The Pic Nic Society was a fashionable theatrical club founded in London in 1802, which attracted various decadent aristocrats....and also the attention of satirists.
The man and the woman sitting in the ornate stocks in the centre are Colonel Greville and Lady Buckinghamshire. Yes, its Albinia again (see "Faro's Daughters"
above). The first performance by the Society was a comedy set in Spain under the Moors, hence the Moorish costumes.
As players at an unlicensed theatre
these amateur actors colud potentially be threatened with vagrancy proceedings, which is why the satirist has depicted them in the stocks: "The new and elegant
St Giles cage. Erected on purpose for the dillitanti theatrical society." (1802) by Charles Williams.
A forerunner to the IRA, the Fenians strove for the establishment of an independent Irish Republic in
the 19th and early 20th centuries. They were either freedom fighters or terrorists, depending on your point of view. |
This cartoon was published in Punch (a British magazine) on 21 October 1865. At that time, the Fenian movement was relatively new and was
merely agitating for political change. In the cartoon the Fenians are being discussed in patronising tones by a bishop and a John Bull-like
beadle, both recognisable establishment figures. The Fenians in the stocks are portrayed as uncouth savages, tapping in to British prejudice
towards the Irish at that time.
The British government began to take the Fenians far more seriously following an armed uprising in 1867. When that failed, the Fenians began
a terrorist campaign of bombings and political assassinations. Following the establishment of an independent Irish Republic in 1922, this
terrorist campaign continued sporadically throughout the 20th century. The aim was to achieve independence for Northern Ireland, which remained
under British rule.
In previous centuries, it would have been difficult to distinguish between a genuine doctor and a quack
doctor, as the level of medical knowledge was generally abysmal. Many people would entrust their care to a village “wise woman”, rather than
turn to the medical practitioner. Doctors were expensive, and their remedies were as likely to kill as cure. |
Things started to improve in the 19th century and, in 1858, the UK Parliament passed the Medical Act which provided for a register of qualified
doctors. The Act also attempted to regulate the unqualified and unscrupulous “quacks” who often promoted their dubious cures on the streets, or
in newspapers and magazines.
The threat of prosecution did little to deter the sale of unlicensed patent medicines (then and now), and the gullible continued to be taken in
by extravagant claims to cure almost everything. At best these medicines were harmless placebos; at worst they were actively poisonous. It was
not unknown for some of these cures to contain lead, arsenic and other proven toxins.
This cartoon was published on 17 December 1864, and depicts a quack doctor in the pillory. In addition to the traditional vegetables and dead
cats, the quack is also being pelted with his own dubious medicines.
The Dreyfus affair was a political scandal that divided France from its inception in 1894 until its resolution
in 1906. It involved the conviction for treason in November 1894 of Captain Alfred Dreyfus (pictured), a young French artillery officer of Alsatian Jewish
descent. Sentenced to life imprisonment for allegedly having communicated French military secrets to the German Embassy in Paris, Dreyfus was
sent to the penal colony at Devil's Island in French Guiana, where he spent almost five years. |
Two years later, in 1896, evidence came to light identifying a French Army major named Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy as the real culprit. After
high-ranking military officials suppressed the new evidence, a military court unanimously acquitted Esterhazy after the second day of his trial.
The Army accused Dreyfus of additional charges based on false documents. Word of the military court's framing of Dreyfus and of an attendant
cover-up began to spread, chiefly owing to “J’accuse”, a vehement open letter published in a Paris newspaper in January 1898 by the notable
writer Émile Zola. Progressive activists put pressure on the government to reopen the case.
In this cartoon, the French generals who had attempted to frame Dreyfus (ostensibly for anti-semitic reasons) are in stocks and pillories,
exposed to international condemnation. Their disgrace is being viewed by characters representing all the nations of the world, with Uncle Sam
and John Bull prominently in the foreground.
In 1899, Dreyfus was brought to France for another trial. The intense political and judicial scandal that ensued divided French society between
those who supported Dreyfus those who condemned him. The new trial resulted in another conviction and a 10-year sentence, but Dreyfus was given
a pardon and set free.
Eventually, all the accusations against Alfred Dreyfus were demonstrated to be baseless. In 1906, Dreyfus was exonerated and reinstated as a
major in the French Army. He served during the whole of World War I, ending his service with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.
In the Interest of Labor and Morality
This is an illustration by Louis Dalrymple which was published in "Puck" magazine on 16 October 1895. It ridicules the puritanical approach taken by
the authorities at the time, particularly in regard to trading on Sundays.|
The picture shows, on the left, many businessmen and women in stocks and pillories for such offences as "serving guests wine on Sunday", "for shaving on
Sunday", "for delivering ice on Sunday", "for selling a glass of beer on Sunday", "for blacking shoes on Sunday", and "for working the growler on Sunday";
a notice states "Behold the Punishment of the Wicked Sabbath Breaker. Let All Evil Doers Beware".
On the right is a group of New York legislators dressed as puritans, including Lieut. Governor Charles T. "Saxton", Thomas C. "Platt", Jacob M. "Patterson",
Hamilton "Fish", Frederick S. "Gibbs", Warner "Miller", Governor Levi P. "Morton", Chauncey M. "Depew" and Jacob S. "Fassett".
The caption underneath the drawing says: "The glorious revival of blue Sundays, stocks and pillories, that our good Republican Puritans are trying to bring about".
Citation: Bos, Carole "To the Pillory "In the Interest of Labor and Morality"" AwesomeStories.com. Mar 16, 2016.
Anticipations for the Pillory
In 1805 Lady Charlotte Douglas (pictured) made a number of accusations against Princess Caroline, the wife of the future King George IV. Lady Douglas alleged that Princess Caroline was an adulteress, and that her adopted son was a bastard from an illicit affair. Lady Douglas also claimed that Princess Caroline had been rude about the royal family, and had touched her in an inappropriately sexual way. A secret commission investigated these claims and found no substance to them. No action was taken against Lady Douglas, possibly to avoid further scandal.
In 1813 Lady Douglas reiterated these allegations in writing, and swore an oath to their veracity. This sparked yet more outrage, mainly against Lady Douglas as Princess Caroline was popular with the public. The punishment for perjury was the pillory, so Lady Douglas should have been publicly pilloried for making false allegations under oath. But once again the matter was swept under the carpet as a damage limitation exercise. However public opinion was in no doubt that Lady Douglas should have stood in the pillory.
The cartoon depicts a pillory outside Montagu House, the residence of Princess Caroline. The upper half of the pillory is being raised in readiness for Lady Douglas, who can be seen on the platform surrounded by a festive crowd.
The speech bubbles are numerous and hard to read, but here are a few examples. A woman holds out her apron to collect mud (or horse manure) shovelled up by a man who says: "Give her enough! She wants a mask to hide her shameless face." A woman with a large basket on her arm cries: "Buy my nice Pillory Nuts! My Warm Douglas gingerbread." A man with a wooden leg stands beside his pannier-laden donkey shouting: "Fine high flavour'd rotten Eggs sixpence a hundred!" A man holds out his hat, saying, "Lets have a hat full! a rotten Egg is a good antagonist to a corrupt heart." A boy holds out his hat, saying, "master give us a few I'm a desperate good marksman." In Montagu House, Princess Caroline looks out on the spectacle, saying: "This is my hour of Triump [sic]".
Petruchio's Patent Family Bedstead
A cartoon by Thomas Tegg, published in 1815. This was part of a tradition of "humorous" images of "tyrannical" wives which continued through the 18th century and into the 19th century. The picture is based upon "The Taming of the Shrew", portraying the husband as Petruchio who is taming his errant wife. Above the bed is a sign "Love Honour and Obey", a reminder of the wife's marriage vows.
Although it may appear wildly misogynistic to modern eyes, this cartoon is very much a product of its time. An age when a wife was basically her husband's property, and she was expected to obey him. A married woman was not allowed to own any property in her own right, and she could be lawfully beaten by her husband.
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Last modified 1 October 2016.
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