- Museum number
Object: Bug or humbug.
Series: Political Sketches
No. 293. Two men seated on a bench in centre; the one the right (Lord Brougham) addressing the other (Sir Edward Sugden), holding a bundle on the floor with his right hand; a third man (Lord Abinger) watching from behind a curtain to far left. 1 January 1834
- Production date
Height: 248 millimetres
Width: 330 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Text from 'An Illustrative Key to the Political Sketches of H.B.', London 1841:
The story attached to this sketch, illustrative as it is of the public characters of public men, (for public men can, in their public characters, "do such deeds" as make private individuals "Lift up their hands and wonder who could do them,") is much too good to be lost. The story consists of two parts, namely, the Bug and the Humbug; and they relate to two different periods of time. On the 25th of July, 1832, Sir Edward Sugden, in the House of Commons, adverted to the filling up of sinecure offices in the Court of Chancery, which he had understood were to have been abolished, and called upon the Lord-Chancellor to explain the recent appointment of his brother to the office of Registrar of Affidavits. Lord Brougham was not the person to remain silent when so called on. He is a customer who pays as he goes, and always pays in full. He responded to the call on the very next night, and the following is the portion of his speech which explains the first half of the title of the sketch.
He was convinced that the question put by a learned gentleman in another place, which seemed to insinuate that he was violating his pledge, by filling up the appointment, had no such meaning, and wholly originated in a laudable anxiety to elicit information on a matter affecting the character of the highest law authority. "Yes, my lords, it is this heaven-born thirst of information and its condition, at least invariable concomitant, a self-disregarding and candid mind, that most distinguishes man from the crawling reptile - that most distinguishes man from the wasp that stings, and from the insect that fain would but cannot sting - aye, distinguishes us from, not only the insect that crawls and stings, but from that more powerful, because more offensive, creature the BUG, who, powerful and offensive as it is, is, after all, but so much loathsome vermin."
This comparison of Sir Edward Sugden to a bug, was a blow that the learned gentleman felt very keenly at the time, and he gave vent to his feelings in a speech which he delivered in the House of Commons on the next night. But there the affair ended; and, so far as regarded the Lord-Chancellor, the fact probably was, that having paid Sir Edward all that he owed him, and something more, by way of interest, his equanimity soon returned, and he was ready, perhaps the very next day, to shake hands with him.
The second portion of the story, namely, the Humbug, consists of the speech which the Lord-Chancellor is here represented as uttering, December, 1833; but though designated as Humbug by H.B., and, perhaps, so intended by the speaker, the acknowledged talents and learning of Sir Edward Sugden leave it doubtful if it might not have been sincere. The person looking in from behind the curtain is Lord Abinger.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number