- Museum number
Object: A distinguished amateur in the character of Jeremy Diddler.
Series: Political Sketches
No. 681. A man in the character of Jeremy Diddler from Kenney's farce 'Raising the Wind' (Lord Melbourne), standing at centre, looking ruefully at a document lettered with 'CORN LAWS', which he holds in his left hand. 7 May 1841
- Production date
Height: 315 millimetres
Width: 216 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- For preliminary drawing see 1882,1209.499
Text from 'An Illustrative Key to the Political Sketches of H.B.', London 1844:
The peculiar traits in the character of Lord Melbourne present some very inviting points both to the pen of the satirist and the pencil of the caricaturist; and yet, while his vulnerable points are so numerous, and so broad, that every hand may aim with very little fear of missing them, there is a certain nonchalance about him, a degree of candour, a professed absence of pretension, and an indifference as to personal consequences (whether real or affected) that blunt the edge of satire's weapon, and sometimes even make it recoil against him by whom it is cast. A keen observer may, nevertheless, sometimes discern the symptoms of acute sensibility on certain points; but these points are never hit by H.B., for his is not the hand to strike a foul blow.
"His fancy as gay as the fire-fly's light
Played round every subject and shone as it played,
His wit in the combat, as gentle as bright,
Ne'er carried a heart-stain away on its blade."
These reflections are naturally suggested by the present sketch of Lord Melbourne, in the character of Jeremy Diddler, in Kenney's well-known and admirable farce of "Raising the Wind." The idea is a happy one. The financial circumstances of the country under the Melbourne administration had grown into sad disorder. The Exchequer, like Sir Francis Wronghead's Estate, "was sadly out at elbows," - the public income as compared with the public expenditure, bore some resemblance to Jeremy Diddler's trowsers, as applied to his legs, - it was too short, in spite of the straps - and amidst these difficulties the premier had no certain means of increasing it. Nor was the public income the only thing which had shrunk during the ascendancy of Lord Melbourne and the Whigs; their popularity, which, in 1832, had wrapped them all over like a travelling cloak, had fretted away until it had become both scanty and threadbare and afforded no sort of protection against the pelting of the pitiless storm which beat at the same moment from the East and West, from the Chartists and the Tories.
It was in this extremity that the Whigs proposed to alter the laws relating to the importation of Foreign Corn, and the charge generally made against them by their political opponents was that their proposition was a mere experiment to revive their defunct popularity. The reader, who most probably knows that Jeremy Diddler, in the farce, is a broken down gentleman, or, to borrow a well-known line from a well-known tragedy
"A needy man who has seen better days"
and resorts to every kind of expedient of the borrowing kind to raise the wind, will see quite enough of resemblance between the two characters to warrant the comparison made by H.B., and in the vain exhortations of the Ministerialists to the English landowners to allow them to admit foreign corn at a fixed duty of 8s. per quarter, he will be reminded of Jerry's oft-repeated solicitation to the person whom he has marked out for victimization, "My dear fellow! have you got such a thing as ten-pence about you?"
In the reproach which Lord Melbourne is made to cast upon himself, for not honourably earning his breakfasts and his dinners, H.B. has playfully alluded to the remarks which the opposition press was continually making on the frequency of his Lordship's visits at the palace, where he appeared to board and lodge, and be much more at home than at his own residence.
- Not on display
- Associated titles
Associated Title: Raising the Wind (1803)
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number