«A Thesis Submitted for the Degree of PhD at the University of Warwick This thesis is made available online and is ...»
H. Berger's criticism of art historians who assume an unproblematic link between pictorial and biographical representation, regarding the image as the window to the archive, raises an important discrepancy between portraiture and satire. He argues that the sitting should be understood as a process of mutual interaction between painter and sitter, one that is thus inherently fashioned and artificial,35 Whilst this is, J. Richardson, 'An Essay on The Theory of Painting' (1715), in The Works of Mr. Jonathon Richardson (London, 1773), p.7. My italics Discourses IV and XI, in Sir J. Reynolds, Discourses on Art (1769-1790), ed. R.R. Wark (1966) (London, 4th edition, 1969), pp.67, 177 35 H. Berger, 'Fictions of the Pose: Facing the Gaze of Early Modem Portraiture', Representations 46 (Spring 1994), especially p.89. The reciprocity of portraiture has also been noted arguably, an accurate analysis of the construction of a portrait, the role of biography in satire is very different. First, the creation of the satirical print is essentially independent from and does not involve the subject of the work. Simultaneously, the representation and the archive are juxtaposed, the latter inspiring the image which, in tum, illustrates that 'history'. Distortion between subject and representation occurs in the artist's selection of elements from the archive and as a result of the light in which she or he chooses to view them.
The mutual reliance of pictorial satires and pamphlets, supposedly of moral intent but rather concerned with the provision of infonnati on, entertainment and titillation, can be reinforced by analysis of the images prompted by the Worsley trial.
The central features of the archetypal print of Mr Bissett gazing on the attractions of his mistress through the window of the bathing house at Maidstone were all taken from textual accounts. The alarm of the maid, the peering visage of Bissett, the husband distinguished by his horns and the crude puns on military jargon were repeated again and again (figs.117, 118, 122 and 124). Similarly, mythological references proliferated throughout both literary and visual material. Lady Worsley dressing in the Bathing House (fig. 122) includes a painting of Susanna bathing in her by Richard Wendorf, Sir Joshua Reynolds: The Painter in Society (London, 1996), especially chapter 4 and Michael Rosenthal, The Art of Thomas Gainsborough: 'A Little Business for the Eye' (New garden, the two elders peering at her over the wall. The witticism of this conceit relies on the discrepancy between the events following the respectively contemporary and historical incidents of voyeurism. Whilst Lady Worsley left the baths in the company of her husband and lover, amused by the escapade, the virtuous Susanna spumed the attempts of her would-be seducers and was consequently put on triaI.36 Meanwhile, A Peep into LADY WIIIIIY'S Seraglio (fig.123) contrasted the main protagonist with Lucretia. A picture of the virtuous Roman Matron, on the verge of stabbing herself rather than face dishonour, ironically hangs above Lady Worsley's bedroom door and its lengthy queue of her paramours. Seymour's promiscuity is thus emphasised through contrast and the poignancy of the satirical intent is enhanced. Once again, such references added to pictorial complexity, necessitating the application of knowledge and thereby enhancing interest. They also implied a schism between ancient morality and contemporary society and thus located such images within the popular discourse of the corruption of the modem age.
The notion of the harem was similarly exploited by the author of The Whiml! I or, The Maidstone Bath. He ironically praised Lady Worsley's desire for a "Male seraglio" as boosting the naval trade "in supplying those Male Seraglios with youths."
This pamphlet also referred to Venus in its dedication, echoing images in which Lady Worsley is depicted in the traditional pose of the Venus Pudica (figs.117 and 118).
However, whilst one hand covers the pubic area according to the classical model, the fact that she fails to bring her other arm across her breasts enhances the impression Haven and London. 1999), p.136. The latter notes that Gerard de Lairesse wrote at length on the subject, suggesting that a good rapport between artist and sitter was conducive to a successful painting.
The same analogy between Lady Worsley and Susanna was employed in a print entitled The Maidstone Bath. or the modern Susanna, published in March 1782 (fig.l18).
that such images functioned as pornography. Finally, The Whim!!! explored an extended comparison between Lady Worsley and Diana and, consequently, between Mr. Bisset and Actaeon, thus evoking the archetypal cuckold who features in many of the pictorial satires. 37 For example, The SHILliNG or the Value of A P... Y, published in February 1782 (fig.124), depicts Lord Worsley recoiling in horror at the outcome of the trial whilst horns sprout from his head. 38 * * * * * Such literary and visual accounts of aristocratic adultery and lewd behaviour helped to promote the already popular and established stereotype of the elite ranks as licentious, idle, extravagant and irresponsible. One narrative of the Worsley case was
announced with the following assertion:
THOSE who are not conversant with the affairs and transactions of what is called the Beau Monde, and who are unacquainted with the vices and dissipation that at present so generally prevail among those to whose lot it hath fallen to move in the higher and more exalted ranks and stations, will probably think the characters of many of the great personages drawn in the The Whim!!! Or, The Maidstone Bath, a Kentish Poetic dedicated to Lady Worsley (London, 1782). pp.ii. iv, especially stanza XIX. See also An Epistle from L---y W---: "Without a blush I gave him time to gaze,! And set his youthful Spirits in a blaze;! Not so chaste Dian by Actaeon seen,! What I exposed, she most contrived to screen."
38 Also, see Anon., Maidstone Whim (8 Mar 1782, The British Museum) following sheets, grossly overcharged. This, however, the author is sorry to
The association between high rank and high levels of uncontrolled and illicit sexual activity was insistently repeated. The Morning Post in 1776, the year of the trial of the Duchess of Kingston, claimed that "the excess to which pleasure and dissipation are now carried amongst the ton exceeds all bounds, particularly among women of quality."40 Assertions such as "CONJUGAL Infidelity is become so general that it is hardly considered as criminal; especially in the fashionable world," or "ADULTERY is become so fashionable, and divorces so frequent, that it may admit of some debate in the polite world whether the first is criminal or the latter dishonourable" were standard. 41 Indeed, the first edition of The Town and Country Magazine, a publication that made a great feature of scandal and intrigue, argued that "the gallantry" of its times would "make a greater eclat in the annals of the polite world" than any preceding "histories of court intrigues."42 The reasons suggested for the perceived iniquities of the great-but-not-so-good were various. Many, including Eliza Haywood and the editors of The Town and
Trials for Adultery. I, p.iii; The Trial of His R.H. the D.ofC. p.iii The Town and Country Magazine; or. Universal Repository of Knowledge. Instruction and Entertainment January 1769, p.13. The same conventions appeared in other genres. In Henry Fielding's novel The History o/Tom Jones (1749), ed. R.P.C. Mutter (Harmondsworth, 1985), p.542, Mrs Fitzpatrick ironically asserts that her noble 'friend' (by inference her keeper) is "almost the only person of high rank, who was entirely constant to the marriage bed." Richard Steele conveyed a similar message in his play, 'The Conscious Lovers, a Comedy' (1722) in The Dramatick Works of the Late Sir Richard Steele (London, 1732), p.63. Sir John Bevil retorts to aspersions on his son's morals: "I can't help saying that what might injure a Citizen's Credit, may be no stain to a Gentleman's honour."
Country Magazine, believed that female education in polite circles was superficial, largely concerned with attaining idle graces and accomplishments and thus incapable of inculcating moral standards. 43 This trope was significantly evoked at the beginning of an account of the Duchess of Kingston's infamous life as a possible explanation for her behaviour. 44 Second, "high living", at least in the view of Wetenhall Wilkes, was an inevitable cause of "high Passions" as "luxury is always attended by LuSt."45 Third on the list of evils was idleness. The author of The Life and Amours of Lady Ann F-LYargued that, whilst the poorer sorts spent their lives engrossed in domestic duties and thus had neither the time nor the inclination to seek alternative pleasures, women such as Lady Foley were able to delegate such duties and thus to indulge in amorous diversions. 46 Similarly, Priscilla Wakefield suggested that "some of the unhappy deviations from conjugal fidelity, which of later years have so often given employment to the gentlemen of Doctors Commons" might well have been avoided had the women concerned busied themselves in fulfilling "the tender duties of the maternal character."47 More specific allegations were made against elite marriages themselves. The supposedly frequent breakdown of conjugal relations within such circles was ascribed to perversion of the power structures of choice and motivation. 48 The Trial of His R.H.
43 E. Haywood, The Female Spectator (1744-6), ed. a.M. Firmager (London. 1993). p.109; The Town and Country Magazine June 1771, p.294 The Life and Memoirs of Elizabeth Chudleigh, p.6 W. Wilkes, A Letter of Genteel and Moral Advice to a Young Lady (1744) (Dublin. 3rd edition. 1751), p.87 The Life and Amours of Lady Ann F-L-Y..., p.21 47 P. Wakefield. Reflections on the Present Condition of the Female Sex; with Suggestions for its Improvement (London, 1798), p.44 See chapter one, passim.
the D. of C. proposed that Lady Grosvenor had been driven to adultery as "her marriage was not a match of her own choice, but strongly recommended to her by her parents."49 However, more commonly, neglect of affection was considered to be the prime reason for such marital debacles. Aristocratic unions were, it was frequently argued, "rather Leagues and Treaties of Alliances and Confederacy than Weddings" and thus naturally productive of "disloyalty, breach of Faith and Honour, and the worst sort of Perjury on both Sides."50 Mr B in Pamela echoed such views, describing a 'typical' marriage between two people of fortune as between two spoilt individuals, in whose decision to wed, "birth, and fortune, are the first motives, affection the last."
The product of such a union was inevitably "separate beds... perhaps elopements, guilty ones sometimes; if not, an unconquerable indifference, possibly aversion."51 These theories informed both the pamphlet and the trial report. The author of the Memoirs of Sir Finical Whimsy justified Lady Worsley's adultery by the lack of affection in her marriage. He claimed that Sir Richard had merely proposed to her in order to pay his debts with her dowry.52 A similar excuse was made on behalf of Lady Grosvenor. The Town and Country explained to its readers that her husband had only
50 D. Defoe, Conjugal Lewdness; or, Matrimonial Whoredom (London, 1727), pp.98, 99 51 S. Richardson, Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded (1740/1), ed. M.A. Doody (Harmondsworth, 1985), pp.463-4 Memoirs of Sir Finical Whimsy, pp.5-6 explained that Worsley's fortune had been bequeathed to distant relatives until he turned twenty-one, by which time he had run up debts to the tune of some £60,000: ''To remove it, a match with a wealthy heiress was recommended, as the most speedy and effectual method." Having made unsuccessful advances to Seymour's elder sister, he turned his attentions to her sibling.
married on account of the deteriorating health consequent upon a life of sexual irregularity.53 The views of the pamphleteers and the prominence they gave to aristocratic cases thus pertained more to social ideals, 'norms' and concerns than to the realities of the domestic and sexual lives of the aristocracy. Conduct writers and preachers often evoked the antithesis to the values they were seeking to promote; lauding love and loyalty in wedlock and thereby condemning disharmony and infidelity. The pamphleteers took this antithetical model, employed in these genres as an abstract notion, and applied it to the individuals under consideration. Thus, the prescriptive provided conventions for assessing and criticising actual events. In many ways, the location of particular cases within this generalised body of discourse was inevitable.
First, pamphlets had to appeal to mainstream discourse in order to highlight transgression. They could thereby evoke what appeared to be 'public opinion' in order to condemn the aberrant individual. Second, the pamphlet genre had much in common with that of advice literature. Both provided entertainment and diversion whilst propounding moralising and didactic agendas, claiming to deter vice and to propagate virtue throughout society. Pamphlets thus brought real domestic events into the same discursive space as prescriptive writings, the disjuncture was apparent and the result was condemnation. 54 A central feature of this process of vilification was a constant emphasis on the extent to which the corrupt manners and morals of the elite influenced those of the The Town and Country Magazine December 1769. p.632 Free Thoughts on Seduction, Adultery and Divorce... by a Civilian (London. 1771). prompted by the trial of Lady Grosvenor of the same year, reads very much like a conduct book, commenting on the nature of adultery and prescribing remedies for the immoral condition of contemporary society.