The Volcano of Opposition: A burlesque of a famous quarrel in the House of Commons between Burke and Fox in May, 1791. Burke pours out a torrent of fiery scorn, his clenched fist extended towards Fox (left) who stands weeping, consoled by Sheridan.
Frederick George Byron was a nephew of the 5th Baron Byron: William, the “Wicked Lord”. Gorge Gordon Byron — our hero — who was a grand-nephew of the same murderous old coot, inherited the title at the age of 10 and became 6th Baron when both William’s son (William) and his grandson (also William) pre-deceased him. Serve him right, say some. Frederick George, had died, too, in 1792 aged only 28!
F.G. was an amateur caricaturist and painter in an age when all “gentlemen” of science or in the arts were amateurs (except those such as Southey and Wordsworth who took the Crown’s money). He had a style rather like that of Thomas Rowlandson, if not quite the latter’s facility with drawing. He did not sign many of his works and published most for a single London printer. There are a several dozen of his prints collected in libraries and museums (here’s the British Museum collection).
Most of Fred’s sketches poke rather gentle fun at manners and foibles. His political cartoons lampooned Edmund Burke (“Don Dismal” in the character of a Don Quixote) and his devotion to Marie Antoinette and, especially, the Pitt government’s claims that England was a paradise of order and liberty compared to France. But his satires on French manners and the Revolution are mostly ironic rather than bitter: he had died before the execution of Louis XVI and the bloody excesses of the Terror of 1793–4 made a mockery of all that the early Jacobins stood for. He also produced a short series of comical prints on Englishmen journeying through France in the 1790s.
Here are a few of his images. Some of those that remain (one example here) were designed for a lengthy ‘fold-out’ fan of paper either folded or bound in a pamphlet.
The “Prince’s Bow” refers to an incident at the 1787 opening of the Parliamentary trial of Warren Hastings, former Governor of India, which lasted 7 years and resulted in his acquittal. The Prince of Wales, later Prince Regent and later still George IV, made an appearance, bowing before the throne. It was such an elaborate gesture that every fop imitated it… or tried to. F.G.‘s cartoon shows 20 figures trying, mostly without success.
As for the “cat” cartoons… Never imagine that stuff you see on Twitter or Instagram is in any degree ‘original’. It’s all been done before.