C.J. Grant, The Political Drama No. 6. The Modern Puritan, published by G. Tregear, 1833.

I’m delighted to introduce another guest post by Daphne & Mike Tregear. The Tregears are descendants of Gabriel Shire Tregear; a well-known publisher of satirical prints in early nineteenth-century London. Having previously provided us with articles on Tregear’s life, his publication of the Rum Jokes series, and his somewhat tempestuous relationship with the artist C.J. Grant, they have been kind enough to offer some further thoughts the The Modern Puritan, a caricature produced by Grant and published by Tregear in the spring of 1833.

I’ve included a brief addendum of my own at the bottom of the article, which aims to explain the immediate political context in which the print was created.

The Modern Puritan – by Daphne & Mike Tregear

In 1833 C.J. Grant began publishing the series “The Political Drama” with G. Drake as the printer. This series would run for some 130 editions. The first six of the series have the agitation in Parliament and elsewhere for the passing of legislation enabling the enforcement of strict Sabbatarian laws as a clear target [1]. At the same time as Grant is working with Drake, a second publisher (G.S. Tregear), began to publish a series with the same name. This appears to be a collaborative partnership since Grant’s signature appears on all of the three prints listed below. All of Tregear’s are dated April 1833 and no. 7 is dated as the 9th April. Tregear and Grant chose to re-order this series. The titles which have come to light so far are:

We do not know that numbers 1-5 in the Grant/Drake series were ever published by Tregear nor the order in which they were published. In the Tregear series all of the known examples were lithographs while the Drake versions were woodcuts.

It might be supposed that Grant and the two partnerships were aiming at two different markets or, perhaps, two different client groups. The cheaper, less nuanced, version by Drake from his premises in Clare Market aimed at the mass market and the more expensive by Tregear in Cheapside. Pound [2] notes that “The two (Fireside) prints are almost identical in composition, although this one uses the tonal qualities of lithography to great effect and allows for much greater detail, especially in the figure’s face”.

In both number 6 and 7 one of the principal targets of Drake’s satire is clear. He is Sir Andrew Agnew, 7th Baronet Agnew of Lochnaw, who was the Member of Parliament for Wigtownshire from 1830 to 1837. He stood as a moderate reformer but took up the cause of Sabbatairism, seeking to ban all labour on Sundays. He introduced four Sabbath Observance Bills into the House of Commons, none of which were passed.

In the “The Modern Puritan” Agnew is shown standing in the centre of the print dressed as a Puritan with dark coat and knee breeches, a large white shirt collar, ruffs at the wrist and knees and an exaggerated hat with a long pointed peak. Around his shoulders is a tartan cloth. He is preaching to a cat hanging from a tree and watched by a crowd including young children.Underneath his left arm are a bundle of papers which have titles including “A Bill for the Better Protection of Cant and Hypocrisy”, “Petition from … Reverend E. Irvin(g)” [3], “A Petition from the Devil Dodgers for the Better Observance (of the) Sabbath”. He is standing in a space in front of a building named as “St. Andrew’s Late St. Luke’s” which is the St. Luke’s Hospital for Lunatics (Moorfields) which was opposite the Bethlem Hospital. The implication of the re-naming is clear and one of the on-lookers emphasises the point by saying in response to the question “Who’s that ‘ere Merry Andrew” — “Vy he’s a Member of vun ‘o them ‘ere Houses behind us, the Kiddy is hung his cat, cos the poor starved creature vas about to make a meal of a mouse on Sunday, and vots vusser he calls this here a Religious Act”.

Sir Andrew is lecturing the cat with the words “Verily, verily I say unto thee thou wut a fool and Infidel in thine heart, thou wut hungry but heedth not the Sabbath day.” It is the theme of hunger and privation inflicted onto the working class which is carried forward in both prints seven and eight.

The observers of this little drama are the sort of people that could be expected on a London street. However this print includes to the left a figure standing behind a group of children. Clearly dressed as a woman, who appears to be taking a pleasurable and confirmatory attitude to the whole event, who is she/he?

The sub-title of the print is not original. Drunken Barnaby’s Four Journeys to the North of England, in both Latin and English verse [4] is an extended poem by Richard Braithwaite (1588—1673) which includes the lines:

To Banbury came I,
O, Profane one.
Where I saw a Puritane One
Hanging of his cat on Monday,
For killing of a mouse on Sunday.

Both the 1805 and 1822 editions of the book have an illustration of the Puritan hanging his cat although the 1805 edition [5] with the cat hanging from a tree is perhaps more nearly the inspiration of C.J. Grant’s caricature than the 1822 version [6]. Braithwaite’s book was frequently republished; longevity for Barnaby if not for the cat.

The original woodcut edition of The Modern Puritan which Grant produced for G. Drake. One of two versions of the image known to have been issued by Drake.

Postscript – Mathew Crowther

On 6th March 1833, Sir Andrew Agnew announced that he intended to bring legislation before Parliament to curb Sunday trading and restore the sanctity of the Sabbath. The Sabbath Observance Bill duly sought to impose strict limitations on the types of business activity that could be carried out on a Sunday, with special emphasis being placed on stamping out practices that evangelicals found to particularly objectionable, such as the publication of Sunday newspapers and the opening of alehouses.

Despite heavy opposition to the bill in Parliament and large sections of the metropolitan press, it received a rapturous reception amongst the growing congregations of evangelical chapels up and down the country, who responded by inundating Parliament with petitions of support. Their efforts were coordinated by the Lord’s Day Observance Society, which has formed in 1831 for the express purpose of securing legal recognition for the divine authority and sanctity of the Sabbath [7]. Opponents of the bill, particularly the Radicals, angrily rejected the petitioners demands, arguing that most evangelicals were drawn from the affluent ranks of the middle classes and would therefore not be inconvenienced by the measures they proposed [8]. Working people on the other hand, would find themselves unable to enjoy the most rudimentary leisure activities on Sundays, such as strolling public parks, and would even be unable to buy and prepare food (as poorer households were often reliant on the local baker’s over to cook meals).

The Modern Puritan appears to have been conceived as a satirical rebuttal to the evangelical petitioning movement. The documents under Agnew’s arm carry titles such as “A petition from the Devil Dodger[s]”, “Petition from the Ranters”, and “Petition from the Jumpers”, the latter clearly attempting to associate the views of contemporary evangelicals with the excesses of the extreme puritanical sects of the seventeenth-century. Immediate inspiration for the design may also have come from an editorial in the Morning Chronicle of 20th February 1833, which urged the government to ignore the Sabbatarian petitions and quoted Braithwaite by asking its readers: “who had not heard of the Puritan – ‘who hang’d his cat on Monday for catching a mouse on Sunday’?


Notes

1.The numbering of the plates in “The Political Drama” series published by G. Drake is as follows:

  • No. 1. Protecting the Sabbath!!! Or Coercion for England.
  • No. 2. The Modern Puritan. Hanging a Cat on Monday for Killing a Mouse on Sunday.
  • No.3. The Sabbath Breakers.
  • No. 4. John Bull: or an Englishman’s Fireside.
  • No. 5. Things not to be done on the Sabbath.
  • No. 6. The Sinners before St. Andrew.
  1. Richard Pound, editor, C.J. Grant’s Political Drama, A Radical Satirist Rediscovered. University College London and The Paul Mellon Centre for the Studies in British Art 1998.
  2. Edward Irving (1792 – 1834). Irving had come to London in 1821 to minister to Scottish Presbyterian communities in the capital. However, he gradually drifted towards ever more extreme strains of evangelicalism, eventually breaking away to form the Holy Catholic Apostolic Church in 1832. Irving’s belief in Pentecostal phenomena such as speaking in tongues radical interpretation of the Bible ultimately resulted in him being branded a heretic and expelled from the Church of Scotland in March 1833.
  3. Drunken Barnaby’s Four journeys to the North of England,1805, J. Harding, No.36 St. James’s Street, London; 1822, T. and J. Allman, Princes Street, Hanover Square, London with lithographic illustrations by D. Dighton.
  4. https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=g9Y-AAAAIAAJ&pg=PA29#v=onepage&q&f=false
  5. https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=WCRZ7fJqaE8C&pg=PA20-IA2#v=onepage&q&f=false
  6. Norris Pope, Dickens and Charity, (London, 1978), pp.44-45.
  7. The Poor Man’s Guardian of 6th April 1833, described the bill as a measure “… for converting the people of England into hypocrites, slaves, and morose fanatics… It would convert a day of rest and enjoyment into a day of tribulation and misery. It would let loose a host of spies and informers on the country”. Radical activists also began disrupting Sabbatarian meetings with the aim of preventing petitions and motions of support for the bill from being passed. See The Morning Post, 28th February 1833.
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