Monday, 6 November 2017

Cartoon 1. Thomas James Arnold on 10 April 1848

"10 April 1848" by John Paget.



The first cartoon in the series serves as a sort of title page to the set. It shows Thomas James Arnold, police magistrate at Worship Street police court - and the subject of the series of illustrations.


Arnold, a small, slightly plump man - almost a Tweedledum/dee figure before the event - is seated in a giant, spurred boot. The boot - and the idea of a small man occupying it - would have been familiar to audiences of the day from the famous 1827 cartoon picturing the Duke of Wellington.

Arnold is holding a truncheon marked SC - presumably for special constable. He appears to be wearing his barrister's wig and over his head there is a laurel wreath. Obviously this was drawn soon after the event, when the forces of law and order felt themselves to be the victors.

The only other text is a date: 10 April 1848. It is this date which demonstrates without doubt that the cartoons are intended to show Arnold's role on the day of the Chartist rally at Kennington Common which had been declared illegal and which the authorities intended to suppress.

Arnold's role that day was as one of nine magistrates in charge of elements of the military - in Arnold's case, the Royal Horse Artillery (the Blues).

Drawn by Arnold's friend and fellow barrister John Paget, the cartoon is approximately 14cm by 19cm.

While the finished version is in pen and ink, there are lighter pencil marks below where Paget sketched out a rough version first. 

The sketch is still glued to the page of an old album, where it has probably been preserved since not long after it was drawn. It is the only one of the five cartoons not to back any other illustration.

This is the first of five blog posts (plus an overview) showing a series of contemporary cartoons from 1848.

Overview and introduction
Cartoon 1. 
Cartoon 2. 
Cartoon 3.
Cartoon 4. 

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