- Museum number
- Object: -A petty-Professor of Modern-History, brought to the light.-
Design in an oval. William Smyth, slim, and fashionably dressed under his gown, delivers a lecture. He stands in profile to the left, his hands resting on the cloth-covered table on which his reading-desk stands, its slope covered with the sheets of the lecture. Heavy clouds surround him, and conceal his feet. His audience face him on seats rising steeply; they are either asleep or yawning. In the front row and on the extreme left is a young man wearing a gold-embroidered nobleman's gown, and holding a cap with a gold tassel; he sleeps, holding his watch. Behind the undergraduates are elderly fellows wearing wigs; other fat, bewigged Fellows are in the background, on the lecturer's right. On the table lies an open book: 'Lectures on Modern History Dedicated to Tom Sheridan'; beside this is a MS. inscribed 'Lectures for information and Instruction of the Cantab— Patronised by the Marq. of Lansdowne'. The scene is illuminated by rays striking downwards from an inscription:
'- et versate diu, quid ferré recusent,
Quid valeant humeri!' [Horace, 'Art of Poetry', ll. 39-40.
Ponder long what your shoulders refuse, and what they are able to bear.] Below the title :
'All Granta's Nobs,
By sundry Jobs,
- Were brought to hear a Lecture;
But set at naught
Their Lesson taught
- And yawn'd beyond conjecture!'
20 March 1810.
- Production date
Height: 356 millimetres
Width: 250 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', VIII, 1947)
Smyth (1765-1849) was Professor of Modern History at Cambridge from 1807 till his death. He had been tutor to Tom Sheridan and owed his appointment to the influence of (the then) Lord Henry Petty (Lansdowne). His lectures were 'eloquent and thoughtful disquisitions which had long [in 1837] enjoyed great popularity'. Winstanley, 'Early Victorian Cambridge', 1940. See also Gooch, 'Studies in Modern History', 1931, pp. 303-5. His 'Lectures on Modern History', 1840, were dedicated to the Marquis of Lansdowne. He was a wit and a conversationalist, and very popular.
Grego, 'Gillray', p. 370. Wright and Evans, No. 574. Reprinted, 'G.W.G.', 1830.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
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