By Lisa Marie Griffith
I came across this image when I was looking for material for a tutorial on the Act of Union. The cartoon is from the wonderful Georgian political-commentator James Gillray and the title of the image is ‘Integrity retiring from Office’. Considering the week that is in it I thought it might be something to share with our Pue’s readers. The image depicts William Pitt departing from the office of First Minster of Great Britain in 1801. During the proposal for the Act of Union in Ireland Pitt had promised catholic emancipation. He sought to bolster support for the Union proposal through his emancipation promise but was also a keen advocate of equality. Unfortunately emancipation did not follow the Act of Union. This was partly because there was such vocal opposition within parliamentary and elite ciricles to emancipation and partly because George III denounced emancipation beleiving that it compromised his coronation oath. This failure to deliver emancipation prompted Pitt to leave his post as First Minister.
The text below the image says ‘Men in conscience, virtue bold;/ who dare their honest purpose hold/Nor heed the mob’s tumultuous cries/And the vile rage of Jacobins despise’. Charles James Fox, Pitt’s long time opponent, along with his supporters are on the left hand side of the image while Pitt’s supporters file out in an orderly queue. The image was published 24 of February 1801 by H. Humphrey.