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“Alas! Poor Lindley Murray!”

Topic:
John Logan
Source:
Harper's Weekly
Cartoonist:
Thomas Nast
Date:
August 2, 1884, p. 507
Click for image enlargement and complete HarpWeek explanation >
Lindley Murray (1745-1826) was the author of books on English grammar and spelling which were used widely in American schools during the 19th century. This cartoon has a double purpose. It lampoons the reputation of Senator John Logan, the Republican vice-presidential nominee, for butchering the English language. It also criticizes the foreign policy of Republican presidential nominee James Blaine, the former secretary of state. Cartoonist Thomas Nast and other Mugwumps were concerned about what they considered to be Blaine's bellicose views and actions in the realm of international affairs. Blaine's exclamation, "By jingo," is a pun on the candidate's nickname, "Jingo Jim," a term highlighting his allegedly aggressive, saber-rattling foreign policy. During the 1884 campaign, Blaine often criticized the British government in an attempt to gain the votes of Irish-Americans. By Blaine's failure to carry out his words in this cartoon, however, Nast indicates that the nominee's position on the English may be part of his characteristic bluster. In the background, the artist has sketched John Bull, the symbol of Great Britain, in front of London's Big Ben clock tower. The caption mimics Shakespeare's Hamlet: "Alas! Poor Yorrick!"
Click for image enlargement and complete HarpWeek explanation >

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