The beaux nurses, or, The modern cramers

lwlpr34649-1024x673

An allegorical representation of the nationalistic riot occasioned by a troupe of French comedians in London. This satirical print refers to the controversy and protest surrounding a French theatrical company, nicknamed the ‘French Strollers’, who applied for and were granted a licence to perform at the Haymarket in the winter of 1749. Their arrival occasioned much discontent; as the Scots Magazine reported, they were ‘bitterly pelted in the news-papers’. Asserting their right to perform, they persisted in a show on 14 November, but were met by an audience intent on sabotage. An eyewitness account of the incident appeared in the Monthly Review some years later (July 1761): ‘People went early to the Theatre, as a crouded House was certain … I soon perceived that we were visited by two Westminster Justices, Deveil and Manning. The Leaders, that had the conduct of the Opposition, were known to be there; one of whom called aloud for the song in praise of English roast beef, which was accordingly sung in the gallery, by a person prepared for that purpose; and the whole house besides joining in the chorus, saluted the close with three huzzas! This, Justice Deveil was pleased to say, was a riot’. Despite the Justice’s assertions that the play was licensed by the King’s command, the crowd had come prepared to produce disruption. They were equipped with instruments which they played discordantly as an accompaniment to their jeers, catcalls, and Francophobic songs: ‘as an attempt at speaking was ridiculous, the Actors retired, and opened instead with a grand dance of twelve men and twelve women; but even that was prepared for, and they were directly saluted with a bushel or two of peas, which made their capering very unsafe’. Unable even to dance, and following another abortive attempt by the magistrates to assert the King’s authority, the curtain fell for the final time. The eyewitness evidently relished the outcome, venturing ‘that at no battle gained over the French, by the immortal Marlborough, the shoutings could be more joyous than on this occasion’. The print embodies similar sentiments; the French strollers attack British theatrical establishment–represented by an affronted Britannia–who stands between them and British theatre-goers. In the foreground stands a perplexed Othello, lamenting the loss of his occupation, and an injured man a man lies on the floor ‘Almost kill’d for not understanding French’.

  • TitleThe beaux nurses, or, The modern cramers [graphic] : acted at the French Theatre in the Haymarket Novr. [the] 14th.
  • Publication[London : publisher not identified, not before 1749]

Catalog Record & Digital Collection

749.00.00.50

Acquired July 2016

 

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About lewiswalpolelibrary

The Lewis Walpole Library, a department of the Yale University Library since 1980, is an internationally recognized research collection in the field of British eighteenth-century studies. Its unrivalled collection of Walpoliana includes half the traceable volumes from Horace Walpole's famous library at Strawberry Hill and many letters and other manuscripts by him. The Library's book and manuscript collections, numbering over 32,000 volumes, cover all aspects of eighteenth-century British culture. The Library is also home to the largest and finest collection of eighteenth-century British graphic art outside the British Museum; its 35,000 satirical prints, portraits, and topographical views are an incomparable resource for visual material on many facets of English life of the period. Located in Farmington, Connecticut, forty miles north of New Haven and within easy distance of Boston and New York, the Lewis Walpole Library's collections also include drawings, paintings, and furniture, all housed on a 14-acre campus with four historically important structures and extensive grounds. The Library runs an active fellowship program and sponsors conferences, lectures, and exhibitions in cooperation with other Yale libraries and departments.

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