- Museum number
- Object: The new Union-Club.
A design based on Gillray's 'The Union Club', No. 9699 (1801), the roistering fraternizers being English and Adfricans, in place of English and Irish. The chairman's raised throne with its canopy is on the extreme left, at the head of the table which extends to the right across the design. The throne is an infant's chair, or commode, supported on a round tray based on two casks, one above the other. Wilberforce has risen from the chair, so far as the front bar will permit, his chairman's hammer held between flexed knees. He grasps an arm of his chair, and raises his glass high in his left hand to give the toast: "Brothers, I'll give you the "Black Joke" !! [a lewd song] with three times Three!!! up standing & uncovered!!!" Below him, and on his right is Stoddart, bottle in one hand, a broken decanter in the other, seated on the lap of a black woman who leans back to drink from a decanter. He is identified by a paper projecting from his coat-pocket: 'The New Times by Dr Slop— Rediant [sic] Saturnalia regna'. His legs, in fashionable Hessian boots, rest on the head and shoulder of a black man seated tipsily on the floor. Beside him is a paper: 'With Black Brown & fair I've sported 'tis true!!' Opposite him, and on the chairman's left, is a black man dressed as a dandy, smoking a cheroot and turning his eyes to the left. He is identified by a paper: 'Prince Saunder . . . ABC in Black [le]tter'. Standing between him and Wilberforce are a grinning black man and a white woman, holding between them their naked infant, divided vertically into halves, black and white. Behind the white parent is a black woman smoking a pipe and suckling an infant whose (white) body is dappled with black spots. Beside her stands a man like a quaker in caricature, extending his right arm and shouting: "Hail! piebald pledge of Love." Another black woman, wearing a broad-brimmed hat, clasps him amorously from behind, grasping a bottle. Seated at the table with his back to the black prince is James Stephen, with a severe and dignified expression, but with black smudges on his face and with a black woman seated on his lap; he ladles punch while she blackens a cork in a guttering candle. She grins at him, saying, "Really now Massa Teven you right say be sham'd you own Color! you no know how amsum you bis look black now!!" At the near side of the table Zachary Macaulay is seated with his back to Stoddart, grasping a fat black woman who sits on his knee; he wears spectacles and looks down; she holds a full glass, and holds his chin, trying to turn his face up, saying, "I say Massa' Cauley why you nebber look a body in a face?" His feet rest on a fat black woman lying on her back and across a black infant, while a little black boy pours wine into her mouth. Behind Macaulay's companion a well-dressed black man stands on the table making a speech to which no one listens, except a man whose hair and coat-collar are being set on fire by one little black boy, while another picks his pocket of a letter addressed 'Smith Esqr MP', showing that he is William Smith (1756-1835), M.P. for Norwich, a leading Abolitionist.
In the right part of the design, round the lower end of the table, wild rollicking merges into riot, and fighting replaces amity. Billy Waters, a black sailor with long flowing white hair and a wooden leg and wearing a cocked hat, plays a fiddle and dances on the top of a cask behind and above the table. Behind him are other black musicians with cymbals, tambourine, and trumpet. On the table is a pyramid of children fighting savagely for the dessert. Behind (right), a confused fight is in progress. A (? white) sailor, with the model of a ship in full sail fastened on the crown of his hat, fights with a black sailor whose cap is decorated with a double-headed eagle; each uses a crutch as weapon. Two furious black men fight each other, each brandishing an infant, apparently parti-coloured, held by the leg as a weapon of offence. A tea-pot, a broken bottle, and a bottle of 'Day & Martin Blacking' fly into the air. Regardless of the battle immediately behind him, a fat, drink-blotched parson (? Dr. Parr) sits at the table smoking, and clapping his wig on to the head of a black friend; he says: "You look devilish well in it I assure you." Near them and on the extreme right stands a fashionably dressed man wearing a top-hat; he holds a paper: 'Rodgers on reweing' [sic]. In the foreground (right) a black sailor violently assaults an elderly English sailor, who has lost both arms and one leg; he kicks him violently and drives a broom against his back. Under the Englishman's legs two children compete for bones with a dog whose collar is inscribed 'Mungo'. Behind (right) a turbaned Lascar drinks with a black woman. In front of the table and under it are the completely intoxicated: a black footman vomits into the open mouth of an unconscious (?) quaker. Two black women fight; one lies on the ground holding an infant which sucks at the pendent breasts of her assailant who kneels across her.
The canopy of the chairman's seat is decorated with clasped hands, irradiated as in No. 9699, but one is black, the other white. Above, in place of Britannia and Erin, a black woman kisses a white woman. A projecting canopy with curtains replaces carved pilasters; on this is a fringe of grotesque little creatures, black figures in relief; they carouse; one puts on a mitre, another wears a crown and holds a sceptre, the law and the army are also represented. One of the casks supporting Wilberforce's chair is labelled 'Sweetmeats &c from Hayti WWMP N° 66'; the upper cask is 'N° 65'. Behind the chair is a notice-board headed 'Rule', but with the text blacked out. Beside it is a 'List of Toasts The King the Royal Family sitting; King Henry of Hyti to be drunk with 3 times 3'. On the ground are books:  'Trial of John Church for a Black Act'; the opposite page is - [scored out]' Magazine'.  'an account of the Black Hole in Calcutta'. Candles have burned low in a cut-glass chandelier which indicates the middle of the table. The wall which forms a background is covered with pictures (left to right):  (the largest) 'Apotheosis of W-W'. Wilberforce, puny and naked, with butterfly wings, and arms ecstatically extended, is borne upwards by two burly black angels; they are irradiated by light from a crown and surrounded by clouds and (black) cherubs' heads, winged, chanting, and grotesque.  A hand emerges from clouds holding a pair of scales, unevenly balanced; in the lower sits a white planter quietly smoking a pipe; in the other sits a black man, with three Englishmen (seemingly Wilberforce, Stephen, and Zachary Macaulay) trying frantically to pull it downwards. Below this is  the 'Garden of Hesperides'. Four Englishmen (probably the previous three and William Smith) tread on the bowed backs of black men forming an ascending slope against the trunk of a tree, and are thus able to reach the golden apples.  'Paul Preaching at Athens before the Greeks' [cf. No. 13478]. Paul stands above his audience, declaiming: "But if any provide not for his own & specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith & is worse than an infidel—1st Epistle of Paul to Timothy 5th cap 8th v."  Street scene; a coachman on his box is assailed by a black woman with a cascade of filth.  A portrait of the 'Hottentot Venus' (Saartjie Baartman) smoking a pipe as in No. 11577, &c.  Companion designs in one frame: (above) a black Devil standing among the flames of Hell threatens with his trident a white man who is succoured by a white angel. (Below) The Devil is white, the man and the angel are black.  Washerwomen (one of whom resembles Wilberforce) try to wash a black woman in a tub (a usual symbol of labour in vain, cf. No. 11272).  A tiny copy of No. 13043.  'The King of Hayti & his Black-guards'. An African monarch, crowned and holding a sceptre, sprawls across the laps of two women. His throne is flanked by two files of black troops facing each other at attention. Below the title: 'Being a Representation of what took place at a celebrated Dinner, given by a celebrated — Society. — Vide—Mr M—r—t's Pamphlet entitled "More Thoughts" & &c' [i.e. 'still on the State of the West India Colonies and the proceedings of the African Institution with observations on the speech of J. Stephen at the meeting of that Society 26th March 1817'. B.M.L. 8155. e. 39].
- Production date
Height: 305 millimetres (printed image)
Width: 472 millimetres (printed image)
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', IX, 1949)
Despite its ribald extravagance this is a serious attack on the Abolitionists from the standpoint of the West Indian planters. The pamphlet (a printed extract from which is sometimes found with the print) is by Joseph Marryat (father of Frederick), M.P. for Sandwich, leader of the West India Interest in Parliament, and thus the chief opponent of the philanthropic African Institution (founded 1807). The planters and the Africa merchants maintained that the philanthropy of the Abolitionists was a mere cloak for motives of gain (the thesis of the 'Hesperides' picture). Stephen, Wilberforce's brother-in-law, was the most vehement of the Abolitionists. See 'Camb. Hist. of the British Empire', ii, 1940, ch. ix, &c. Hayti (San Domingo), the negro republic which had revolted from France, here stands for a black empire founded on insurrection and the massacre of whites. No. 8793 by Gillray is a similar (ribald) attack on Wilberforce, and in No. 9685, 'Justice and Humanity at Home', he is depicted as ruthlessly insensitive to abuses in England, the theme of picture No. 4. Cf. No. 13193.
Reid, No. 898. Cohn, No. 1785.
For further discussion, see Temi Odumosu, "Africans in English Caricature 1769-1819: Black Jokes, White Humour" (Harvey Miller) 2017, chapter 4, "A Beggar's Brawl: The 'New Union Club' (1819) and Post-Abolition Politics in London," pp. 167-197.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2005/6 Oct-Jan, Manchester Art Gallery, 'Black Victorians', no.33
2006 Jan-April, Birmingham City Art Gallery, 'Black Victorians', no.33
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number