Bibliography

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If you have any suggestions for texts we should include, or would like us to add your book or article, please email
Dustin Frazier Wood at Dustin.FrazierWood@roehampton.ac.uk.

Journal of Illustration Studies (Cardiff, 2007)

Altick, Richard D. The Shows of London. Harvard UP, 1978.

Altick, Richard D. Painting from Books: Art and Literature in Britain 1760-1900. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1985.

Bartram, Alan. Five Hundred Years of Book Design. New Haven: Yale UP, 2001.

Benton, Michael. Studies in the spectator role: Literature, painting and pedagogy London and New York: Routledge, 2000.

Bettley, James, ed. The Art of the Book: From Medieval Manuscript to Graphic Novel. London: V and A Publications, 2001.

Bland, David. The Illustration of Books. Faber and Faber, 1951.

Bland, David. A History of Book Illustration: The Illuminated Manuscript and the Printed Book. Second Edition. Faber and Faber, 1969.

Blewett, David. The Illustration of Robinson Crusoe, 1719-1920. Gerrards Cross :Colin Smythe, 1995.

Bonnell, Thomas Frank. The Most Disreputable Trade: publishing the classics of English poetry 1765-1810. OUP: 2008.

Brenni, Vito Joseph. Book Illustration and Decoration: A Guide to Research. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1985.

Breton, Rob. “Portraits of the Poor in Early Nineteenth-Century Radical Journalism,” Journal of Victorian Culture 21:2 (2016), 168-83.

Brewer, John. The Pleasures of the Imagination: English Culture in the Eighteenth Century. 1997; Routledge, 2013. Chapter 11, ‘Borrowing, Copying and Collecting’.

Briggs, Jo. Novelty Fair: British visual culture between Chartism and the Great Exhibition. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2016.

Brown, John Buchanan. Early Victorian Illustrated Books: Britain, France and Germany 1820-1860. British Library and Oak Knoll Press, 2005.

Bryan, Michael. Dictionary of Painters and Engravers: Biographical and Critical. New ed., rev. and enl., ed. Robert Edmund Graves. London: G. Bell, 1886-1889.

Bryson, Norman et al, eds. Visual Theory: Painting and Interpretation. CUP, 1991.

Burwick, Frederick. “James Gillray and the Aporia of Visual Hermeneutics,” Romantic Explorations. Ed.Michael Meyer. Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2011. Pp. 85-103.

Burwick, Frederick.“The Hermeneutics of Lichtenberg’s Interpretation of Hogarth,” The Lessing Yearbook 19 (1987): 167‑191.

Burwick, Frederick. “Lessing’s Laokoon and the rise of Visual Hermeneutics,” Poetics Today XX, no. 2 (Summer 1999): 219-272.

Cale, Luisa. Fuseli’s Milton Gallery: ‘Turning readers into spectators’ . Clarendon Press, 2006.

Cubitt, Sean Digital Aesthetics. Sage 1998 [http://www.ucl.ac.uk/slade/digita/index.html]

Daly, Peter M. et al eds. Word and Visual Imagination. Germany, 1988.

Davidson, Peter. The Book Encompassed. 1992.

Dias, Rosemarie. ‘ “A World of Pictures”: Pall Mall and the Topography of Display, 1780-1799’ in Miles Ogborn and Charles Withers, Georgian Geographies: Space, Place and Landscape in the Eighteenth Century. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004.

Eaves, Morris. ‘The sister arts in British Romanticism’. The Cambridge Companion to British Romanticism. Second Edition Ed. Stuart Curran. CUP, 2010, 229-61.

Eisenstein, Elizabeth L. The Printing Press as an Agent of Change. CUP, 1980.

Essick, Robert N. “Visual/Verbal Relationships in Book Illustration.” In British Art 1740-1820: Essays in Honor of Robert R. Wark. Ed Guilland Sutherland. San Marino, CA: Huntington Library, 1992.

Frederick Faxon, Literary Annual and Gift Books: A Bibliography.1973.

Ferris, Ina, and Paul Keen, eds. Bookish Histories: Books, Literature, and Commercial Modernity, 1700-1900. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan 2009.

Finkelstein, David Book History Reader. Routledge, 2002.

Ford, Brian J. Images of Science: A History of Scientific Illustration. London: British Library, 1992; rpt. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Fried, Michael. Absorption and Theatricality: Painting and the Beholder in the Age of Diderot. California UP, 1980.

Garside, Peter. ‘Illustrating the Waverley Novels: Scott, Scotland, and the London Print Trade, 1819-1836’, The Library, 11 (2010), 168-96.

Garside, Peter. ‘Print Illustrations and the Cultural Materialism of Scott’s Waverley Novels’, in British Literature and Print Culture, ed. Sandro Jung (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2013), pp. 125-57.

Gerard, William Blake. Lawrence Sterne and the Visual Imagination. Ashgate, 2006.

Golden, Catherine J. Book Illustrated: Text, Image, and Culture 1770-1930. New Castle: Oak Knoll Press, 2000.

Goldman, Paul. ‘Defining Illustration Studies: Towards a New Academic Discipline’, Chapter 1 of Paul Goldman and Simon Cooke, eds, Reading Victorian Illustration, 1855-1875: Spoils of the Lumber Room. Ashgate 2012.

Gollapudi, Aparna. ‘Selling Celebrity: Actors’ Portraits in Bell’s Shakespeare and Bell’s British Theatre’. Eighteenth Century Life, Volume 36, Number 1, Winter 2012.

Gordon, Catherine M. British Painting of Subjects from the English Novel New York: Garland, 1988.

Hammelmann, Hanns. Book Illustrators in Eighteenth-Century England. Edited and completed by T.S.R. Boase. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1975.

Harris, Katherine D. “Fantasies of Containment: Archiving Moments in Cyber- and Real-Life.” Metaphors of Cyberspace. Ed. Caroline Maun.

Harthan, John. The History of the Illustrated Book: The Western Tradition. London: Thames and Hudson, 1981.

Haywood, Ian, Romanticism and Caricature (CUP, 2013)

[Hazlitt], Sketches of the Principal Picture Galleries in England. 1824.

Heffernen, James A. W. ed., Space, Time, Image, Sign: Essays on Literature and the Visual Arts. Peter Lang, 1987.

Hill, Richard. ‘The Illustration of the Waverley Novels: Scott and Popular Illustrated Fiction’, Scottish Literary Review, 1.1 (2009), 69-88.

Hill, Richard. Picturing Scotland through the Waverley Novels: Walter Scott and the Origins of the Victorian Illustrated Novel. Farnham: Ashgate, 2010.

Hillis Miller, J. Illustration. Reaktion Books, 1992.

Hodnett, Edward. Image and Text: Studies in the Illustration of English Literature. Scolar Press, 1982.

Hodnett, Edward. Five Centuries of English Book Illustration. Scolar Press, 1988.

Hofer, Philip. Eighteenth Century Book Illustration. Los Angeles: Williams Andrews Clark Memorial Library, University of California, 1956.

Höltgen, Karl Josef, Peter M. Daly and Wolfgang Lottes, eds. Word and Visual Imagination: Studies in the Interaction of English Literature and the Visual Arts. Erlangen-Nürnberg, 1988.

Hunnisett, Basil. Steel Engraved Book Illustration in England. Scolar Press, 1980.

Ionescu, Christina and Renata Schellenberg eds. Word and Image in the Long Eighteenth Century: An Interdisciplinary Dialogue. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008.

James, Philip. English bookillustration 1800-1900. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin, 1947.

John, Adrian. The Nature of the Book: Print and Knowledge in the Making. Chicago UP, 1998.

Jung, Sandro. ‘Illustrated Pocket Diaries and the Commodification of Culture’, Eighteenth-Century Life, 37.3 (2013): 53-84.

Jung, Sandro. ‘Packaging, Design and Colour: From Fine-Printed to Small-Format Editions of Thomson’s The Seasons, 1793-1802’ in Sandro Jung, ed, British Literature and Print Culture, The English Association Essays and Studies 66 (D. S. Brewer, 2013), 97-124.

Jung, Sandro. ‘Print Culture, High-Cultural Consumption, and Thomson’s The Seasons, 1780-1797′, Eighteenth-Century Studies, 44 (2011): 495-514.

Jung, Sandro. ‘Thomas Stothard’s Illustrations for The Royal Engagement Pocket Atlas, 1779-1826′, The Library, 12.1 (2011): 3-22.

Jung, Sandro. ‘Visual Interpretations, Print, and Illustrations of Thomson’s The Seasons, 1730–1797’. Eighteenth Century Life 34. 2 (Spring 2010), 23-64.

Katz, Bill, ed. A History of Book Illustration: 29 Points of View. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow, 1994.

Keymer, Thomas and Peter Sabor. Pamela in the Marketplace: Literary Controversy and Print Culture in Eighteenth-Century Britain and Ireland (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ., 2006). See especially chapter 5, “Illustrations and the Visual Culture of the Novel”.

Kress, Gunter, amd Theo van Leeuwen. Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design. Routledge, 1996.

Kroeber, Karl and William Walling. Images of Romanticism. New Haven: Yale UP, 1978.

Landseer, John. Lectures on the Art of Engraving. 1807.

Levarie, Norma. The Art and History of Books. New Castle: Oak Knoll Press, 1995.

Lewine, J. Bibliography of Eighteenth-Century Art and Illustrated Books: Being a Guide to Collections of Illustrated Works in English and French of the Period. London: Sampson Low, Marston and Company, 1898.

Matthews, Susan, Blake, Sexuality and Bourgeois Politeness. Cambridge: CUP, 2011.

Maxwell, Richard. The Victorian Illustrated Book. Virginia UP, 2002.

Melville, Stephen W. ed. Vision and Textuality. Macmillan, 1991.

Mitchell, W. T. Iconology: Image, Text, Ideology. Chicago UP, 1987.

Möller, Joachim (ed.). Imagination on a Long Rein: English Literature Illustrated. Marburg: Jonas, 1988.

Myrone, Martin, and Lucy Peltz, ed. Producing the Past: Aspects of Antiquarian Culture and Practice, 1700-1850. Preface by Stephen Bann. Brookfield, VT: Ashgate, 1999.

Piper, Andrew. Dreaming in Books: the making of the bibliographic imagination in the Romantic Period. Chicago, 2009.

Piper, David. The Image of the Poet. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982.

Praz, Mario. Mnemosyne: The Parallel Between Literature and the Visual Arts. Princeton UP, 1970.

Rabb, Melinda. ‘Johnson, Lilliput and Eighteenth-Century Miniature’, Eighteenth Century Studies 46. 2 (2013)

Raven, James. Judging New Wealth: Popular Publishing and Responses to Commerce in England, 1750-1800. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Raven, James. The Business of Books 1450-1850 Yale UP 2007

Ray,Gordon N. The Illustrator and the Book in England from 1790-1914. Pierpont Morgan Library; Oxford University Press, 1976.

Read, Dennis M. R. H. Cromek: Engraver, Editor and Entrepreneur. Ashgate, 2011.

Sabor, Peter. ‘Illustrations of Robinson Crusoe, 1719-1920’ Eighteenth-Century Fiction. 9 (1996):122-124.

Sillars, Stuart. Illustrating Shakespeare (2008) and Painting Shakespeare (2006)

Shepherd, Lynn. Clarissa’s Painter. OUP, 2009.

Skilton, David. ‘The Relation between Illustration and Text in the Victorian Novel: A New Perspective’ in Höltgen, 303-19.

Solkin, David H. ed. Art on the Line: The Royal Academy Exhibitions at Somerset House 1780-1836. New Haven and London: Yale UP, 2001.

Solkin, David. Painting for Money: The Visual Arts and the Public Sphere in Eighteenth-Century England. Yale UP, 1992.

Smiles,Sam. Eye Witness: Artists and Visual Documentation in Britain 1770-1830 . Ashgate, 2000.

Smith, Keith A. Structure of the Visual Book. 2003.

Stafford, Barbara. Good Looking: Essays on the Virtue of Images. MIT, 2003.

St Clair, William. The Reading Nation. CUP, 2004.

Stewart, Garrett, The Look of Reading: book, painting, text. Chicago UP, 2006.

Tattersfield, Nigel. John Bewick: Engraver on Wood, 1760-1795: An Appreciation of His Life, together with an Annotated Catalogue of his Illustrations and Designs. London: British Library; New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll, 2001.

Thackeray, ‘Pictures of Life and Character. By John Leech’ (1854), Critical Papers on Art. Macmillan, 1904.

Thomas. Julia. Pictorial Victorians: The Inscription of Value in Word and Image. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2004.

Thomas, Sophie. “Poetry and Illustration” in The Blackwell Companion to Romantic Poetry, ed. Charles Mahoney (Blackwell, 2011), pp. 354-373.

Wagner, Peter, ed. Icons, Texts, Iconotexts: Essays on Ekphrasis and Intermediality. Berlin, 1996.

Walters, Gwyn. “Developments in the Study of Book Illustration.” The Book Encompassed: Studies in Twentieth-Century Bibliography. Edited by Peter Davison. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

Wendorf, Richard. Articulate Images: The Sister Arts from Hogarth to Tennyson. Minnesota UP, 1983.

Westover, Paul. ‘Illustration, Historicism, and Travel: The Legacy of Sir Walter Scott’, in Necromanticism: Traveling to Meet the Dead, 1750-1860 (Basingstoke; New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), pp. 142-73.

Whiteley, William T. Artists and Their Friends in England, 1700-1799. 1928; reprinted New York: Benjamin Blom, 1968.

Recent Posts

Queen Caroline in Caricature – August 2020

Ian Haywood, University of Roehampton

Figure 1. William Hone and George Cruikshank, The Queen’s Matrimonial Ladder: A National Toy (15 August 1820). Wilhelm Busch Museum.

Queen Caroline’s eagerly anticipated trial for adultery began in the House of Lords on 17 August 1820. It is no understatement to say that the eyes and ears of the nation were focused on this bizarre but compelling spectacle. The event generated an unprecedented degree of publicity, media attention and public scrutiny. A few days before the proceedings opened, newspapers published an open letter from Caroline to the king (which was probably penned by William Cobbett) in which she denounced the Bill of Pains and Penalties as ‘a perversion and mockery of the laws’ (Times, 14 August 1820). She condemned the government’s ‘unprovoked and unparalleled persecution’ as the culmination of a ‘malignant and unrelenting’ campaign which began when the king (then Prince of Wales) followed his own ‘inclinations’ and abandoned her in 1796 after less than a year of marriage. Any follower of her story would know that the word ‘inclination’ was a reference to the king’s separation letter which had also been widely reproduced and which anchored this controversy in an earlier, foundational period of political and social unrest, the revolutionary 1790s. Seen in this longer framework, the trial was a highly symbolic illustration of the British state’s ‘unrelenting’ resistance to democratic reform. Caroline’s supporters sensed that the tide of history was on their side,[1] and their leverage over popular public opinion went into overdrive. The scale and intensity of the campaign increased dramatically, with daily massed protests outside parliament and constant reporting of the trial in a range of formats including newspapers, periodicals, pamphlets, and whole books.[2] Significantly, caricature also stepped up a gear.

Two days before the trial opened, William Hone and George Cruikshank published their illustrated pamphlet The Queen’s Matrimonial Ladder (Figure 1).[3] Hone and Cruikshank had invented this new satirical genre the previous year when they responded to the Peterloo massacre with the phenomenally successful Political House that Jack Built. To broaden the appeal of caricature, they borrowed the populist visual style and reprographic technique of emblem books and fairy tales, using wood-engraving to enable the simultaneous printing of image and letter-press text. This also kept the price down to the relatively inexpensive one shilling, and although this was beyond most working-class consumers, the new format was a smash hit with the middle classes who could now enjoy up to twenty vignettes for the price of one single-sheet caricature. As we shall see, the textual element of the new genre was also deceptively complex and multi-layered, comprising a sub-title, a literary epigraph, and a playful, parodic narrative. For the Queen’s Matrimonial Ladder, Hone and Cruikshank went one step further (pun intended) and provided at no extra cost another, simplified version of the satire they called a ‘toy’ (Figure 2). This was a small, stiff, cardboard ladder which resembled in every respect a children’s plaything, though its cultural allusiveness was, as we might expect, decidedly more nuanced.

Figure 2. The ‘toy’ version of the Queen’s Matrimonial Ladder. Special Collections, Adelphi University. Author’s photographs.

The delightful cover design of the pamphlet was firmly in step (forgive the second and last pun) with the defiant public mood. It shows a triumphal Caroline sitting cross-armed on top of a stepladder, the rungs of which are inscribed with 14 different stages of matrimony. She looks down on the pitiful figure of George who has tumbled backwards after breaking the penultimate downward step called ‘Coronation’. The clear message is that George will get his comeuppance (come-downance?) for his misdemeanours: in other words, moral and satirical logic dictates that justice will prevail, even if this means comically flirting with seditious iconography. In advance of the trial opening, the image not only declares Caroline’s innocence but exacts its own populist punishment on the errant monarch. In the event, the conclusion of the controversy was far less sanguine, but that could not have been foreseen in the summer of 1820. In cinematic terms, the design is both a trailer and a spoiler as it gives away the (happy) ending. With this reassuring denouement in place, the reader-viewer could enjoy this refreshing satirical review of what was by now a familiar, hagiographic story of an injured, elevated woman.

The use of the step ladder as the central symbol shows Cruikshank’s brilliance in revitalising and repurposing familiar visual motifs. He drew on two well-known precedents. The most obvious precursor was the Matrimonial Ladder, an existing genre in polite Georgian culture which reminded the middle classes about the pitfalls of marriage.[4] Cruikshank was almost certainly parodying decorous versions of this moralistic device such as a greeting card sold by Rudolph Ackermann which shares some of the same ‘-tion’ suffixed abstract nouns on the rungs (Figure 3).[5] But the more important point is that the pyramidal structure of the step ladder provided a symmetrical, bathetic, two-stage narrative: a rise and fall of the fortunes of the protagonists with a pivot point at the apex. For this schema to work, one has to imagine walking up one side of the ladder and down the other, an unlikely procedure in reality but nevertheless one that distinguished the step ladder from the regular, linear ladder which requires a reverse or backward motion to descend. In its non-satirical guise, the turning point is not especially dramatic (‘Dissension’, ‘Rumination’) and the squabbling wife and husband are kept separated in the borders. When the genre was transferred to caricature, Hone and Cruikshank abandoned such polite restraint.

Figure 3. This greeting card depicting a Matrimonial Ladder was sold by Rudolph Ackermann from his Repository of the Arts shop on the Strand, c. 1814-18. Victoria and Albert Museum.

To adapt this format for Caroline’s more tempestuous, tendentious, and cyclical story, Cruikshank moved the players centre stage where they could confront each other directly. This is most clear in the redacted ‘toy’ version where Caroline and George inhabit the rectangular black spaces of the Ackermann design. The incremental rise and fall of the original sequence (from ‘Admiration’ to ‘Separation’) is also disrupted to take account of the more complex, iterative, and confrontational structure of the royal marriage in which Caroline suffers at least three separations (from husband, daughter and country) on the upward slope. Contrastingly, her fortunes are in the ascendant on the downward side after she returns to Britain. It is this moment, the switch from ‘Emigration’ to ‘Remigration’, which forms the apex of the ladder and her transformation from victim to heroine. It is also the beginning of the end for George who suffers one humiliation after another, terminating in an empty coronation and the ‘Degradation’ of a becoming a national clown chastised by Britannia. Unlike the even-handed symmetry of the Ackermann ladder in which both participants suffer equally, Cruikshank’s partisan narrative has a clear winner and loser.

The other source that Cruikshank drew on was the political ladder, a motif used in numerous satirical prints from the late eighteenth century onwards.[6] In Popular Frenzy; or, the Demolition of St Stephs Chapel (1784), for example, we see the House of Commons under attack from William Pitt and his Tory ministers (Figure 4). In their bid to unseat the Fox-North Coalition, the Tories use a siege ladder whose rungs are inscribed with the word ‘Address’, a reference to the popular national support for this constitutional coup. In this pro-Whig print, the clear implication is that populism is a manipulative political tool which whips up public opinion into reactionary hysteria, anarchy, or ‘Frenzy’, but it is also important to remember that Addresses were one of the main levers of support for Caroline: one political party’s unruly ‘mob’ is another’s democratic base. The print also evokes a key moment in British political history when the Tories began their long period of rule, the consequences of which were still being unravelled in 1820. In this respect, Cruikshank’s ladder may also allude to another recent injustice which he helped to expose: the execution of hundreds of people for unwitting banknote forgery.[7] The cover design for a satirical pamphlet called Satan’s Bank Note (1819) shows Castlereagh as a hangman standing on a step ladder (Figure 5). The devil sitting on the gallows echoes Caroline’s position atop the matrimonial ladder, and the parallel provides a wittily diabolical analogy for her power over a king who mistreats his subjects.

Figure 4. Popular Frenzy; or, the Demolition of St Stephs Chapel (1784). British Museum Satires 6438.
Figure 5. Satan’s Bank Note (c.1819) British Museum Satires 14206.

Like the Political House that Jack Built, the Queen’s Matrimonial Ladder spawned a host of imitations by supporters and opponents, and Cruikshank was even paid handsomely enough to produce an anti-radical response to his own design, The Radical Ladder.[8] The huge success of the illustrated pamphlet genre shows that the public appreciated this new, rich interplay between satirical image and text. Illustration was not yet regarded as subservient or secondary to the text, and its evolving status can be seen in the subtitle of the Queen’s Matrimonial Ladder which refers somewhat confusingly (for modern eyes) to ‘scenes’, ‘illustrations in verse’ and ‘cuts’. The phrase ‘illustrations in verse’ implies that the primary appeal of the satire was visual, but another aspect of the cover design shows the importance of textual agency. The dominant visual image of the ladder is flanked by two quotations which embed the pamphlet in both reportage and literary tradition. The first is taken from one of the Queen’s widely disseminated replies to the thousands of Addresses sent to her and stresses the radical unity between her cause and the British people. The second is from Act 3 Scene 2 of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure in which the disreputable Pompey Bum is about to be sent to jail for visiting a brothel. The two quotations amplify and deepen the image’s depiction of heroinism and villainy. As the queen is elevated to a national icon of political justice, the king is further degraded and humiliated by the national bard.

On the inside pages, this textual interplay is enhanced by the addition of the main narrative. There is no knowing if readers consumed the images or texts first, though my hunch is for the former, especially as we know that hand-coloured versions of the pamphlets were available. But regardless of which way round the page was read, the process of decoding each component and fitting the whole together like a puzzle must have provided hours of illuminating entertainment. ‘Accusation’ and ‘Publication’, the two most up-to-date scenes, are particularly rewarding in this respect. Unlike the depictions of these two stages in the ‘toy’, which are limited to exquisite slapstick confrontations between Caroline and George, the pamphlet scenes are much richer extrapolations of government’s machinations against Caroline. Though reduced in scale, the sophistication and detail of these designs comes close to evoking the virtuosity and spectacular effects of single-print caricatures.

Figure 6. William Hone and George Cruikshank, ‘Accusation’. From The Queen’s Matrimonial Ladder.

‘Accusation’ (Figure 6) reimagines George as a watchman standing outside the door of one of Caroline’s residences. He holds a pole on top of which is a green bag entitled ‘Beware of the Report of a Bad House’; in other words, this is a house of ill-repute and Caroline is little better than a prostitute. On the other side of the king is his lantern containing a leech, a reference to Sir John Leach who led the ‘Milan Commission’ into Caroline’s guilt. George’s pole bisects the scene and gives an antithetical emphasis to the right-hand side of the image which contains Caroline’s defiant response. Backed by her two lawyers Henry Brougham and Thomas Denman, she leans out of an open window and puts a torch marked ‘Defence’ to the green bag. Although her face is stern, her reticule or string-drawn purse which dangles over the window sill has a face which smiles at the viewer. This minor detail is the punctum of the cartoon as it is a self-reflexive nod towards the power of satire which simultaneously condenses and rebuts the sexual slurs against Caroline. The grinning visage, reminiscent of Momus the god of mockery, hints at the presence of a mischievous pun on the idea that reticules or ‘ridicules’ were evidence of loose morals. As the text declares, with lashings of genital innuendo, ‘his wife held her ridicule at his “Report”’ – a witticism that gains added force and poignancy from the obscene slang term ‘Burning Shame’ that hovers prominently over the image.[9] The spry purse also evokes her refusal to be bought off with a £50,000 allowance. For all his attempts to perform masculine authority, George is upstaged by an assertive woman who wields the torch of justice and the carnivalesque weapon of ‘ridicule’.

The two quotations from Cymbeline add further levels of irony and interpretation to this already rich melange. The first, ‘I will kill thee, if thou dost deny/Thou hast made me a cuckold’ is spoken by Posthumus Leonatus in Act 2 Scene 4. He is reacting to Iachimo’s claim that, in response to a bet, he has slept with Leonatus’s wife Imogen. Leonatus’s Othello-like credulity and rage about his wife’s alleged infidelity is a subtle comment on George’s calculating and hypocritical determination to discredit and dishonour his wife. As he admits to himself, the church will not grant a divorce ‘If my own hands are dirty’ – which of course they are, stained indelibly by filthy lucre (the original, mercenary reason for the marriage, as shown in ‘Qualification’ and ‘Declaration’) and serial adultery (as shown in ‘Alteration’). In other words, he does not even ‘qualify’ to be a Shakespearean wife-killer. The other quotation, from Act 3 Scene 2, links to the xenophobic attacks on the Italian witnesses who were called to testify against Caroline. The stereotype of the avaricious, shifty and treacherous Italian achieved prominence in the first few weeks of the trial when her ex-servant Theodore Majocchi repeatedly answered Brougham’s questions with ‘Non mi ricordo’ (I don’t remember), a refrain that became the unofficial logo of the proceedings and the title of another Hone-Cruikshank pamphlet.[10] To rub in the point, the lines in Cymbeline are spoken by the loyal servant Pisanio who refuses to believe the allegations against Imogen. Pisanio’s next words can easily be applied to the idealized Caroline: ‘Disloyal! No:/She’s punish’d for her truth, and undergoes,/More goddess-like than wife-like, such assaults’.[11]

Figure 7. William Hone and George Cruikshank, ‘Publication’. From The Queen’s Matrimonial Ladder.

The theme of disloyalty is given a startling new twist in the next episode, ‘Publication’ (Figure 7). The scene shows George as a pantomime Guy Fawkes figure, breaking into a building which houses Caroline and planting a huge green bag of allegedly explosive evidence. He is accompanied in his nocturnal skulduggery by a disabled and demoralized Cupid, and he carries a conspiratorial dark lantern containing a leech (Leach) and a bunch of matches. Caroline peers down at him through a lorgnette from a window above the door. She does not appear distressed as the building is protected by Albion Life Assurance (a real company founded in 1805, but the allegorical significance of its patriotic name is what counts). She is also protected by the celestial eye of knowledge which encloses a printing press, the cherished symbol of freedom of expression and, according to the text, the ‘MORAL SUN’ of the nation. This motif echoes earlier satirical depictions of the Gunpowder Plot in which divine beams of light expose Fawkes’s treachery.[12] And even though Fawkes’s reputation shifted in the Romantic period from arch national traitor to heroic (if over-zealous) martyr for religious and political rights, the king’s self-interested motives hardly qualify for this liberal reinterpretation.[13] George is a danger to the nation and the enemy of the free press. Although the epigraph from a well-known speech by Sheridan points a finger at the ‘venal House of Peers’, the image targets the king alone.[14]

The final point to note about this scene is the punning title. To begin with, there are two conspicuous but antithetical references at play: the first is to the discredited ‘publication’ of the secret inquiry into Caroline’s affairs; the second is to the elevated mission of the ‘fearless’ free press which ‘guards, alike, the people and their throne’. There is also a third meaning waiting in the wings: the threat of Caroline’s legal team to publish the ‘recrimination’ or evidence of the king’s sexual indiscretions, including his first marriage. As Ben Wilson notes, although the word ‘recrimination’ is ‘conspicuously absent’ from the named rungs of the matrimonial ladder, the satire itself stands in for the judicial process and bares all.[15]

This takes us to a fourth connotation, the publication of the pamphlet itself. Satire was not routinely associated with the free press, even though it was clearly an important constituent, and the inviolable symbol of the hand-operated printing press evokes text rather than visual image. This is one reason why caricature was so self-reflexive, constantly defining, exploring, and promoting its unique brand. To be sure, some of this rhetoric was self-puffery, but in Hone and Cruikshank’s case there is little doubt that their success was the result of a self-propelling innovation in form.[16] By the end of the first week of its publication, according to the Examiner (20 August), the Queen’s Matrimonial Ladder was already in its 12th edition. The Examiner was full of praise for ‘another of Mr. Hone’s happy illustrations of public feeling’. The language is revealing: ‘illustration’ here can mean both visualization and enhancement. In an advert for the pamphlet in the same issue, the key word is ‘embellished’: ‘The most extensively embellished, and most rapidly selling production ever issued from the press’. In addition, ‘Orders from the country…will be punctually executed, and Placards for doors and shop-windows enclosed’. Exposure was key to the success of caricature: it relocated high politics to the ‘shop window’ and the gaze of the viewing public.


[1] One polemic argued that ‘the millions who compose the civilized and unbiassed part of mankind’ must ensure ‘the destruction of the prevailing system, by an adequate reform of parliament’ (Charles Maclean, The Triumph of Public Opinion (T. and J. Allman, 1820), 2).

[2] The free borrowing of newspaper text made the recirculation of news stories easier. Caroline’s trial could be followed on a daily, weekly, or monthly cycle, depending on the type of publication, or a combination of all three. Less ephemeral modes of publication also proliferated, including bound, serialized and multivolume trial reports, though it was not always clear where the initial information came from. Radical publishers seized their opportunity to cash in: see, for example, John Fairburn’s Whole Proceedings on the Trial of Her Majesty, originally in weekly parts, then 2 volumes, then 3 volumes with a reprint of the 1806 Delicate Investigation.

[3] The full text is reproduced with a useful introduction in Benjamin Colbert, ed. British Satire 1785-1840: Collected Satires III: Complete Longer Satires (2003; London: Routledge, 2016).

[4] Hone claimed that he got the idea for the pamphlet after seeing a toy Matrimonial Ladder in the window of a ‘little fancy shop’, and that he was offered £500 by the government to suppress it. See Frederick W. M. Hackwood, William Hone: His Life and Times (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1912), 236-7.

[5] For example, ‘Acceptation’ and ‘Declaration’. For an eighteenth-century example, see Hymen’s Ladder (c.1770-90), British Museum 1983, U.2187. The genre remained popular will into the nineteenth century: a mid-1820s print by the caricature publisher Thomas McLean is also in the British Museum collection, and Cruikshank collaborated on a Matrimonial Ladder as late as 1843 (British Museum 1859 0316 804). See also Marcus Wood, Radical Satire and Print Culture, 1790-1822 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994), 172-6.

[6] In addition to the examples discussed here, Gillray’s Apotheosis of Hoche (1798; British Museum Satires 9156) is one of the more audacious parodies of Jacob’s biblical ladder.

[7] See Hone and Cruikshank’s Bank Restriction Note and Bank Restriction Barometer, British Museum Satires 13198, 13199. I cover this topic in Romanticism and Caricature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), Chapter 2, ‘Lethal Money’.

[8] British Museum Satires 13895. The radical publisher Thomas Dolby was a prolific producer of these pamphlets: some of my favourites are The Queen and Magna Charta and A Total Eclipse (both illustrated by Robert Cruikshank), and Jack and the Queen Killers. The main loyalist publisher was W. Wright: see, for example, The New Pilgrim’s Progress.

[9] According to Francis Grose’s Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (London: S. Hooper, 1795), the term refers to ‘a lighted candle stuck into the private parts of a woman’ (23).

[10] Hone’s peddling of anti-Italian xenophobia was probably tactical and commercial as, like most liberals and radicals, he was a supporter of the European revolutionary struggles that were taking place in Italy and Spain in 1820, and in radical analysis a degraded national character was attributed to a corrupt political system. On the wider picture, see Will Bowers, The Italian Idea: Anglo-Italian Radical Literary Culture 1815-23 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020). The Caroline controversy was actually cited by rebel leaders to aid their cause (Jane Robins, Rebel Queen: How the Trial of Caroline Brought England to the Brink of Revolution (London: Simon and Schuster, 2006), 144-45).

[11] There is no space here to pursue the Shakespearean parallels further, but the ironies proliferate depending on the allocation of roles. For example, anti-Carolinites could have focused on Cymbeline’s treacherous queen rather than the victimized Imogen; on the other hand, Iachimo’s seedy spying on the sleeping Imogen evokes the trial’s lubricious obsession with Caroline’s love life.

[12] See: The Guy Faux of 1770 (British Museum Satires 41); James Sayers, A New Leaf for an Old Book of Common Prayer 1807 (British Museum Satires 10739); James Gillray, The Pillar of the Constitution 1807 (British Museum Satires 10738).

[13] See Frederick Burwick, ‘Staging Protest and Repression: Guy Fawkes in Post-Peterloo Performance’, in Michael Demson and Regina Hewitt, eds. Commemorating Peterloo: Violence, Resilience and Claim-Making during the Romantic Era (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2019), 100-119.

[14] Sheridan’s speech occurred in 1810 during a debate about proposals to restrict the reporting of parliamentary proceedings (Annual Register (1810): 37-8). In the full speech, Sheridan praised the power of the free press to ‘shake down corruption from its height, and bury it beneath the ruins of those abuses it was meant to shelter’, an apt sentiment for the Caroline controversy.

[15] Ben Wilson, The Laughter of Triumph: William Hone and the Fight for the Free Press (London: Faber and Faber, 2005), 326.

[16] See the article ‘Political Publications in Wood-Cuts and Verse’ in the Examiner (24 December 1820) which celebrates Hone’s pamphlets as ‘a new feature in the history and publication of English politics’.

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