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Manchester Square cattle shew

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • Manchester Square cattle shew
  • Description

    Plate from 'Town Talk; or, Living Manners', ii. 265. A caravan supported on high wheels stands in a cobbled space surrounded by houses; in front of it is a platform onto which opens a door in the side of the van, whose roof is raised and supported like a box-lid. On a tall pole attached to the front are two large pictorial placards: on the lower one is an enormous cow with the face of Lady Hertford; a marquis's coronet encircles her neck, and on the ground before her is a collection of objects including a crown; she has picked up, and is munching, a sceptre. On the horizon the façade of Carlton House is indicated. The placard above this is in two compartments: in one is a red bull with the head of Lord Yarmouth, inscribed 'Tony Lumphim' [sic] with a signpost pointing (in reversed characters) 'To Yarmouth'. In the other is a sportive bull with the head of the Regent; it has just kicked down a fence; inscription: 'Young Caesar'. The caravan is 'Bull's Wonderfull Menagerie'; from a flag-staff attached to it flies a large Royal Standard.
    Steps lead up to the platform which is above the heads of the crowd. A fat showman, John Bull, standing on a step, holds a blue ribbon attached to the horns of a large bull with the head of Lord Hertford which stands passively on the platform with closed eyes. Two musicians stand behind the bull (left); one has a box-organ, the other beats a drum and blows pan-pipes. Two spectators stand behind the bull pointing up at the placards. The showman says: "Walk up Ladies and Gentlemen and see the curiosest Hanimals that ever was seed afore—a Cow of an extraordinary size, of the Hertfordshire breed, six inches fat on each side clear of the ribs, more celebrated for her zveight than beauty, remarkably short in the neck, and distended in the udder—also an Old Bull of the same breed—blind but not from age—remarkable for the length of his horns and his docility; indeed so tractable is this that you see he is led by a blue ribband. Then there is a red Bull Calf of the same breed—eats amazingly, drinks abundantly, but so vicious that it is necessary to caution the public against him—after to day these Hanimals may be seen every day in Manchester Square for Half a Crown Also to be seen at the same place every day from 3 to 6, from 9 to 12 and occasionally to 3, 4, 5, or 6 in the morning as the company may suit a remarkably large Bull Calf [the Regent] of the Buckinghamshire, or Kings own breed, astonishingly agile in his movements, and although so fat can make a summerset, wheel round or otherwise change his positions with wonderfull versatility strangely forgetfull tho, admission to see this Hanimal alone nothing less than a Crown."
    Three streets lead to the square. On the right is 'King Street'; at the corner of this a small (yellow) coach and pair with drawn blinds advances towards the caravan. The coachman (probably Perceval) and two footmen behind are in plain clothes; on the door are the letters 'G.P.R.' A ragged ballad-singer, surrounded by a small group of listeners, sings 'A Prince he would a Rakeing go!! [cf. No. 11842],' pointing over her shoulder with her thumb at the coach. A bystander looks round at it, saying, "There he goes." In front of a crowd which stands to watch the Prince's coach (right) or to gaze up at the caravan (left) stand Grenville (with vast posteriors) and Grey in conversation. The former: "I do not like that fat Hertfordshire Cow with her great Duggs—did you percieve how Vicious she look'd at us." Grey: "Yes my Friend! and the Red Bull Calf did not look less so. I think we had better keep out of their way." Two well-dressed men watch the coach, saying, "D—n it is that the P— in that shabby chariot, where can he be going to" and "Why into Hertfordshire to be sure to hold a secret Council!" [Cf. Moore's 'Extracts from the Diary of a Politician'; see the supplementary information in the comment.] Spectators (left) gape up at the caravan. A butcher holds on his shoulder a tray containing two calves' heads labelled 'Lady Hertford' [the name indicated only] 'Manchester Square'; a little ragged girl carries a basket of 'Regency Spice Nuts'. The houses in the background are drawn with realistic precision. On one corner of King Street is a low-built ale-house, with a large placard 'Jno Adams / The Hit or Miss [cf. No. 11700] / Meux and Reid [brewers]'; on the chimney is a notice: 'Sun Engine' [the insurance companies kept fire-engines]. Opposite is a tall building, the 'Worcester Coffee House'; on this is a bill: 'Town Talk 'N° IV'. At the opposite side of the square (left) behind the caravan is 'Princes Street', with the window of a silversmith's shop at the corner.
    1 May 1812
    Hand-coloured etching


  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1812
  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 260 millimetres
    • Width: 432 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Lettered: "Pubd for the Proprietors of Town Talk May 1st 1812".
  • Curator's comments

    (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', IX, 1949)
    One of many satires in which the Prince's desertion of the Whigs is attributed to Lady Hertford, see No. 11853, &c. Lord Hertford is attacked both for his complaisance and for accepting favours: his Garter dated from 1807, but he was made Lord Chamberlain on 5 Mar. 1812, and his son Yarmouth Vice-Chamberlain on 10 Mar. Report was busy on the greed of the Hertfords: 'The love of gain, it is said, pervades the whole family, and that even Lady Hertford is so fond of "Diamonds" that the Prince's finances can hardly suffice.' 'Corr. of Lord G. L. Gower', 1916, ii. 429 (Lady Bessborough, 31 Dec. 1811). For the Prince's frequent visits to Hertford House see No. 11859.

    (Supplementary information)
    No. 11724 should be dated 1 May 1812.
    Moore's 'Extracts from the Diary of a Politician':
    Through M—nch—st—r Square took a canter just now-
    Met the old yellow chariot, and made a low bow.
    This I did, of course, thinking 'twas loyal and civil
    But got such a look—oh 'twas black as the devil! . . .
    'Mem.'—When next by the old yellow chariot I ride,
    To remember there is nothing princely inside.


  • Bibliography

    • BM Satires 11878 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (Satires British 1812 Unmounted Roy)

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number


FOR DESCRIPTION SEE GEORGE (BMSat)   Hand-coloured etching

FOR DESCRIPTION SEE GEORGE (BMSat) Hand-coloured etching

Image description



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