Online Magazine

Midshipman Blockhead

Posted by James Davey, on March 4th, 2014

Abstract

George Cruickshank continued to portray the Royal Navy after the Napoleonic era, continuing to find subjects for his satire.  Despite the meritocracy which had been a key determinant of advancement in the Georgian navy, the much-reduced navy relied on influence and favour for employment.  In the waiting room at the Admiralty Cruickshank populates his scene with the social tensions which permeated the Navy at the time. The aged, experienced midshipman knows he has small chance against the exquisite fop who epitomises the corruption and influence necessary to advance a naval career.  In this skit Cruickshank lays bare the dangers of leaving the defence of the nation to ‘vote and interest’.

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