Beth Voisey

HOFFMAN, F. Two Very Odd Characters tho’ the number be Even (London, 1714)


The images contained within the pamphlet ‘Two very odd characters tho’ the number be even’ are early examples of political cartoons dating from 1714, printed and most likely distributed in London. In the 18th Century due to ‘Britain’s lack of censorship laws’1 political satire in the form of cartoons were not only popular, but uncontrollable by the establishment. In this case the ‘Tory Bee’ ridicules the ‘Whigg Flesh Fly’. The difference between the two political parties was striking and the cartoon highlights this. Members of the Whig party were born into their profession, much like an aristocrat in the House of Lords; meanwhile a Tory had to work his way up through the ranks of the party and even then had no guarantee of election.

‌The first image of a large fly being ridiculed by an early Mr. Punch is surrounded by text that provides a baffling feeling to the image; perhaps an indication of the baffling speeches of the Whig politicians of the day.


The second image illustrates the bee gathering nectar from the rose; even viewed through modern eyes this image sends a clear message of the ‘industrious Tory Bee’ tending the rose that represented England.

OSBORNE, P, Duke of Leeds. A Journal of the Brest Expedition (London, 1694)


This map from 1694 details the line of battle from the attempt by the British and Dutch to capture the French port of Brest and destroy the French ships anchored there2. It is found at the start of ‘A Journal of the Brest Expedition’ and folds out to form a map of some detail. Both shore and sea forces are shown clearly as well notable landmarks. The attack on Brest occurred in the latter part of the Nine Years War in the late seventeenth century and ended in defeat for the combined British and Dutch forces attacking the port.

The map, and indeed, the journal it illustrates give a strong impression of a force that heavily outnumbered the French; despite this the ensuing battle ended in defeat for the attacking forces. The journal was written by the Lord Marquis of Carmarthen, who had been present during the expedition, and printed for Randal Taylor near Amen Corner, London. The Amen Corner referred to was probably the site near St Paul’s Churchyard and Fleet Street where many printers and booksellers were housed during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

JOHN, P. A Relation or Diary of the Siege of Vienna (London, 1684)


‌This map comes from ‘A Relation or Diary of the Siege of Vienna’ written by John Peter in 1684. It details the besieging of Vienna by the Ottoman Empire in 1683 and the subsequent lifting of the siege by the Holy Roman Empire and its allies. The map gives an in depth view of the Turkish camp as seen by its enemies. The work is written in English and was published in London to be sold by London booksellers around St Paul’s Churchyard. As the British had no involvement in the siege it could be concluded that this publication is a seventeenth century current affairs and world news supplement. It gives in depth information from an eyewitness’s point of view as to the siege and military proceedings and could therefore also be seen as an instructive piece as well as an informative one. As the title page states that the printed copy was ‘drawn from the original’ it can also be reasonably supposed that multiple copies were drafted and printed in several European languages. The Diary overall gives a strong impression of how powerful both the Ottoman and Holy Roman Empire were at this period; especially when viewed through the numbers of fighters present on both sides which ran into the hundred-thousands.

1. K. Rath, Political Cartoons: Britain’s Revolutionaries (London: BBC, 2012)

2. Marlborough and the Brest Expedition, The English Historical Review 9, 33 (1894). pp. 130-132.

Beth Voisey