May 7, 2012

But even as Garrick extricated Shakespearean characters into the pageantry of the Jubilee, or re-wrote and improved upon Shakespearean texts for London theatre-goers, others extracted from a popular knowledge of Shakespeare for political commentary.

In Isaac Cruikshank’s 1799 Ghost, or, the closet scene in Hamlet, the monarch–“George”—is visited by the ghost of William Pitt, who tells him that they will drink a glass of burgundy together within the fortnight, but “Don’t be frightened George don’t be frightened.” To the side, the observer comments, “is that William? Send him to Ireland Send him to Ireland.”

Isaac Cruikshanks, The ghost, or, The closet scene in Hamlet!! ([London], 1799).  From the collections of the Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University


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