had spent all his life in resisting Orangemen, and yet O'Connell said, "Every one who dares to vote for the Orange knight of Kerry shall have a death's head and cross-bones painted on his door." The voters at the Irish elections were collected in the chapels by the priests, and led forth to the poll under threats of being refused all the rites and visited with all the punishments of their Church. Under these influences, the Knight of Kerry, supported by nearly all the property, intelligence, and respectability of the county, was defeated. Of a candidate for New Ross who had refused to enlist under his banner, O'Connell said, "Whoever shall support him his shop shall be deserted, no man shall pass his threshold; put up his name as a traitor to Ireland; let no man speak to him; let the children laugh him to scorn." His example was followed of course by his lieutenants. It says something for Irish independence that these unscrupulous "dodges" were not always successful; and O'Connell himself, and his colleague, Mr. Ruthven, secured their own seats by comparatively small majorities. At the previous election O'Connell had obtained a majority of 1,549, and Mr. Ruthven of 1,490 above the highest Conservative candidate: at the election in 1835, O'Connell's majority had fallen to 217, and Mr. Ruthven's to 169. The "Irish agitator" was manifestly no favourite with HB, who depicted him as the comet of 1835. Comets being supposed by the vulgar to portend disaster, it is represented as leaving Ireland in a flame, and passing over St. George's Channel to exercise a malign influence on peaceful England. The head of course is that of O'Connell, while the tail is studded with the countenances of the Irish members who made up his "following." In a previous sketch he had figured as the Wolf to Lord John Russell's "Little Red Riding Hood," in allusion to a statement made by the opposition journals that the Government had made a league with the restless agitator with the view of securing his support in the House of Commons. We have heard something very like this lately, in relation to what is now known as the "Kilmainham Treaty."


The rapidity with which John Doyle caught an inspiration from a few chance words in a speech, may be aptly illustrated by the manner in which he served Sir Robert Peel. On the occasion of his being installed Lord Rector of Glasgow University, in November, 1836, the distinguished statesman made a speech to his patrons, in which he meant to tell them that, admiring Scotland and Scottish scenery, he thought the best mode of seeing both was on horseback instead of travelling in a public or private conveyance. He expressed the idea, however, in the following round-about fashion:—"I wished," he said, "to see something of Scotland which I could not have seen from the windows of a luxurious carriage; I wished to see other habits and manners of life than those which the magnificent hospitable castles of the nobility presented. Yes," he continued, "in Glasgow I hired an humble but faithful steed; I travelled partly on horseback and partly on foot through almost every county that lies southern of Inverness; I have read the map of Scotland upon the great scale of nature, from the summits of Ben Nevis and Ben Lomond; I have visited that island whence savage and roaming bands derived the benefits of knowledge and the blessings of religion. Yes, amid the ruins of Iona I have abjured the rigid philosophy which would conduct us indifferent and unmoved over any ground that has been dignified by wisdom, by bravery, and by virtue. I have stood on the shores of Staffa,—I have seen the temple not built with hands,—I have seen the mighty swell of the ocean,—the waves of the great Atlantic beating in its inmost recesses, and swelling notes of praise nobler than ever pealed from human organs." Well, other tourists besides the statesman have stood on the summit of Ben Nevis and Ben Lomond,—have visited Staffa and Iona,—and yet, the rigid philosophy which Sir Robert credited himself for abjuring, has unconsciously conducted them comparatively "indifferent and unmoved" over much ground that may have been "dignified by wisdom, by bravery," and even "by virtue." The stilted remarks of Sir Robert will serve to remind some of us of the very original sentiments we find recorded in "visitors' books" of sundry home and continentals hotels much affected by members of the gushing order of travellers. Some such idea seems to have struck the artist; for in his next satire Sir Robert very deservedly figured as Dr. Syntax setting out on his Humble but Faithful Steed in Search of the Picturesque.

As a rule the titles of these sketches, which reach the amazing number of nine hundred and seventeen, afford no clue whatever to their subject matter. Here are the titles of a few, taken at random from the general bulk:—An Affair of Honour; A Group of Sporting Characters at Epsom; A Nice Distinction, or a Hume-iliating Rejoinder to a Warlike Ap-Peel; A Political Ruse; Swearing the Horatii; Retaliation; Goody Two Shoes turned Barber; State Cricket Match; Taking an Airing in Hyde Park;—and so on. A description, however short, of the events to which these "Political Sketches" refer, would occupy probably a couple of volumes; and, following the course which we have hitherto adopted, we have preferred to make selection of a few which seemed to us—either from the persons satirized or the scenes in which they figure—likely to interest the general reader. Thackeray said of them at the time they were appearing, "You never hear any laughing at HB, his pictures are a great deal too genteel for that,—polite points of wit which strike one as exceedingly clever and pretty, and cause one to smile in a quiet, gentlemanlike kind of way." Forty-two years have elapsed since this was written;—the sketches fail now almost to provoke the "gentlemanlike kind" of smile mentioned by the humourist, for the events and the persons which caused it and to which they relate have alike passed away out of sight and out of memory.


The number which they attained is due no doubt in a large measure to the facility with which they were produced. They were all drawn on stone, and exhibit the faults so often to be found in the productions of artists who confine themselves to this material, which, owing to the comparative facility of the process, has a tendency to induce a slovenliness in execution unusual with artists accustomed to the careful discipline under which a successful etching on steel or copper can alone be produced. A writer in Blackwood[125] says with much truth that HB "would have been a greater artist had he worked on the same material and with the same tools as Gillray and Cruikshank, but we should probably not have possessed so complete a gallery of portraits, comprising all the men of note who took part in political affairs from before the passing of the Catholic Relief Bill until after the repeal of the Corn Laws, a period more eventful than any of a similar length since the Revolution of 1688." John Doyle, too, had no great powers of sarcasm, and he was timid in design, contenting himself with as few figures as were possible for the purposes of his drawings. Robert William Buss, himself a comic artist of ability, in his brief notice of him charges him with a certain feebleness in the attitude of the persons who figure in his sketches, and gives us to understand that to balance a figure properly requires a knowledge and practice in drawing to which HB was a stranger; and further, that by reason of the absence of such knowledge and practice, he falls far behind Hogarth, Gillray, Bunbury, Rowlandson, or the Cruikshanks. With these artists indeed, as we have endeavoured to show, John Doyle has nothing in common, and he evidently designed that no comparison should ever be instituted between any one of them and himself. His chief merits are to be found in the facility with which he grasped an idea; the harmlessness and playfulness of his satire, which wrought a complete revolution in the style and manner of caricaturists; and above all in the excellence of his likenesses. The best and most graceful of the series was produced just after the wedding of her Majesty, and is a transcript (as it were) of Stothard's beautiful design of The Procession of the Flitch of Bacon, the leading personages being the young Queen and the late Prince Consort, whose portraits are admirably executed. Towards the close of the series they show signs of failing power, not unnatural in an artist who during a course of twenty years had produced upwards of a thousand drawings. I have seen it somewhere stated that this deterioration dates from the period when the identity of HB was discovered; but inasmuch as this secret had been practically revealed long before the decadence commences, there is no just ground for any such assumption.

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