- Museum number
- Object: A Peep at a Peer - or the Guildford [sic] High Mettled Racer.
Satire on the trial of Queen Caroline. A scene in the garden of Caroline's villa: Frederick North, Lord Guilford is shown riding a bucking ass whipped on by his servant dressed as an 'oriental' and saying "My master and I are both Greeks"; Caroline stands in the background to left with Victorine, daughter of her chamberlain Bartolommeo Bergami, who exclaims, "Only look - how he kicks!!" to which the queen replies, "Yes, yes, child - Many will be upset before it's over."; to the right is a grotto with a weather vane topped by a head wearing a fool's cap, the arrow lettered, "Non mi Recordo". In the foreground, left, is an orange tree standing for the queen's chastity, and on the right, a pineapple bush standing for George IV's decadence. 1820
- Production date
Height: 236 millimetres
Width: 343 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Explanatory notes provided by Antoinette Tomsett:
The print was sold at one shilling with Fairburn's three-volume account, "The Whole Proceedings of the Trial of Her Majesty Caroline Amelia Elizabeth, Queen of England for an alleged 'Adulterous Intercourse' with Bartolomeo Bergami".
In 1815 the exiled Caroline of Brunswick purchased the Villa d'Este on Lake Como. Lord Guilford visited her in November of that year and in 1820 gave evidence at the hearing of the Bill of Pains and Penalites ('the trial of Queen Caroline') that there had been nothing improper in her behaviour towards members of her household. However, the prosecution implied that there had been an 'encounter' between the queen and Lord Guilford's Greek servant in the grotto of the Villa d'Este; according to the Morning Chronicle (6 October 1820) Guilford stated that he had ridden the queen's donkey through the grounds; when asked whether he had said that he saw the queen and his servant walking together, he replied that he did not recall having said so echoing what had become a catch-phrase in reports of the trial: "Non mi recordo", spoken repeatedly by Teodoro Majocchi, a servant of the queen, under cross-examination by Lord Brougham acting for the defence.
"A Peep at the Peers" was a pamphlet written by William Cobbett in August 1820 listing the name of every peer with his income and details of alleged corruption and cuckoldry; Guilford was said to have received £70,000 over 40 years from his post as Chamberlain of the Exchequer.
"The High-Mettled Racer" was a popular song written by Charles Dibdin in 1785 telling the life of a racehorse who ends his days as a hack for hire; Dibdin's son, Thomas, had adapted the lyrics for an equestrian pantomime at Astley's Amphiteheatre in 1815.
A "Greek" was contemporary slang for a card-sharper or cheat.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number