Frankenstein Outdone

making a man.jpg
John Phillips (active 1825-1831), One of the Graces Making a Man; or Frankenstein Outdone, 1827. Hand colored etching. Graphic Arts GA British prints

On June 16, 1827, the actress Harriot Mellon (1777-1837) married William Beauclerk, 9th Duke of St. Albans (1801-1849). At age fifty, it was Harriot’s second marriage and William’s first. He was twenty-six. Harriot’s first marriage was to Thomas Coutts, a banker in his eighties.

There are two series of Mellon caricatures, the first making fun of her marriage to an old man (assuming it was for his money) and the second making fun of her marriage to a young man (portraying her as an over-powering matriarch). Harriot is usually given a mustache and seen taking control.

Here, the Duke is being measured for a new pair of trousers while his wife puts a feather in his cap. At her feet is a comic mask from the theater and bags of money (from her first husband). On the wall, we see the portrait of King Charles II and his mistress, the actress Eleanor (Nell) Gwynne.

Below the title:
Kings may boast of their efforts in making of Dukes
But those sages may try if they can,
With their planning and scheming and practice to boot,
Without money to make me a Man.

No, no! the wise elves to my Duchess must bow,
One and all must acknowledge her plan,
That with Staymakers, Tailors, and money, she now
Most completely has made me a Man.

And how wisely she’s acted we very well know;
‘Twas a Man that she wanted, she said
And the thing when once wanted, amongst high or low
Must be had, and the price must be paid

So with heart like a hero, & face like a Turk
She (her mind fully bent on the plan)
Mustacheo’d & whisker’d went boldly to work
And thus you see made me a Man.