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(Published July 1th, 1814, by S. W. Fores, Piccadilly.
RUSSIAN CONDESCENSION, OR THE BLESSINGS OF UNIVERSAL PEACE.
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mounted on a tiny carriage, forms a dummy cannon. His back leans against a tree, to which is nailed the “ Imperial Crow,” while from the branches depends a ragged pair of breeches and stockings. It was a sorry libel on the unfortunate emperor, whose courage was undoubted, and who, at this time, instead of being the scarecrow the artist has represented him, had grown extremely corpulent. Snufting out Boney follows up the same subject, and represents a cossack snufting out Napoleon, who figures as a candle; another caricature on the great subject of the year bears the title of Broken Ginger. bread (Napoleon selling images).
On the 8th of June, 1814, the Emperor of Russia, with his sister the Duchess Oldenburg, the King of Prussia, and his two sons, with Prince Metternich, Marshal Blucher, General Barclay de Tolly, the Hetman Platoff, and other persons of distinction, arrived in London. The strangers were splendidly entertained by the mer. chants and bankers of London at Merchant Taylors' Hall, and by the Corporation of London at Guildhall. On the 20th there was a grand review of regulars and metropolitan volunteers in Hyde Park ; the ceremony of announcing to the inhabitants of the metropolis the conclusion of the definitive treaty of peace with France took place with all its ancient and accustomed solemnities. On the 25th of July a grand naval review was held at Portsmouth, and on the 27th the illustrious visitors embarked at Dover for the Continent. The handsome Russian emperor and his handsome sister acquired great popularity by the condescension and affability they displayed during their short visit. This is commemorated by George Cruikshank in a satire published by Fores on the uth of July, entitled, Russian Condescension, or the Blessings of Peace, in which a coarse woman is represented as kissing the emperor, who is habited in English military uniform. “There, Sal,” says she to her companion, “ I can boast of what none of the — s at Billingsgate can, having kissed the king's emperor of all the Russian bears, and he is the sweetest, modestest, mildest gentleman I ever kissed in all my life." On the other side a huge country gawky shakes hands with the duchess, whose vast bonnet is a study. “Dang it,” he says, " when I goes back and tells the folks in our village of this, law! how they will envy I!” In the distance we see another female in pursuit of the frightened Hetman Platoff.
VISIT OF THE
from taking up a weapon which had been wielded by a dead artilleryman, which gave him trouble at various periods of his life. It may be that this suggested the subject.
The reader will remember, that from the state ceremonies and festivities which took place on this memorable occasion the miserable Caroline had been excluded, nor did she of course receive recognition or visits from any of her husband's illustrious visitors. The state of social isolation to which she was thus consigned is referred to by George Cruikshank in a very roughly executed caricature entitled, The British Spread Eagle, “Presented to the northern monarchs as a model for their national banner in consequence of the general peace.” The Regent, holding in his hand a bottle of port wine, turns away from his neglected wife : “I'll go,” he says, “to my bottle, my marchioness [of Conyngham], my countess” [of Jersey], who may be seen close at hand in an adjoining thicket; " and I,” answers Caroline, "to my child, my only comfort.” The “only comfort” is seen coming to her mother's assistance in the distance, uttering the trite quotation, “The child that feels not for a mother's woes, can ne'er be called a Briton.”
The Impostor, or Obstetric Dispute, a still more roughly executed satire (published by Tegs in September, 1814), refers to the wretched impostor Southcott. Doctors called in to report on her condition“ differed” according to their proverbial custom. Three of these learned pundits may be seen in consultation in the right-hand corner. A blatant and irascible cobbler, standing on a stool, loudly proclaims the woman to be “a cheat !” “a faggot !” “a bag of deceit !” “a blasphemous old hag!” The indignant Joanna, far advanced in her dropsical condition, rushes at him, brardishing a broom in one hand and her book of prophecies in the other, to the delight of certain members of the “great unwashed.” The buildings at the back appropriately include “New Bethlehem," and the house which the reader may remember was engaged for the purposes
1815. THE CORN LAWS.
of her miraculous accouchement. A rougher and coarser piece of workmanship, if possible, will be found in Gambols on the River
Thames, February, 1814 (published also by Tegg), which commemorates the memorable frost of that year.
On the 17th of February, 1815, Mr. Frederick Robinson, vicepresident of the board of trade, moved for the House of Commons to resolve itself into a committee of the whole house, for the purpose of considering the state of the corn laws. This having been done, he proceeded to lay before the House certain resolutions, three of which related to the free importation of grain to be warehoused and afterwards exported, or to be taken for home consumption when importation for that purpose was allowable. The fourth and most important stated the average price of British corn at which free importation was to be allowed, and below which it was to be prohibited, and this for wheat was fixed at eighty shillings per quarter. An exception was made in favour of grain produced in the British colonies, which might be imported when British grown wheat was at sixty-seven shillings. All the resolutions were read and agreed to, with the exception of the fourth, and this in the end also passed in the face of every amendment.
On the ist of March, Mr. Robinson brought in his bill “to amend the laws now in force for regulating the importation of corn.” By this time very numerous petitions against the bill were coming in from the commercial and manufacturing districts; riotous proceedings also took place on the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th of March, in the course of which the mob cut to pieces many valuable pictures belonging to Mr. Robinson, destroyed and pitched his furniture into the street, and did a variety of mischief to the property of other well-known supporters of the measure. The riots (which were of a most formidable character) were only quelled by the number and determined attitude of the military and constables. In spite, however, of the unmistakable unpopularity of the measure, and of the strenuous opposition to it both in and out of Parliament, the bill passed the House on the roth of March, and the Upper House on the 20th.
The consequences of this measure were not such as were expected either by its promoters or opposers. Former importations, or more probably the effect of two abundant harvests, combined with the greatly extended cultivation of grain, produced a gradual and steady reduction in prices; so that instead of approaching the limits at which alone importation was allowable by the Act, it sunk to a level below that of several years past. The farmers, who were labouring under exorbitant rents in addition to other increased expenses, were general sufferers, and the landlords found it necessary in many. instances to make great abatements in their dues. In the result many leases were voided and farms left without tenants.
To this most unpopular measure a satire, published by Fores on the 3rd of March, 1815, has reference. It is entitled, The Blessings of Peace, or the Curse of the Corn Bill, a very rough affair, etched by George (as it appears to me) from the design of an amateur whose hand may be recognised in more than one of his caricatures. A foreign vessel is approaching our shores laden with best wheat at 50s. a quarter. A figure with a star on his breast, emblematical of course of the aristocratic influence which was supposed to have dictated the unpopular corn law, forbids the sailors to land it: “We won't have it,” he says, “at any price. We are determined to keep up our own to Sos., and if the poor can't buy at that price, why, they must starve. We love money too well to lower our rents again, tho' the income tax is taken off.” His sentiments are re-echoed by companions belonging to the same class as himself. A farmer and his starving family, however, come forward. “No, no, masters," he remonstrates; “I'll not starve, but quit my native country, where the poor are crushed by those they labour to support, and retire to one more hospitable, and where threats of the rich do not interpose to defeat the providence of God!” Behind the starving family is a warehouse absolutely bursting with sacks of grain at Sos. " By gar!” says the foreign captain, "if they won't have [the wheat] at all, we must throw it overboard,” which they accordingly are depicted as doing. The subject is followed up by a still more slovenly affair by the artist himself, bearing the title of The Scale of Justice Reversed,