ページの画像
PDF
ePub
[merged small][ocr errors]

drinking the Bath waters in the midst of a circle of deeply interested and curious gazers. This poor old woman, who looks very like an old nurse, is no less a person than Charlotte of MecklenburgStrelitz, Queen of George the Third, who, in failing health and rapidly drawing towards the close of her earthly pilgrimage, had been recommended by her physicians to try the effect of the Bath waters. The excitement which this event occasioned in the then gay, but now decayed western city, is thus referred to by Mrs. Piozzi in two of her contemporary letters to Sir James Fellowes : “The queen has driven us all distracted; such a bustle Bath never witnessed before. She drinks at the Pump Room, purposes going to say her prayers at the Abbey Church, and a box is making up for her at the theatre." And again : "Of the clusters in the Pump Room who swarm round Queen Charlotte, as if she were actually the queen bee, courtiers must give you an account.” At the back of Her Majesty's chair stands the portly figure of the Duke of Clarence, who recommends the old lady to qualify the water (which is evidently very distasteful to her) with a little brandy. “George and 1,' he adds, “always recommend brandy.” A fat, well favoured woman in a flower-pot bonnet, with a gin bottle in her hand, on the other hand recommends the old queen to qualify the Bath water with a dash of “Old Tom," advice which is seconded by the old woman next her. Behind this last stands the physician, watch in hand, watching, and moreover predicting in very plain terms, the expected action of the medicated water. The folks behind make their observations on the old lady's appearance. “Well, I declare,” says one, “I see nothing extraordinary to look at.” “Why, she doant look a bit better than oul granny,” remarks a country joskin. “Who said she did, eh, dame?” replies her companion. Poor old Queen Charlotte was never a beauty, and those who remember her exaggerated likenesses in the satires of Gillray, will not fail to recognise her in the present satire. One of her well-known habits is referred to by the snuff-box which lies at her feet.

The poor old lady was beyond the help of the Bath waters or of any earthly assistance. We find Mrs. Piozzi writing a few months later on : “Nothing kills the queen, however. It is really a great misfortune to be kept panting for breath so, and screaming with pain by medical skill: were she a subject, I suppose they would have released her long ago; but diseases and distresses of the human frame must lead to death at length,” which was the case with the poor old queen, who died nine months after the date of the satire (in November, 1818).

The announcement of the marriages of four of her children this year, viz. : of the Princess Elizabeth to Frederick, Landgrave of Hesse Homburg ; of Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent, to Victoria, daughter of the Duke of Saxe-Coburg (and mother of Queen Victoria), on the 29th of May ; of Adolphus Frederick, Duke of Cambridge, to Augusta, daughter of the Landgrave of Hesse, on the ist of May; and of William Henry, Duke of Clarence (afterwards William the Fourth), to Adelaide, daughter of the Duke of Saxe-Meiningen, on the 11th of July, gave rise to a coarse though admirably executed caricature entitled, The Homburg Waltz, with Characteristic Sketches of Family Dancing, in which all these royal personages, with the Regent at their head, are seen prominently figuring amongst the dancers.

A forgotten but ingenious instrument, the kaleidoscope, was invented by Sir David Brewster in 1818. The leading principles of the toy appear to have been accidentally discovered in the course of a series of experiments on the polarization of light by successive rejections between plates of glass. The invention of this now despised toy made a tremendous sensation at the time, and the inventor was induced to take out a patent for its protection ; but he had, it appears, divulged the secret of its construction before he had secured the invention to himself, and the consequence was that, although “it made a hundred shopmen rich,” it brought the inventor himself but little substantial benefit. This is explained by the fact that it was so simple in construction, that even when made without scientific accuracy, it served to delight as well as to amuse. So largely was it pirated, that it was calculated that no fewer than two hundred thousand were sold in three months in London and Paris

INVENTION

OF THE KALEIDOSCOPE.

THE KALEIDOSCOPE.

alone. Judging by a caricature of Williams's, published by Fores in June, 1818, and its doggerel explanation, the toys would appear even at this time to have been made and sold by every street boy. The satire is called, Caleidoscopes, or Paying for Peeping. In it, we see the pertinacious vendors pushing the sale of their wares upon the passengers in the streets-many of them women. A bishop resolves to buy one because the coloured glass reminds him of a painted window in his cathedral, another person has paid dearly for “ peeping,” and discovers that while gratifying his curiosity, his “pocket-book has slipped off with two hundred pounds in it.” Williams was a satirist of the old school, and the allusions made by some of the vendors render this otherwise interesting satire wantonly coarse and indelicate. Attached to this rare and curious production is the follow ing doggerel :

'Tis the favourite plaything of school-boy and sage,

Of the baby in arms and the baby of age;
Of the grandam whose sight is at best problematical,
And of the soph who explains it by rule mathematical.
Such indeed is the rage for them, chapel or church in,
You see them about you, and cach little urchin
Finding a sixpence, with transport beside his hope,
Runs to the tin-man and makes a caleidoscope !”

1819. The Hobby.

Another invention made its appearance in 1819: this was the Telocipede, or as it was then called “the hobby," the grandfather of the bicycle and tricycle of our day. A tall gawky perched on the summit of a lofty bicycle, with an enormous wheel gyrating between a couple of spindle shanks capped with enormous crab-shells, is a sufficiently familiar and ridiculous object in our times; but the appearance presented by the people of 1819, who adopted the spider looking thing called a “hobby,” was so intensely comical that it gave rise to a perfect food of caricatures. The best of these we have personally met with is one entitled, The Spirit Moving the Quakers upon Worldly Vanities, a skit upon the Society of Friends (published by J. T. Sidebotham). The scene is laid in front of a “ Society of Friends Meeting House,” and numerous “Friends” of

DEPRESSION IN

TRADE.

both sexes are busily engaged in exercising their hobbies. In the soreground, a broad-brimmed young “Friend" gives ardent and amorous chase to a lovely Quakeress, who, apparently disinclined to encourage his advances, urges her steed to its utmost speed, and makes frantic endeavours to get out of his way.

The internal condition of the country this year (1819) gave cause for much anxiety. Pecuniary distress, owing to the depression in trade, was almost universal. This state of things, as might have been expected, was taken advantage of by the popular agitators for their own purposes; and the people, under their encouragement, as in the two previous years, continued to give audible expression to their dissatisfaction at meetings, and through the medium of publications more or less of a seditious character. The miserable outlook gave rise (among others) to a pair of caricatures, published by Fores on the 9th of January, John Bull in Clover, and (by way of contrast), John Bull Done Over. In the first, fat John is enjoying himself with his pipe and his glass; the sleek condition of his dog shows that it shares in the comforts of its master's prosperity. John, in fact, has what our Transatlantic cousins call “a good time ;” scattered over the floor lie invoices of goods despatched by him to customers in Spain, in Russia, in America. Beneath a portrait of “Good Queen Bess,” John bas pinned several of his favourite ballads : “The Land we live in,” “Oh, the Roast Beef of Old England !” “May we all live the days of our life.” In John Bull Done Over, a very different picture is presented to our notice. The whole of John's fat is gone; he sits, a lean, starving, tattered, shoeless object in a bottomless chair, the embodiment of human misery. In place of his invoices lie the Gazette, which announces his bankruptcy, and a number of tradesmen's bills; on the back of his chair is coiled a rope, and on the table before him a razor lies on a treatise on suicide, -John in fact is debating by what mode he shall put an end to his existence. An onion and some water in a broken jug are the only articles of sustenance he has to depend on. The tax gatherer, who has made a number of fruitless calls, looks through the broken panes to ascertain if John is really “at home.” On the wall, in place of the

BIRTH OF THE PRINCESS VICTORIA.

picture of “Good Queen Bess," hangs a portrait of John Bellingham, the assassin of Spencer Perceval; and in lieu of his once joyous ballads, such doleful ditties as “Oh, dear, what can the matter be !" “There's nae luck about the house," and so on. The poor dog, grown like his master a lean and pitiable object, vainly appeals to him for food.

“ England's hope"*—the darling of the nation—the amiable and interesting Princess Charlotte, whose loss is still lamented after the lapse of more than half a century, died in childbirth on the 6th of November, 1817; but on the 24th of May, 1819, was born, at Kensington Palace, another amiable and august princess, whose lise has been most happily spared to us—her present Majesty Queen Victoria. To show that the influence of the last century caricaturists had not yet left us, this auspicious event immediately gave rise to a coarse caricature,t published by Fores, and labelled, A Scene in the New Farce called the Rivals, or a Visit to the Heir Presumptive, in which the scurrilous satirist depicts the supposed mortification and jealousy of other members of the royal family. Her Majesty's father, the Duke of Kent, died nine months afterwards, on the 23rd of January, 1820.

• See the caricatures of George Cruiksbank, 1817.

Apparently by Williams.

« 前へ次へ »