- Museum number
Object: Apollo and the tuneful nine!
Series: Political Sketches
No. 636. A frieze, with Apollo seated on a rock at centre, playing the lyre (Daniel O'Connell), and the nine muses standing at left (Lord Morpeth, Sir John Cam Hobhouse, Lord Palmerston, Lord Russell) and at right (Lords Melbourne and Normanby, Richard Lalor Shiel, Thomas Babington Macaulay, Lord Monteagle). 1 May 1840
- Production date
Height: 283 millimetres
Width: 367 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- For preliminary drawing see 1882,1209.471
Text from 'An Illustrative Key to the Political Sketches of H.B.', London 1844:
The tuneful nine are composed of six of the Cabinet Ministers, with Mr. Shiel, Mr. Macauley and Lord Monteagle. As stated in the explanation of the preceding sketch, their number is precisely that of the majority in favour of Ministers on the resolutions relating to China. That Mr. O'Connell was "the yellow hair'd God," of these "nine fusty maids," was an oft-repeated charge made against the Government by the party in opposition; but there is something new, as well as droll in the appropriation of the characters to the several persons whose likenesses appear in the sketch. Terpsichore is Lord Morpeth, for a reason which will at once appear valid, if the reader will turn to the sketch No. DXLIV. "a Ball Room Scene." Euterpe, who presides over music, is Sir John Cam Hob-house, then President of the Board of Control. Euterpe is ordinarily represented with a flute in her hands, but H. B. has very properly given to her representative a Tom-tom, instead of a flute, in allusion to his connection with the Eastern world.
The readers of the 'Times', in which Lord Palmerston was then very seldom mentioned by any other name than that of Cupid, will be at no loss to understand why the character of Erato is assigned to his Lordship, when they have read the following description of this particular muse. "Erato, the muse who presided over lyric, tender, and amorous poetry. She is represented as crowned with roses and myrtle, holding in her right hand a lyre, and a lute in her left, of which instruments she is considered by some to be the inventress. Love is sometimes placed by her side holding a lighted flambeau, while she herself appears with a thoughtful, but oftener with a gay and animated look. She was invoked by lovers, especially in the month of April, which among the Romans was more particularly devoted to love."
Clio is the muse who presides over history, and therefore very properly personated by Lord John Russell, the author of "The History of the British Constitution," and "Memoirs of Europe since the Peace of Utrecht." He is represented in the act of recording the number of the majority against the China Resolutions.
Mr. O'Connell is the Apollo, and next to him on the opposite side to Clio stands Lord Melbourne, in the character of Thalia, the Muse who presides over festivals. She is distinguished from her sister Muses by a mask, a characteristic, of which H.B. has made excellent use, by giving to the mask the smile which his Lordship wears in public, and to the natural countenance, that expression of anxiety, which, it is but too probable, belongs inseparably to his eminent station, and in private is expressed as plainly as it is deeply felt.
Melpomene, the tragic muse, is personated by the Marquess of Normanby, a compliment paid by H.B. to his Lordship's literary talents. Polyhymnia, the muse who presides over rhetoric, is given to that splendid orator, Mr. Shiel: Quid est oratori tarn necessarium, quam vox? Mr. Macauley, also an orator of great celebrity, is represented by Calliope, the muse who presides over eloquence, and Lord Monteagle (late Mr. T. Spring Rice) who had just soared above the plebeian world, and entered the upper region of aristocracy, is presented to us in the character of Urania, the muse who presides over astronomy, holding in his hand a telescope, with which he is looking out for higher honours yet in perspective.
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