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The Duke of Wellington

The Duel in Cartoons

Caricature of WellingtonCaricature of WellingtonWellington was a favourite subject of satirists and cartoonists, especially during his later, sometimes controversial, political career.

The period of the foundation of King's College - the 1820s and 1830s - constituted the high water mark of an age of great caricaturists who included George Cruikshank and William Heath.

Their cartoons often combined biting political satire with comment on social mores, domestic and foreign affairs, and among their favourite targets were royalty and government figures.

Wellington's decision to grant Catholic emancipation resulted in the publication of a large number of invariably hostile cartoons detailing Wellington's alleged undermining of the constitution and supposed self-aggrandisement.

Most implied that Wellington was in league with Rome and showed him in attendance on the Pope, profiting from the Roman Catholic Church, or in the process of browbeating a reluctant George IV into granting royal assent to his policies.

Another patron of King's College, the Home Secretary, Robert Peel, who had also done an about turn on the question of Irish relief, was depicted as the youthful, impish and mischievous assistant of the Prime Minister in the wreaking of the protestant constitution of 1688.

William Heath and The Field of Battersea

Two contemporary engravings portray the Battersea duel: The Field of Battersea by William Heath and King's Colledge To Wit by Thomas Howell Jones.

The Field of BatterseaThe Field of BatterseaHeath (1795-1840), who often published under the pseudonym 'Paul Pry', was possibly a former captain in the Dragoons and was described by a contemporary critic as 'facile and profuse, unscrupulous and clever'.

Heath's earliest work was as an illustrator of colour plate books, notably on military themes, and he edited one of the earliest caricature magazines, Northern Looking Glass, between 1825 and 1826.

The pinnacle of his career, however, coincided with the publication of the duel print, in the late 1820s, when he concentrated on political cartoons.

The Field of Battersea depicts Wellington as a lobster, a disparaging nickname for a British Army soldier, wearing a rosary and monk's robes and Hume is shown on the grass.

A notice hangs from a tree advertising, 'Battersea Shooting Grounds Grand Pigeon Match'.

Thomas Jones and King's Colledge To Wit

King's Colledge To WitKing's Colledge To Wit

King's Colledge To Wit shows a self confident Wellington. Hume is shown standing next to his medical case. Falmouth and Hardinge play a lesser part in the scene. White drapery on the signpost is shown to be the handkerchief mistakenly returned to Winchilsea, which almost became the cause of renewed conflict between the aristocratic duellists.

The duel also featured as a minor theme in several other contemporary prints. The Winchilsea Hermit, for example, satirises the Earl's growing political isolation and rumoured threat to quit the House of Lords over the Catholic relief legislation.

He is depicted as a hermit beside a pair of pistols and an open book entitled, 'The Battle of Battersea: A Religious Tale'.

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