Important acquisitions

A postehaste conveyance for S-[cottish] members

Author [Anon]
Title A postehaste conveyance for S-[cottish] members
Imprint [London] : James Bretherton,
Date of Publication 1784
Language English
Notes This is a satirical print by the famous caricaturist James Sayers (1748-1823) dated 20 January 1784. It shows an archetypal Scotsman in bonnet and tartan stockings, whose body is mostly enclosed in an envelope. He is being posted (in this case being hurled through the air) from Scotland to London. The envelope is addressed "To the Majority St Stephens Westmr. Free Duke or No Duke" and has been franked with the word "Free". The print is an attack on William Henry Cavendish Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland (1738-1809) who in April 1783 had become Prime Minister, as the figurehead of a coalition government dominated by Charles James Fox and Lord North. Portland's government was reluctantly accepted by King George III, who worked in private to undermine it. When Portland presented an ambitious bill to reform the East India Company, the King was able to influence the House of Lords to reject it. "Portland failed to rise to the daunting challenges of persuading the Lords of the merits of the India Bill and countering the king's unconstitutional interference. The duke's speeches were lacklustre, and he also contrived to bungle the management of parliamentary procedure" (ODNB). By the time this print was on sale Portland had already resigned as Prime Minister, along with Fox and North, leaving William Pitt to struggle to form a minority government. His reputation had been damaged by what his enemies regarded as his government's cynical and ultimately unsuccessful attempts to hold on to power. One of the accusations levelled at Portland was that he had created a special fund for travelling expenses in order to win the favour of Scottish MPs. Sayers's engraving thus depicts a Scottish MP travelling to Westminster to prop up Portland's regime.
Shelfmark AP.6.215.05
Reference Sources BM Satires 6381; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on 30/01/15
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