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Vicars and tarts, a perfect 18th Century combination!

It has dawned on me that I have featured caricatures poking fun at most of the professions, with the exception of the Church. It is high time that this was remedied!

First up, a gentle poke at hypocrisy with this etching by G M Woodward dated 1799 entitled ‘A Divine in  his Glory!!’ It appears courtesy of the Lewis Walpole Library.

It shows a singularly corpulent parson with a courtesan balanced on each knee, and the verse underneath reads: ‘The business of his church he did by proxy and loved all doxies but the ortho-doxy.’

Continuing the overweight, hedonist, theme here we have a Rowlandson caricature from the same year, titled ‘Vicar.’ The fat vicar wearing a night-cap has fallen asleep with his feet resting on a somnolent dog; his companion helps himself to two generous glasses of port from a full decanter and utters the question “What is life without the enjoyment of a friend”.

The 18 year old Richard Newton did a lovely Clerical Calendar in 1795 showing  clergy in various degrees of ridicule:

 Space doesn’t really allow close-ups of all the letters but use the ever-helpful Lewis Walpole Library’s Zoomify feature here and you can see each individual caricature.

I have always been a fan of Newton so I was pleased to see that parsons were a regular target for the young man whose life ended at the tragically early age of twenty-three. Here is a splendid one, again via Lewis Walpole Library, entitled ‘Which way shall I turn me?’  from 1794 showing the plight of the parson torn between the pleasures of the flesh and  …. the pleasures of the flesh!

Another caricature by Newton from the same source, dated 1795, under the title of ‘Fast Day’ shows four clerics drooling over the turkey which they are about to consume ravenously. One says “Here’s our old friend” to which his colleague replies “You mean the Church, I suppose”

Finally two Newton cartoons from the British Museum site. The first is entitled ‘A Priestridden Village’ and shows a plethora of parsons supported by the parish – literally.

And to end with, one  entitled ‘Parsons Drowning Care.’   Irreverence for  Reverends – I love it!

1 thought on “Vicars and tarts, a perfect 18th Century combination!”

  1. Haha, the church in all its irreverence. Note on the alphabet, Q, a queer parson, by the slang of the time would be in some wise bad, maybe a crook, or maybe merely useless. Queer was, at the time, a word pejoratively applied in a general sense, and not sexual, hence a queer cuffin was a magistrate known for his harshness [or generally used for a magistrate since any one was as bad as another…]
    With the shenanigans of the church today, where the rantings of the obsolete mark them out as singularly childishly bigoted, and with the scandals of the Catholic church, this post is perhaps singularly apposite.

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