- Museum number
- Object: The Westminster Election 1796
A design in outline crowded with figures almost all fully characterized and probably portraits. The foreground is filled with Westminster electors of note, interspersed with street sellers. Behind, and about on a level with the hats of the crowd, is the floor of the hustings, a timber structure backed by St. Paul's church; it recedes diagonally from the spectator (right to left). It is divided into seven sections by six posts on which are boards with the names of the Westminster parishes. The two boards on the extreme left are without inscriptions and evidently belong to the two small parishes of St. Mary-le-Strand and St. Clement Danes. Next is 'St Martin's'; above the board is the state of the poll: 'Hon C J Fox 4625 \ Sr A Gardner 4496 \ H Tooke Es 2560'. To the left of this post Gardner, in naval uniform, wearing his hat, addresses the crowd with folded arms. The other two candidates stand hat in hand: Horne Tooke on the left, Fox standing with his left arm round the next post, that of 'St Pauls & St Martins Le Grand'. On the right, on the hustings, are many persons, among whom a man wearing spectacles resembles 'Liberty' Hall, the secretary of the Whig Club. The last post (right) has the board of 'St Anns'. At the end (right) a man wearing a cocked hat leans against the wall, he has some resemblance to Captain Morris. A sailor has climbed up the hustings, and looks down, grinning.
The crowd in the Piazza is many ranks deep; it chiefly consists of well-dressed men, especially on the right. On the left the crowd recedes in perspective to the house next the church, the piazza and street being densely packed. Carriages and horses are visible above the heads of the people. A rider follows a high gig on which is a coronet. Two coaches pass (right to left), both with coronets on the hammer-cloth, and containing attractive women wearing feathers. In the foreground on the extreme left is a stand for spectators, a high timber structure roughly put together (one was blown down on 30 May, 'Lond. Chron.', 1 June). Its occupants look down at the hustings opposite; a ragged boy has climbed up to a projecting beam.
Below, and on the extreme left, a fashionably dressed and very ugly woman walks arm in arm with a man away from the hustings; she is the only woman in the crowd, street-sellers excepted. A dwarfish grinning boy holds out a sheaf of papers: 'Horne Tooke Esr Speech'. Behind him a man threatens with his fists a rough man riding an ass with paniers; the crowd is otherwise orderly, though a constable (perhaps Townsend) near the right of the hustings holds up his staff. A handsome man in riding-dress (left) is a conspicuous figure. Next is a ragged man with a sheaf of walking-sticks and a basket of broadsides and ribbons. The only persons wearing favours are two women: one, in the centre foreground, holds out a sheaf of 'The Sp[ee]ches of Hon C Fox Sr Alan Gardner Horne Tooke Esq', her favour is 'Fox for Ever'. The other, old and ugly, offers papers to a very fat man wearing a cocked hat, her large favour is 'Horne Tooke for ever'.
A prominent figure (right), very corpulent, in profile to the left, wearing spectacles, resembles the Marquis of Buckingham (cf. BMSat 8641). A stout man in top-boots holds a cheque: 'Drummond . . .' with the signature 'J. Gregory'. Behind him stands Whitefoord in profile to the left looking through a glass as in BMSat 8169. In front of the sailor is Hanger, looking to the left, his bludgeon under his arm. A head in profile to the left, wearing a cocked hat, to the right of Hanger, resembles Grafton. In the second row the Duke of Norfolk (right) turns his head in profile to the right. Above the crowd (right) rise the head and shoulders of the artist, Dighton, drawing; he rests his paper on a low penthouse attached to the end of the hustings. All the men, except those few specified as wearing cocked hats, wear round hats. On the gable-end of the hustings (right) election bills are posted. 1796
- Production date
- 1800-1821 (c.)
Height: 593 millimetres (cropped)
Width: 783 millimetres (cropped)
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', VII, 1942)
A realistic representation of the election. The figures indicate the poll on Saturday, 11 June 1796, so that the scene is probably the closing day, the 13th: Fox 5,160, Gardner 4,814, Horne Tooke 2,819. (These totals are falsified in BMSat 9508.) The orderly scene should be compared with Westminster election prints of 1780, 1784, 1788, and in later years. The candidates had agreed that election favours should not be distributed. In spite of the compromise (see BMSat 8813) political issues were hotly urged: Fox asked the electors to demonstrate their opposition to 'a war that beggars you' and 'bills that enslave you' (see BMSat 8687, &c). Horne Tooke was more demagogic, and his speeches appear to have been still more popular. Gardner, who said, 'I am not accustomed to speak in public, nor am I master of that eloquence which the other candidates possess', was much guyed by Tooke. Jordan's 'Collection of all the addresses and Speeches . . .', 1796. See BMSat 8813, &c. Cf. Dighton's water-colour of the 1788 election, vol. vi. 515.
According to Dorothy George, this etching was re-worked by Henry Sadd, published in 1839 (BMSat 8815.A). For the mezzotint, see 1937,0508.37.
- Not on display
- Associated events
- Associated Event: Westminster Election 1796
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number