The Dryads of Disfranchisement

The Dryads of Disfranchisement. Wallis MacKay, artist, and Dalziel, engraver. Fun 5 (15 June 1867). Text beneath caption: Chorus of Dryads (by M. P.s for threatened boroughs: — “Oh Woodsman, spare this tree!” W.W., artist. Dalziel, engraver. Source: Hathi Digital Library Trust web version of a copy in the University of Minnesota library. Click on image to enlarge it.

The cartoonist here combines the notion that dryads are spirits that inhabit individual trees, or are the spirits of the trees themselves, with the title of a very popular drawing room or parlor song — Oh Woodsman, spare that tree! (1837) with lyrics by George Pope Morris (1802-64), music by Henry Russell (1812-1900). [Click here to listen to a performance of this song by Derek B. Scott, Professor of Critical Musicology, University of Leeds, and the Victorian Web’s Editor for Music.]

The names of the so-called “rotten boroughs,” those with too few voters to count fairly as a voting district (often under the control of a wealthy landowner) appear on the trunks: Wakefield, Totnes, Yarmouth, Calne, and Wells along with the faces representing those M. P.s who will lose their seats. (I don’t know if they are actual portraits.) They plead with Disraeli, the woodsman. —  George P. Landow

[You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the Hathi Digital Library Trust and the University of Minnesota library and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. ]

Last modified 2 April 2016