Source Four (b): A Satirical Cartoon from the Political Drama

Cartoon entitled: ‘The Political Drama’ with caption: ‘Reviewing the Blue Devils, Alias the Raw Lobsters, Alias the Bludgeon men’, 1833,  printed and published by G. Drake, 12, Broughton Street, Clare Market, [London],  Catalogue ref: HO 61/9  

This cartoon is a contemporary reaction to the creation of the Metropolitan Police Force of London. It shows the British Secretary of State, pictured as a police sergeant, inspecting the newly created police force. 


[Transcript reads from left to right.] 


Now, my fine fellows, as Secretary of State, I have in behalf of the Whigs, Tories, Bishops, and Placemen*, Pensioners, Sabbath Protectors, Tax Eaters, Slave Owners, Land Owners, Money Jobbers*, and the remainder of the honourable and united body of the Nonproductives and Donothings, to return you their sincere thanks for the vigilant, firm, orderly, forbearing, sensible, discreet, and admirable manner in which you discharge your duties, particularly in these important and dangerous times, when the spirit of that humbug* Liberty is now spreading to an alarming degree, and to the danger of all true lovers of non-resistance, passive obedience, and kingly divinity.  

It is, my friends, the first duties of a good Monarchical Government, to act in direct opposition to the general voice of the people: and as you were enrolled and organized in opposition to the wishes of the public, so must ye be perpetually maintained by them, for it has always been the rule of this Government to say “no,” when the people say “yes,” and the reverse. Therefore, my lads, you are always justified in breaking the heads of the public when you consider it absolutely necessary for the maintenance of the public peace, not even excepting your own wives and families; for, according to the law, they have no business in your way; besides, my lads, you are aware that the oath of one of ye, [you] however doubtful, as good as the oaths of twenty respectable housekeepers, however doubtless. Therefore, you are always sure of protection from these judicial old women, the Magistrates who receive their advices [advice] from the Government as well as their pay and pensions. 

Now, my lads, I have nothing further to say to ye [you], in dismissing ye, excepting that ye do for the future obtain as much as possible from supplying the different parishes with children, to the inconvenience to the servant maids, and at the expense of the parishioners ; and also I request that you will for the future bring with ye as small a quantity of livestock about your persons as you may find convenient, as well as for the dignity of so highly a respectable body of spies and informers. 

[From first policemen to the tenth in order.] 

1.Please, Sir, may I go backwards.

2. I say, you Policeman, get a little farther off. 

  1. Dam the varmint, ever since I’ve been in the force, they have stuck to me as close as my police coat.
  2. Oh! my eyes, you do that again now.
  3. By Jasus I wish your honour would give us a few throats to cut for we have had enough of breaking heads.
  4. We’ll do anything for money.
  5. I wish as how you’d wipe your nose you nasty beast.
  6. I’ve had a regular attack of the influenza but it’s dropping of by degrees.
  7. I wish I was in the workhouse once more where they took me from.
  8. I wish I was sweeping the crossing again, I used to get a wiper and other bits of articles now and then, of the passengers, without boar- and kept them to myself, but anything that is prig’d [stolen] now, there’s my company crying halves and a fee for my officers.


Printed and Published by G. Drake, 12, Houghton Street, Clare Market. 


Glossary for starred* words, other word meanings given in brackets. 

  • Placemen: a person appointed to a position, especially in government service, for personal profit and as a reward for political support. 
  • Money jobber: buying and selling stocks and shares for their own account. 
  • Humbug: deceptive or dishonest (freedom in this case.) 
  • Tax Eaters: person getting support from public funds. 
« Return to Crime and Punishment: Robert Peel
  • What does the cartoonist say about the government responsible for the new police force? [See the ‘sergeant’s’ speech to men. Paras.1&2.] 
  • How does the ‘sergeant’ suggest policemen should carry out their work? [See the ‘sergeant’s’ speech to men. Para.2.] 
  • What kinds of people joined the police force according to the cartoonist?  [Clue: Read the comments from the ten policemen] 
  • How has the cartoonist used language and drawing techniques to convey his views on the new Metropolitan Police?  
  • How does the cartoon title: ‘The Political Drama’ and its caption: ‘Reviewing the Blue Devils, Alias the Raw Lobsters, Alias the Bludgeon men’ help us to further understand the message of the cartoon? [Clue: use source 3 to help.]