I watched Ian Hislop’s “Age of Do-Gooders” on the telly a coupla nights ago. It alerted me to this chap…
In the late 1840s, Cruikshank’s focus shifted from book illustration to an obsession with temperance and anti-smoking. Formerly a heavy drinker, he now supported, lectured to, and supplied illustrations for the National Temperance Society and the Total Abstinence Society among others. The best known of these are The Bottle, 8 plates (1847), with its sequel, The Drunkard’s Children, 8 plates (1848), with the ambitious work, The Worship of Bacchus, published by subscription after the artist’s oil painting, now in the Tate Gallery, London. For his efforts he was made vice president of the National Temperance League in 1856.
We can all raise a glass to that miserable sod! Of course these Victorian puritans were… well, puritanical and never got invited to parties and that. They railed against music halls and such. I recall hearing recently about a late C19th variety star in London who wowed the crowds by performing a high wire act with no knickers on. She probably was injurious to health in terms of cricked necks. Hell, I’d like to see that! A lot more fun than that sourpuss professional quinoa eater and turd sniffer “Dr” Gillian McKeith not eating bugs for the amusement of Ant & Dec.
Nothing changes. I watched the finale of ITV1’s X-Factor over the weekend and apparently Christina Aguilera and her dancers outraged the morality of the Daily Mail. I just love this from the linked Mail article, “The images below have been published to show the fury they’ve caused”. Yeah, right! There is nothing like the heady cocktail of mild titilation and furious righteous indignation garnished with a dash of “thinking of the children” is there? Didn’t cause any fury round where I was. I liked it (apart from Aguilera who is beginning to look a bit like a real-life Miss Piggy) though the dancers did it for me. Why they didn’t like it is a mystery… Except it isn’t is it? Whether it’s “Onward Christian Soldiers” or Decembrow (Do read it, it’s the first use the phrase “power eyebrows” since Leonid Brezhnez kicked the samovar) it’s the same old dismal thing. It is the same assault on fun of any description. It is with us now because it has always been with us and it has been with us because some people are no fun whatsoever and therefore want to level that playing field (I recall invitations as an undergrad to certain Christian Union “does” like, “This Halloween we are holding a prayer vigil for the sins of the campus…” - oh, do fuck off) Wesley* himself, whilst reading divinity, was regarded as too pious for his own good. Probably because he was the miserable cunt.
Anyway back to Cruickshank…
Punch magazine, said in its obituary: “There never was a purer, simpler, more straightforward or altogether more blameless man. His nature had something childlike in its transparency.”
Perhaps Punch hadn’t read his will by that point…
Upon his death, it was discovered that Cruikshank had fathered 11 illegitimate children with a mistress named Adelaide Attree, his former servant, who lived close to where he lived with his wife. Adelaide was ostensibly married and had taken the married surname ‘Archibold’.
Cruikshank provided financially for his mistress and their children in his will and also left them his considerable cellar that he kept at Adelaide’s house.
I cannot even begin to be surprised. Cruikshank’s magnum opus was “The Worship of Bacchus“.
Originally a painting (it’s in Tate Britain) - that’s a link to the print. Check it out at A3 size. Just have a look over it. Probably the first thing you’ll think is that it owes a bit to Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of “Earthly Delights” but with one key difference. Whilst Bosch (to modern eyes at least) is rather cryptic Cruikshank isn’t in the slightest. Cruikshank goes absolute “route one” to make his point. And what is that point? Well, obviously it is that booze is bad and indeed pretty much the root cause of every Victorian social ill (apart from those caused by masturbation, obviously) - note the signs on the buildings along the top of the picture for example. OK, so the demon drink is evil but there is another story here as well. I’ll illustrate it with a snippet from towards the top-left of the picture though I could have chosen many other little bits instead.
That little tableau is hardly difficult to decipher is it? At the bottom the officers are carousing in the mess whilst a sailor above is flogged presumably either for drunkenness or something done under the ‘fluence of the demon. An easy analysis of this is that the plebs can’t be trusted with the bottle but their “betters” can be. Certainly that would fit with Mr Cruikshank keeping his mistress and fathering bastards into two figures with the bed-springs heaving over a monumental stock of booze in the basement. Hypocrisy, thy name is George! But I dislike that line of attack. It’s too much of a “gotcha!” argument. It is true of course and undoubtedly has as it’s modern progeny in such things as minimum pricing per unit which might make a bottle of Lambrini cost more but won’t effect the price of a bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape one iota. But it is even worse than the patronising attitude that it is only the lower orders who need protecting from themselves whilst the Philosopher Kings can drink their fine wines around Islington dining tables and set the World (or at least the North London of their own imaginings between the Waitrose and the organic deli) to rights. Yes, it is worse than that but this aside is I think worth it because it is exactly the same mentality that rails from a Conran chair after rather too many glasses of a particularly cheeky Merlot against the chavs getting pissed as had Cruikshank getting loaded on Claret and doinking his bit on the side whilst peddling his temperance schtick. It really is no different and neither is the post-modern sin of carbon emissions which sees the same later day bien pissants criticising EasyJet whilst recounting their eco-tour of Guatamala whilst their dinner party guests oh!!! and ah!!! about some frankly awful piece of “fairtrade” tat they picked up that was made “authentically”**.
No, it is worse because both Cruikshank and his current “intellectual” heirs think that the higher orders ought to set an example. To go back to the above picture snippet Cruikshank’s point is that not only can the “lower orders” not help themselves off their own bat but that they could if only the genteel “officer class” set a good example. That is horrendously patronising to everyone. I suppose I’m lower-middle class and fight urges to buy the Daily Mail and all that but… Should I set myself up as a beacon to the proles? Should I, in my turn, follow the doings of my betters (presumably up to and including their Royal Highnesses***)? No! I am Nick. I am me. I am whatever I can be bothered to be. So are you. So is everyone. I am not here to set an example because I just am [This is teetering on the brink of becoming a torch song - Ed]. So are you. Now I’m not going to get all Kipling (”Walk with Kings yet not lose the common touch…”) but I have met some right troglodytes of every social order and the same applies to good folks too. Essentially Cruikshank’s painting is classicist (bet you never thought you’d read that word on a libertarian blog…). It is saying that if only the higher-ups lived lives of abstemious virtue then so would the plebs. Tacit within that analysis (emphasis on the first syllable) is the idea that morality is inherited along with money. See ***. I didn’t give my bride a sapphire the size of a Vauxhall Astra but on the credit side neither did I fuck my mistress the night before the wedding. The heir to the throne did because he’s a twat.
Anyway, back to iDave’s house. Yes, our own dear Prime Monster. His very soul espouses the idea that those of good birth ought to be exemplars (If we ignore his Bullingdonian antics but that was OK because iDave is special). Why else in these carbon-fearing times does he have a fucking windmill on his house? It’s the same thing. Now, don’t get me wrong. The deck chairs have been re-arranged and the “look-up to class” might be Matt Cardle**** and not the Duke of Northumberland but it’s the same old…
Yes it is. Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow I lead the revolution (weather permitting). Now I know this will not rally the troops but…
The ruling classes are not just hypocrites (though they are) but hypocrites who know they are but don’t care because they believe that their public persona (and their public) is enough to persuade the plebs to live socially useful lives.
Well fuck ‘em I say! Fuck ‘em with a calumny of greater or lesser fucks. It is well past time to raise the banner and set the tumbrils rolling.
I think Twisted Sister said it better than me…
Or you could listen to Chris Martin and Blandplay because he cares so much about beige causes he even fucked (word count hit exactly 1776 there!) Gwyneth Poultry (the unthinking man’s Cate Blanchett) simply because he’s the dismal and exceedingly well-chiselled twatter he truly is. There are things gurgling down plug-holes in abortion clinics that communicate more to the porpoise than that wretched cunt.
*That bugger got everywhere. You know the park where Forest Gump sits with his box of chocolates? I’ve been there - Savannah, GA. It’s got a statue of Wesley - he was a bishop there. The commuter-belt village I grew-up in had a “Wesley’s Mount” (Fnarr fnarr!) where he once preached. Nine hours across the Atlantic and I still couldn’t get away from the methodical sod!
**The computer I’m typing this on was made by me in a shed. Is that not authentic enough for them? No, of course not. The components were made in factories of course and me being English and not living in a hut with naught but a bucket to crap in I’m hardly “authentic” am I? Except you’re reading this so if neither this computer or the keyboard jockey are “authentic” you must be channelling some mighty big ju-ju or have your Tibetan birthing-rug aligned with the right chakras or some such shite.
***Such fine moral exemplars that they are.
****Heaven help us if it is Cheryl Cole who was only rehabilitated from being a talentless bint who punched a toilet attendant when she got married to Ashley Cole and found out he had a penchant for scoring during “away fixtures”. Married to that mooasaurus I am hardly surprised. Ye gods she’s thicker than industrial-grade pig-shit concentrate!