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A New Way to Enforce an Argument!!!!!

George Cruikshank1815-05-03

British Museum

British Museum

Parliament was divided on the question of war, although members in favour vastly outnumbered those against. One who never faltered in his opposition was Samuel Whitbread, an important ally of Charles James Fox against return to war in 1803, who continued to make demands for peace negotiations over the next decade. Whitbread was the son of the famous brewer and was not allowed to forget the family business: Cruikshank has dressed him as a drayman with an apron carrying a large mug of beer. The scene is a debate on 20 April 1815 on the subject of Napoleon’s return to France when the Opposition was infuriated by Castlereagh’s refusal to give an account of current negotiations in Vienna. Whitbread’s powerful, but sometimes barely controlled, oratory is caricatured as a physical attack and his furious speech is quoted verbatim: ‘I do insist that those who justified their own misdeeds by their success would also allow the misdeeds of others to be justified by their success, and they who could swallow Copenhagen down, might well swallow the recapture of Paris and the Imperial Throne’ (a reference to the British bombardment and burning of Copenhagen in September 1807 – a pre-emptive strike designed to prevent the possibility of Danish naval support for Napoleon). On 28 April, Whitbread’s motion against a war to destroy Napoleon was rejected by 273 votes to 72 and the following months saw him in a state of increasing agitation as financial problems piled on his political dilemma. On 6 July he killed himself.

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Details

  • Title: A New Way to Enforce an Argument!!!!!
  • Creator: George Cruikshank
  • Date Created: 1815-05-03
  • Physical Dimensions: 370 x 280 mm
  • Medium: Hand-coloured etching
  • British Museum website: 1859,0316.98

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