Dickens /Poems /Subjects for Painters

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Subjects for Painters  – 1841 – A Poem

This was the third anti-Tory Poem published in the liberal journal The Examiner in 1841;

It was to be recited to Peter Pindar – John Wolcot (1738-1819) was an English satirist, who wrote under the pseudonym of ‘Peter Pindar’.

The Sir Martin in the first line was Sir Martin Archer Shee PRA.
To you, Sir Martin, and your co. R.A.’s,
I dedicate in meek, suggestive lays,
Some subjects for your academic palettes;
Hoping, by dint of these my scanty jobs,
To fill with novel thoughts your teeming nobs,
As though I beat them in with wooden mallets.

To you, Maclise, who Eve’s fair daughters paint
With Nature’s hand, and want the maudlin taint
Of the sweet Chalon school of silk and ermine:
To you, E. Landseer, who from year to year
Delight in beasts and birds, and dogs and deer,
And seldom give us any human vermin:
– To all who practise art, or make believe,
I offer subjects they may take or leave.

Great Sibthorp and his butler, in debate
(Arcades ambo) on affairs of state,
Not altogether ‘gone,’ but rather funny;
Cursing the Whigs for leaving in the lurch
Our d——d good, pleasant, gentlemanly Church,
Would make a picture—cheap at any money.

Or Sibthorp as the Tory Sec.—at-War,
Encouraging his mates with loud ‘Yhor! Yhor!
From Treas’ry benches’ most conspicuous end;
Or Sib.’s mustachios curling with a smile,
As an expectant Premier without guile
Calls him his honourable and gallant friend.

Or Sibthorp travelling in foreign parts,
Through that rich portion of our Eastern charts
Where lies the land of popular tradition;
And fairly worshipp’d by the true devout
In all his comings-in and goings-out,
Because of the old Turkish superstition.

Fame with her trumpet, blowing very hard,
And making earth rich with celestial lard,
In puffing deeds done through Lord Chamberlain Howe;
While some few thousand persons of small gains,
Who give their charities without such pains,
Look up, much wondering what may be the row.

Behind them Joseph Hume, who turns his pate
To where great Marlbro’ House in princely state
Shelters a host of lacqueys, lords and pages,
And says he knows of dowagers a crowd,
Who, without trumpeting so very loud,
Would do so much, and more, for half the wages.

Limn, sirs, the highest lady in the land,
When Joseph Surface, fawning cap in hand,
Delivers in his list of patriot mortals;
Those gentlemen of honour, faith, and truth,
Who, foul-mouthed, spat upon her maiden youth,
And dog-like did defile her palace portals.

Paint me the Tories, full of grief and woe,
Weeping (to voters) over Frost and Co.,
Their suff’ring, erring, much-enduring brothers.
And in the background don’t forget to pack,
Each grinning ghastly from its bloody sack,
The heads of Thistlewood, Despard, and others.

Paint, squandering the club’s election gold,
Fierce lovers of our Constitution old,
Lords who’re that sacred lady’s greatest debtors;
And let the law, forbidding any voice
Or act of Peer to influence the choice
Of English people, flourish in bright letters.

Paint that same dear old lady, ill at ease,
Weak in her second childhood, hard to please,
Unknowing what she ails or what she wishes;
With all her Carlton nephews at the door,
Deaf’ning both aunt and nurses with their roar,
—Fighting already, for the loaves and fishes.

Leaving these hints for you to dwell upon,
I shall presume to offer more anon.


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