- Museum number
Object: "The Procession of the Flitch of Bacon."
Series: Political Sketches
No. 669 and 670. A procession moving along a street from right towards left, led by young girls scattering flowers before a couple on horseback (Prince Albert and Queen Victoria), attended by two men (Duke of Wellington and Lord Palmerston), and followed by three men (Lords Melbourne and Normanby, Sir Robert Peel), three riders (Lord Russell, Duchess of Kent, Lord Stanley), a man on foot in background (Sir James Graham), and three men on foot in foreground (Archbishop of Canterbury, Dukes of Cambridge and Sussex); two men looking down from a garden wall in background at right (Lord Howick and Charles Wood). 11 February 1841
Lithograph, printed in black and fawn inks
- Production date
Height: 275 millimetres
Width: 470 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Print cut; for the remainder see, 1868,0808.,11999 describing that in front of the Queen there is: four musicians, men playing the oboe (Lord Duncannon), pipe and tabor (Lord Morpeth), bagpipes (Lord Brougham), serpent (Sir Francis Burdett), a man on horseback, carrying the flitch (Lord Cottenham)
For preliminary drawings see 1882,1209.492 and 1882,1209.493
Text from 'An Illustrative Key to the Political Sketches of H.B.', London 1844:
The subscribers to this sketch were presented, at the time of its publication, with a paper containing the following explanation of the subject.
"The relic of old English manners which this Engraving is designed to illustrate is too well known to demand any minute details upon the present occasion. From a record preserved in Dr. Plot's 'History of Staffordshire' it would appear, that in the reign of Edward III, one Sir Philip de Somerville held sundry manors of the Earls of Lancaster, lords of the Honour of Tutbury, on the condition that he should 'fynde, mainteinge, and susteingne one bacon flyke hanging in his hall at Winchenovre, redy arrayde at all tymes of the year bot Lent;' to be given to every man and woman, a year and a day after their marriage, who might be enabled to declare upon oath that during that period they had never on any occasion repented them of their contract; nor desired to change their partners for others, 'farer ne fowler, richer ne poorer, ne for others descended of greater lynage; sleeping or waking, at no time;' and moreover, that if they had been still single, they would have chosen each other 'before all persons in the world.'
"Dugdale, however, ascribes to Robert Fitzwalter, 'living long beloved of King Henry, son of King John,' the origin of this old English custom. Having betaken himself in his latter days to deeds of charity, he gave bountiful alms to the poor, kept great hospitality in his Priory at Dunmow, and, in the warmth of his benevolence, provided that reward for conjugal fidelity and good humour which has been so often celebrated in song and story, in connexion with his favoured birth-place.
"The above account of the origin of the custom of the Flitch of Bacon, agrees with that which is given in the additions to 'Camden's Britannia.'
"It is well known to every lover of the Fine Arts, that this subject has already been treated by the celebrated Thomas Stothard, R.A., and that a very beautiful engraving has been made from the same by Mr. Watt; but it is hoped that the manner in which a Parody of Mr. Stothard's Picture is handled by 'H.B.,' will not be found devoid of novelty. The first, and by far the greatest, share of attention is claimed by the Bride; but, nevertheless, to prevent all chance of confusion, it will be better to begin with the beginning. The cavalcade is not very numerous. It is preceded by four musicians, who, if they contribute nothing to the harmony of the occasion, are accounted, separately, good performers on their peculiar instruments. The farthest, who plays a kind of 'tenuis avena', something like a modern hautboy, has learned his art like the shepherd in Virgil - 'Sub tegmine fagi;' for in him it is easy to recognize Lord Duncannon, the first Commissioner of the 'Woods and Forests.' The second (Lord Morpeth), who is reported to be a pupil of a well-known Irish performer on the Union Pipes, plays the pipe and tabor with so much glee, that he cannot refrain from dancing to his own music. The third (Lord Brougham), is a composer of great celebrity, and is chiefly known for his variations of the air of 'Buy a Broom:' and the fourth (Sir Francis Burdett), playing a serpent, was in former times, as sure of an engagement at Covent Garden, as the season was sure to come round, but since the decline of the regular drama, he has been obliged to take to the provinces, and has at present, a good engagement in North Wiltshire. Close behind the musicians follows the Lord Chancellor, Lord Cottenham, who, next to the bride and bridegroom, is the most important person in the procession. He rides, not like one whom fortune alone raised to eminence, which he is all unqualified to hold, but evidently keeps his 'seat' with 'judgment.' In his arms he bears the Flitch, which may be termed the ensign or great seal of his office; and surely he is great as a Lord Chancellor, for Bacon is his predecessor. To him succeed two young ladies, whose pleasant occupation is that of 'herb-women' in this coronation of domestic felicity. They are throwing flowers on the route with a degree of grace and native elegance which betoken them of gentle blood. They are but a few steps in advance of the Bride and Bridegroom, who, mounted on the same horse, the 'observed of all observers' are pacing on in that 'sober certainty of waking bliss,' so likely to have arisen in their minds from the contemplation of their favoured condition and recent triumph. The youth, for he seems but on the verge of manhood, whom it were superfluous to name, is probably reassuring his shrinking consort of the durability of the affection to which she appears so devoutly to cling; whilst she, on her part, although surrounded by friends and dependants, can scarcely conceal the confusion which overpowers her in being made the cynosure of so many wondering eyes. Never were the qualities which embellish the female character, and the dignity which belongs to the most exalted rank, united in a form more distinguished for grace and beauty - she reigns in every heart, and every tongue proclaims her Queen. Enviable indeed is the lot of the favoured youth who rides before her. His mien bespeaks him of high lineage and noble blood; and the favour with which his lovely bride regards him is the best pledge of his merit.
"The foremost of those who follow the bride on foot is one of her guardians who was present at her birth, and is the oldest, and truest, and most tried friend of her family. The wreath around his brow gives him the look of the great Caesar; and truly he is a soldier of no little renown - 'The Hero of a Hundred Fights.' Veteran as he is, his step seems firm and his carriage bold and upright. He appears to attract the special admiration of the pedestrian on his right, Lord Palmerston, whose attention is not so much fixed on the subject of the procession as on 'foreign affairs.'
"Behind these two persons is an interesting group on horseback. The most conspicuous among whom is the wearer of the hat and cloak, Lord Melbourne. He also is one of the guardians of the Bride; and, though not present at her birth, appears to take as much interest in her welfare as if his own were blended with it. He regards the happy couple as if he had been in some degree instrumental in effecting their union, and had the best reason to be satisfied with the result. Most probably he is intended for the 'Lord of the Bride's Treasury.'
"Next behind him come two persons, who are placed together for no other reason than that the farther one, the Marquess of Normanby, turning round his face with a self-complacent smile, is now the major domo, or manager of the 'Home Department' in the Bride's establishment; and the nearer one, Sir Robert Peel, who looks straight forward and smiles not, formerly held the same post in the establishment, when the Bride's uncle was the head of the family.
"The youthful-looking rider of the high horse, Lord John Russell, has the bold and confident appearance of one who is accustomed to lead those whom it requires great address to manage. At the same time that he takes care of such of the Bride's possessions and estates as lie at a distance from home, he takes an active part in regulating the proceedings of the under-tenants of the 'Commons'
"On such an occasion the mother of the Bride would not be absent, and accordingly she is seen occupying a promi-nent place in the procession, and regarding the spectacle with that heartfelt pride and gratification which mothers feel who witness the married happiness of their daughters, and trace it to the affectionate care which they have bestowed on their education.
"The two persons who close the cavalcade appear to have joined it rather for their own amusement than having any direct connexion with it. The bigger one Sir J. Graham, looks as bold and as powerful as a 'Cumberland Yeoman' and the other, Lord Stanley, wearing a garland, gives no attention to the scene before him, but is making observations on the by-standers. It is not difficult to discern in his countenance, the appearance of the driver of the 'Derby Dilly.'
"The procession appears to be closed by three personages on foot; - one of them, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is the good priest who officiated at the marriage of the happy pair; the others are, no doubt, two of the Bride's uncles, and seem lost in admiration of the scene, while
'Marvelling at Virtue's rich reward.'
But the two figures who are looking over the garden wall must not be overlooked; - they are members of the family, who might have claimed each a place in the procession but for some insubordination of conduct."
- Not on display
- Associated names
Representation of: Sir Robert Peel
Representation of: Sir James Robert George Graham
Representation of: Edward Geoffrey Smith Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby
Representation of: Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
Representation of: John William Ponsonby, 4th Earl of Bessborough
Representation of: George William Frederick Howard, 7th Earl of Carlisle
Representation of: Albert, Prince Consort
Representation of: Queen Victoria
Representation of: Henry Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston
Representation of: William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne
Representation of: Constantine Henry Phipps, 1st Marquess of Normanby
Representation of: Lord John Russell (later John Russell, 1st Earl Russell of Kingston Russell)
Representation of: Victoria, Duchess of Kent
Representation of: William Howley, Archbishop of Canterbury
Representation of: Prince Adolphus Frederick, Duke of Cambridge
Representation of: Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex
Representation of: Henry George Grey, 3rd Earl Grey
Representation of: Sir Charles Wood, 1st Viscount Halifax
Associated with: Thomas Stothard
- Associated titles
Associated Title: Flitch of Bacon
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number