ately 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

[blocks in formation]

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 ard 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 repre sentation 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 Gnest 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 suffi. cient 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 ycars.

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, * “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 H3 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 H3. 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 exaggera

[ocr errors]

tion, 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." * 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

Westminster Review, June, 1840.

« 前へ次へ »