- Museum number
- Object: Patent puppets alias the Hertford fantoccini
An Irish copy of a plate pub. Fores, 6 Apr. 1812 (A. de R. xii. 48). Lady Hertford (left) and John Bull face each other in front of a puppet theatre, whose small scale is shown by its relation to these two large three-quarter length figures. Lady Hertford's raised left arm is behind the curtain (left) from which her hand emerges, holding the four strings attached to the wrists and toes of Perceval, the only puppet on the stage, whose background is a realistic view of the screen of Carlton House. He wears his Chancellor of the Exchequer's gown, and bows deprecatingly, as if making a speech. A paper, 'Delicate Investigation', projects from his pocket. In her right arm are four puppets (left to right): (?) Wellesley, (?) Buckingham (see No. 11861), (?) Temple, Sidmouth. Behind her head two discarded puppets hang perpendicularly, back to back: Grenville (left) and Grey. On the proscenium: 'Regency Theatre', in large letters with a scroll: 'Nunc aut Nunquam'. John Bull, a yokel in a smock, holding his hat and cudgel, scratches his head, exclaiming: "Laud! Laud! be they all your own meaking what a clever Leady thee must be. whoy there beant such another in all Hertford." She answers: "Yes Jonny they are all manufactured by me & my Son. I can make them do any thing, the[y] work so easy, only Perceive all the gestures of this Lawyer like Gentleman with the delicate investigation in his pocket, he is my principal actor & always ready to take any part—those Grey & Green-vile looking figures behind me are so stiff & stubborn that I cannot do any thing with them, & am obliged to put them aside, Why I have had the Honor of performing before the Prince Regent, & he has given me permission to write up, Performer to his Royal Highness." Her hair is dressed with two circlets simulating a crown, and with the Prince's feathers. She is much décolletée; and on her belt are the words 'Fide et Amo[re]', the Hertford motto. In front of the stage is a playbill: 'Theatre Royal Hertford—The Piece call'd Secret Influence will be continued some time longer, a Revived piece in one Act call'd The Petition Regegted [sic] will be performed in the course of a few days to which will be added the Baggatelle the Cits in the Suds or How can you help it—NB no person permitted to peep behind the Curtain but the Performers.'
A copy of a satire by Williams of 6 April 1182
- Production date
Height: 255 millimetres
Width: 375 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', IX, 1949)
One of many satires on the 'secret influence' of Lady Hertford, see No. 11853, &c., and on the Prince's decision to retain Perceval, see No. 11855. On 26 Mar. the Livery of the City of London drew up a petition expressing their disappointment that the Regency was not to be the 'dawn of a new era' (cf. Nos. 11874, 11894), since no change was made in the Ministry and no reforms were carried out. This the Regent refused to receive with the formalities expected by the Livery, see Nos. 11869, 11887. Cf. No. 11861.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
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