«A Thesis Submitted for the Degree of PhD at the University of Warwick This thesis is made available online and is ...»
nation at large. First, the question of emulation was constantly raised. The author of the poem, Hymen, articulated the wider fear that the lower echelons would copy the iniquitous behaviour of their social superiors. Having described a corrupt and adulterous senator, he imagines: "Upward to him the low Plebeian looks;! (Examples plead more strongly far than books.)" The ultimate result is that "the thoughtless wretch now copies what he sees" and corruption is diffused downwards through society.55 Similarly, a letter published in The Town and Country Magazine as supposedly from the Duke of Cumberland's tutor to his royal pupil, ironically praised
the latter's profligate behaviour in significant terms:
By detaching wives from their husbands, and loosening domestic ties, you will increase your celebrity; and as your example will be, probably, followed, as this age is, happily, an age of emulation, it is to be devoutly hoped that in a few years matrimony will be entirely abolished in the three Kingdoms.56 These concerns, however, were expressed alongside wishes that evidence of elite immorality might function as a deterrent and the pattern of emulation inverted. The author of Trials for Adultery, for example, hoped that the numerous incidences of female profligacy and adultery outlined in the numerous volumes of his anthology might "deter the wavering wanton from the completion of her wishes."57
The Town and Country Magazine July 1770, p.344 Trials for Adultery, I, p.v. Much of the literature dealing with Lady Grosvenor followed the same didactic lines. A Full and Complete History of His R--l R-- The D-- of C--d and Lady G--r, the rd Fair Adulteress 2 Vols. (1770) (London, 3 edition, 1770), II p.l recommended: "Oh! ye fair, consider well the impropriety of her conduct, whom neither birth, nor exalted rank could shield... Think of this, Thus, the Duke of Cumberland was described by pamphletists as a public figure who had abused his prominent position in society by setting a bad example to his subordinates. A Circumstantial Narrative recorded the views of Mr. Wedderburn, council for the plaintiff; "no given sum could be punishment sufficient, as the elevated rank, and situation of life he sustained, should the more deter him from setting a bad example to the subordinate classes of society."58 This sentiment was echoed by another anonymous author, claiming the conduct of princes to be of national concern due to the influence inherent in "their titular and elevated station."59 The poignancy of Cumberland's betrayal of public responsibility was highlighted by comparison with
virtuous and domestic King, a worthy role model for his subjects. Wedderburn was quoted as recommending that the Duke should "copy from a very near relation of his... whose conjugal attachments, abstracted from his other virtues, not only ornamented the throne he filled, but shed a bright example to his subjects in general."60 Similarly, the author of Free Thoughts on Seduction praised George ill as "the most shining example of conjugal virtue that ever graced the annals of ancient or modem times."61 oh! ye fair and let the indelible blot of infamy she has entailed on herself. be a constant check on your own conduct."
A Circumstantial Narrative of a Late Remarkable Trial, to which are added the Letters that were produced on the occasion (London. 1770). p.5 Free Thoughts on Seduction, p.4 A Circumstantial Narrative, p.6. Also cited in The Town and Country Magazine July 1770.
p.366. Plowden in his Criminal Conversation Biography, I. p.241 records council remarking "that it would have been happy if his Majesty's regular conduct had been diffused into his Royal Highness and his subjects, to make them as pure as he is; that his Royal Highness saw in his own family the greatest example of piety and conjugal fidelity."
Free Thoughts on Seduction, p.276 This rhetoric found a correspondence in the pictorial representation of the royal brothers. Whilst Cumberland was depicted in numerous satires as a rake and an adulterer (figs.125 and 126), George ill was represented in numerous portraits as an affectionate husband and a concerned father. Much has been written on the newly prevalent image of a happy and domestic royal household at this time. Simon Schama, in particular, has traced a linear development from "the clan of deities" represented in seventeenth-century images to the "domestic parlor group" as painted by Johann Zoffany in the 1760s and 1770s.62 Portraits such as George III, Queen Charlotte and their Six Eldest Children of 1770 (fig.127) depict a vista of loving familial relationships, supervised by the dominant figure of the King. His offspring play at his feet whilst the Queen is shown to be both a companionate wife by the miniature portrait of her husband over her heart and a kind and attentive mother by the baby on her lap.63 This image was engraved and widely circulated, thus entering the print market at the same time as satires attacking the sexual mores of the King's brother were being circulated.
Second, aristocratic immorality was held to be disruptive of public morality through the model of the nation as an agglomerate of its constituent families. The S. Schama, 'The Domestication of Majesty: Royal Family Portraiture 1500-1850'. in R.1.
Art and History: Images and their Meaning Rotberg and T.K. Rabb, eds., (Cambridge, 1986).
especially pp.155, 169-174. See also L. Colley, 'The Apotheosis of George III', Past and Present 102 (1984), pp.94-129 63 However, the notion of a linear development to a purely private and domestic iconography should not, as noted by Eirwen Nicolson in a research seminar at the University of Warwick in 1996, be taken too far. Such images retain the traditional symbols of columns, crowns and drapes. Indeed.
Schama himself notes in 'The Domestication of Majesty'. p.171 that the Van Dyckian garb worn by the royal family in Zoffany's portrait was one of those "ostentatious historical trappings which the king favored to identify himself with his ancestors." Nevertheless. the domestic iconography of this image and its emphasis on familial relationships is still noticeable.
notion of the health and well-being of the family as critical to the health and wellbeing of the state was well established by this time and often employed by writers on the marital institution. Some regarded the nation as composed from the physical units of individual families. Henry GaIly, author of the most prominent attack on clandestine marriages, argued that: "PRIVATE families ought to be, and have always been considered, as constituent Parts of larger Communities." Thus, he claimed, "the Peace and good Order of Society depend upon the Peace and good Order of private Families".64 Maria Edgeworth expressed a similar sentiment in her paraphrase of Bernard de Mandeville: "Private virtues are public benefits: if each bee were content in his cell, there could be no grumbling hive; and if each cell were complete, the whole fabric must be perfect."65 Some, however, rather presented families as microcosms of the wider society, as "little communities" or as "so many miniatures" of the state."66 Both conceits were exploited by conduct and periodical writers who viewed marriage as "the sacred cement," as "the chief Bond of Society," as "the Foundation of Community" without which cities and republics would "run to ruin, and be entirely forsaken."67 Thus, as well as providing a bad example to the plebeian, aristocratic adulterers and bigamists were viewed as inherently detrimental to national moral 64 H. GaIly, Some Considerations upon Clandestine Marriages (London, 1750), pp.5, 25-6 65 M. Edgeworth, Letters for Literary Ladies (1795), ed. C. Connolly (London, 1993), p.37 66 S. Richardson, A Collection of the Moral and Instructive Sentiments, Maxims, Cautions and Reflections Contained in the Histories of Pamela, Clarissa, and Sir Charles Grandison (London, 1755), p.326 67 B. Franklin, Reflections on Courtship and Marriage: in Two Letters to a Friend (1750) (London, 1759), p.iv; Wilkes, A Letter of Genteel and Moral Advice, p.125; The Spectator no.522 (29 October 1712), in The Spectator (1711-12,1714), ed. D.F. Bond, 5 Vols. (Oxford, 1965), IV, p.357;
N. Venette, Conjugal Love; or, The Pleasures of the Marriage Bed Considered in Several Lectures on Human Generation (1703, first Dutch edition, 1687) (London, 20th edition, 1750), p.73 health. Such rhetoric was heavily exploited during the trial of the Duchess of Kingston. The Lord High Steward represented the crime of bigamy to the attendant masses as "destructive of the Peace and Happiness of Private Families, and...injurious in its Consequences to the Welfare and good Order of Society."68 Trial reporters adopted this view, quoting and paraphrasing the Steward's words. 69 However, the pamphlet, Free Thoughts on Seduction. prompted by the Cumberland trial, was to explore such notions most fully. The defence had claimed that the Duke's actions were of little relevance to the public, presenting his seduction of Lady Grosvenor as an entirely private matter. The council for the plaintiff had retorted that, on the contrary, it was a matter of concern to every peer and every married man in the country. The pamphlet's author clearly sided with the latter, regarding the affairs of the Duke as critical "to the domestic happiness of every protestant husband" and even "to the manners and principles of the world at large." Whilst he allowed that the crime of adultery was a private issue, he believed its punishment to be "an interesting object of national and publick concern" and advised that the Duke should be severely punished as "a salutary example to debauchees." Indeed, he even went so far as to claim that any man not in favour of huge damages being awarded to Lord Grosvenor was either unmarried "or deserves to be made a most egregious dupe, by the first gallant that is inclined to seduce his wife."70 68 Quoted in The Trial of Elizabeth, Duchess Dowager of Kingston for Bigamy before the Right Honourable the House of Peers, in Westminster-Hall, in Full Parliament (London. 1776). p.7; Life and Memoirs of Elizabeth Chudleigh, p.22 and noted by Mrs Harris in a letter to her son. 16 April
1776. cited in Letters of the First Earl ofMalmesbury, I. p.343 69 The Trial of Robert Feilding Esq., p.42 70 Free Thoughts on Seduction, advertisement and pp.22-4 * * * * * The activities of these elite adulterers, adulteresses and bigamists not only prompted a large quantity of engraved satirical material, but also affected the commissioning, appearance and public reception of their portraits. In some cases, representations of the individuals concerned were either sold or mutilated as a result of their misbehaviour. One example is Reynolds's portrait of Lady Worsley (fig. 128), exhibited at the Royal Academy exhibition of 1780, a mere two years before her relationship with Mr Bissett came to (very) public attention. It seems that, prompted by the events preceding the criminal conversation trial, Sir Richard rejected this image of his perfidious wife and, as a result, it was given to her mother's husband.? 1 Likewise, George Stubbs's painting of John and Sophia Musters of 1777 (fig.129), depicting the couple embarking on a horseride from the newly rebuilt Colwick Hall, appeared, until earlier last century, to be simply a painting of two horses. Only after cleaning did the riders emerge and the conclusion was drawn that Sophia's figure had been painted over first. Her husband was removed only subsequently, presumably because the picture looked unbalanced with the lone Musters accompanied by a riderless horse. Its companion portrait suffered a similar fate. John Musters and the Rev. Philip Story riding out from the Stable-Block at Colwick Hall (fig.l30) was, originally, also a painting of the Squire and his wife. Her figure was replaced with his clerical friend, apparently because of her passion for court society (antipathetic to her husband's more rural interests) and associated rumours of adulterous activities.
Indeed, gossip columns popularly linked her name with that of the Prince Regent. In M. Painton. Strategies for Showing: Women. Possession and Representation in English Visual Culture 1665-1800 (Oxford. 1997). p.202; N. Penny. Reynolds (London. 1986). pp.289-90 1786, the Squire confronted his wife and evicted her from Colwick Hall, relegating most of her portraits to the attic but recalling Stubbs to repaint these two. Thus, her pictorial presence was eradicated to mirror her physical absence.72 Marcia Pointon has equated the material object of a portrait with the body of the female sitter, examining the way in which portraits were purchased, owned, sold, discarded and donated to alternative owners in the context of the legal ownership of women by men. Proposing the Worsley portrait to be "a body analogous to the physical body of the woman re-presented upon it," she contends that Sir Richard "made the sight of that body available to a third party; in the ritualized world of commodity ownership and exchange, he gave away the symbolic body of his wife at the moment she ceased to be his property."73 The transfer and alteration of the portraits of Sophia Musters and Lady Worsley certainly reflects the transfer of their persons and alterations in the status quo of their marriages. These processes of relocation and eradication also evoke the portrait as a means of commemoration, as a pictorial record of an individual designed to express familial and affective ties and to provide a substitute in the event of the absence of the original.14 Such motivations were effectively rendered null and void by the actions of these women. Familial and affective ties were terminated and the urge to provide a substitute for the original was lost when the absence of that original became, in effect, desired. Thus, the loss of the 72 H. Wilberforce Bell. 'The Vicissitudes of a Picture by George Stubbs', Country Life. 26 September 1936; B. Sewell. 'The Strange Case of an Absent Wife', The Sunday Times Magazine. 8 December 1974; J. Egerton, George Stubbs 1724-1806 (London, 1984), pp.157-8 73 Pointon. Strategies for Showing. pp.179. 205 See S. Scholl. Death and the Humanities (Lewisbury, P.A.. 1984). pp.42-3; J. Woodall.
'Introduction: Facing the Subject', in J. Woodall. ed.. Portraiture: Facing the Subject (Manchester and New York. 1997), p.8; R. Wendorf. The Elements of Life: Biography and Portrait-Painting in Stuart and Georgian England (Oxford. 1990). pp.9-10 relationship, affect and commemorative impulse led to the voluntary loss of the pictorial representation, whether in totality or through the process of repainting.