- Museum number
- Object: Madam Blubber's last shift or The aerostatic dilly.
The piazza of Covent Garden, with the hustings, showing a line of hill in the distance inscribed 'View of Richmond Hill'. In the air, flying towards the hustings, is Mrs. Hobart encased from the waist downwards in a circular balloon to which is attached a hammock-like platform, on which lie two voters, face downwards, looking over the side. The lady, in profile to the left, looking upwards, excessively fat, with uncovered breast, is saying "This may save him"; her petticoats have been transformed into the balloon, her 'last shift'. A blast issues from her posteriors. One of her passengers in profile to the left holds out his hand, saying, "I see the Hustings". The other, facing in the opposite direction, says, "thank God I am an outside Passenger". A flock of birds scatters right to left of the balloon.
Wray, kneeling on one knee, and Hood standing behind him (right) look up eagerly to the balloon, holding out their hands. Wrays says, "A foul wind is fair for us"; Hood says, "O come sweet Air Balloon or I must off in one". The hustings under the portico of St. Paul's are freely sketched; gesticulating orators, hat in hand, address the crowd. One of the houses on the right (north) side of the piazza is inscribed 'Lows'; a flag flies from a window.
Beneath the print is etched the title and an explanation in a centre column, with the words of a song on each side of it:
'The grand political Balloon launched at Richmond Park on the of March 1784 and discharged by secret influence with great Effect in Covent Garden at 12 O Clock on the same day.
As it may be necessary to explain to the Public upon what principals a body was conveyed 12 Miles with so great velocity it must be understood that the lady tho ponderous being of a very Volatile disposition, out of decency sewed up her petticoats when a little accident happening an inflammable Gas was generated which immediately raised her to a considerable height in the Atmosphere and by the attraction of secret influence was convey'd to her desired Object.....the support of Hood and Wray and the constitution and descended happily to the Hustings with two outlying and dependent Voters'.
The 'Song, Tune Bellisle March', begins:
Tho' in every Street
All the Voters you meet
The Dutchess knows but how to court them
Yet for outlying Votes
In my Petticoats
I've found out a way to transport them.' 29 April 1784
- Production date
Height: 350 millimetres
Width: 248 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', VI, 1938)
This print was anticipated by a large bill signed 'Katterfelto Junior' dated 28 Apr. adjuring the 'Friends of Hood and Wray' 'not to dispond . . . the outlying Voters still remain . . . a much distinguished Lady has found a way of conveying them any distance her rival cannot reach. . . . This friend to the Constitutional Candidates will descend upon the public Hustings between one and three As an Air Balloon . . .'. Copy in Guildhall Library (Collection of Squibs on the Westminster Election), reprinted 'Westminster Election', pp. 109-10. Mrs. Hobart had a villa on Ham Common (which she called 'Sans Souci'), hence probably the allusion to Richmond Hill. See BMSat 6526.
The sketch for this print (10 1/2 x 12 5/8 in.) by an amateur is in the Print Room (201. c. 6/23, 25). In this the inscriptions are as in the print with words further to explain the rough sketch: 'Irish chairmen' being written below St. Paul's Church. Its manner resembles that of sketches by discount Townshend in the Department. It was attributed to him: 'Mrs H-----t has not ballooned a single vote to the Hustings since she was Caricatured by the unmerciful Viscount of Hanover Square'. Newspaper Paragraph quoted in the 'Westminster Election', p. 363. (Townshend lived at 9 Hanover Square.) Rowlandson's working drawing incised for transfer is with the sketch, showing that much of the design was etched directly on the plate.
Grego, 'Rowlandson', i. 134.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number