The latest addition to my collection of Regency satirical prints: A Parliamentary Toast by Thomas Rowlandson. Alas, mine isn’t so clean and bright, and it’s mounted on card. The officers are bantering on the price they paid to get their commissions. The recipient of their bribes was the Duke of York, or his mistress Mrs. Clarke, who was proven to have worked her will on him to corrupt the military promotion process. She wrote a scandalous memoir that was suppressed only with difficulty.
Of course, there had to be more than mere money involved, don’t you think? The fellow sitting on the far right urges, “Come Jack, honor us with a toast,” and the standing officer obliges with a pun on the male anatomy: “Here is the Lady that can raise five hundred members!!“
Rowlandson did a series of prints on this scandal. The one directly below makes an oblique reference to Mrs. Clarke’s female anatomy, which is the sure road to advancement.