Two judges seated in discussion on the left; and John Bull showing the back of his workhouse suit to a gentleman. Woodcut by C.J. Grant, ca. 1834.

  • Grant, C. J. (Charles Jameson), active 1830-1852.
  • Pictures

About this work


The scene on the left features two judges wearing wigs in discussion over politics. The judge on the left declares: 'You see my dear broom I have in the case of the Whigs v. Hetherington, gives a verdict for the defendant...' His colleague on the right (Lord Brougham) replies, 'Yes, and against yourselves also: you decided against yourselves, the unstamp'd had the triumph...'. The scene on the right shows John Bull wearing a workhouse suit standing outside 'Workhouse no 5000'. He asks the gentleman in a bowler hat to his left 'how do I look in this grey dress? -ech!' to which the gentleman replies 'Admirable! it fits you to a T!! You see how we Whigs have your welfare at heart with all your prejudice against me. Look but around ye, and see how amply we have provided for you in poverty or old age. Should you ever want the ready or be a cripple, which G-d knows, are things not impossible in these awful times; see these superb Bashaw buildings, these numerous workhouses, likee so many poor man's guardians covering the land, and say you've cause to bless the Whigs...'

On the Whig policy on tackling poverty in their amendment to the Poor Law Bill in 1834. Poverty was not seen as a social problem during the 19th century: destitution was felt to be the result of character weakness. It was this attitude that led to the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act. It was believed that those in dire need would accept the workhouse. The aim of the workhouse was to discourage people from claiming poor relief and conditions were to be made as forbidding as possible. The new Poor Law was seen as the final solution to the problem of pauperism, which would improve the moral character of the working man, but it did not in the end provide any such solution. It improved neither the material nor moral condition of the working class although it was less inhumane than its opponents alleged. The 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act was ruthlessly and efficiently enforced in rural southern England as soon as it was passed, and was exceedingly unpopular. It was not implemented in the north until later


[London](12 Houghton Street, Clare Market) : G. Drake, [1834?]

Physical description

1 print : woodcut ; sheet 28.1 x 43.7 cm


The political drama. No. 41 Lettering continues below images: 'A tete a tete. A couple of good judges at all events'; 'John Bull trying on his workhouse suit provided for him by the Whig Poor Laws amendment bill'

References note

Not found in: British Museum Catalogue of political and personal satires, London 1870-1954


Wellcome Collection 643468i


Where to find it

  • LocationStatusAccess
    Closed stores

Permanent link