‘Eating the Leek’ (Henry V, Act V, Scene I), The Bulletin, 4 March 1893.

Henry V (4 March, 1893), Cover.jpg
Detail Henry V (4 March 1893).jpg

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‘Eating the Leek’ (Henry V, Act V, Scene I), The Bulletin, 4 March 1893.


Cartoon, Fluellen, Henry V, John Bull, medieval costume, Pistol, political cartoon, politics, Shakespeare, Sir George Richard Dibbs (1834-1904), Sir Robert William Duff (1835-1895), theatre, New South Wales, NSW politics, William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898), William Shakespeare (c.1564-1616).


This political cartoon by ‘Hop’ enacts a scene from William Shakespeare’s historical play, Henry V. In the scene, Fluellen the Welshman angrily berates the unfortunate Pistol, a crony of Sir John Falstaff, and forces him to eat a raw leek. The cartoon, Louise D’Arcens suggests, uses this rather cryptic information “to depict the recent appointment of the New South Wales governor Sir Robert Duff by the British Prime Minister Gladstone,” (Louise D’Arcens, Old Songs in the Timeless Land: Medievalism in Australian Literature 1840-1910, Turnhout, Brepols, 2011, p.182). The ‘leeks’ both seem equally unpalatable to the protesting recipient(s): Pistol and the Premier Sir George Dibbs respectively. The fact that Mr Gladstone and Her Majesty’s Government would appoint the next Governor without approval from the NSW Government indicates the lesson in humility that was forced upon the colony by Whitehall. Ironically, the John Bull figure holds a switch with the words ‘Silken Bond’ written upon it. This sounds suspiciously like “an iron fist in a velvet glove” rationale to contemporary ears.


Livingston York Hopkins (‘Hop’)


The Bulletin


The Bulletin


4 March 1893 (Cover)


Public Domain

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