Winfield Scott's controversial performance as commander in the War of 1812 battle at Lundy's Lane turned to account by the artist in this parody of the general's candidacy in 1852. The battle of Lundy's Lane against the British in Canada in 1814, considered by Scott a personal triumph, was in fact a questionable victory in which the wisdom of Scott's strategy and tactics had been disputed.
Here, Scott's abolitionist supporters for the Whig presidential nomination, William Seward (holding Scott by the tails) and Horace Greeley (kneeling at far right), hesitate to let Scott join the "Whig Chorus" on the left, knowing the general's well-known propensity for "faux pas" and imprudent remarks. The general's managers did in fact try to preserve his silence on the major issues before the June 1852 Whig Convention. Seward and Greeley's reluctance here also stems from the party's endorsement of the Compromise of 1850, including the controversial Fugitive Slave Act, as part of its platform. Both avowed antislavery men, Seward and Greeley opposed the measure and wanted to prevent Scott's endorsement of it.
With raised sword, Scott tries to rush forward toward the Whig Chorus. The dialogue is set to the tune of "Will you come to bower." The chorus sings:
"Will you come to the meeting we've got up for you?
Your feast shall be hasty soup with your favorite Irish stew.
Will you, . . . come to Lundy's lane!
Will you &c.
There on our Platform you can either stand or lie,
With a smile on your cheek and a drop in your eye
Wont you, . . . come to Lundy's lane!
Wont you &c."
The reference to a "hasty soup" goes back to Scott's Mexican War days. (See "Distinguished Military Operations," no. 1846-15.) The "Irish stew" allusion may be a sarcasm on Scott's reputed nativist leanings before the Mexican War. Behind the chorus is a camp with a large cauldron (probably soup) on a fire and soldiers in ranks. A nearby flag staff flies American and British flags.
Scott responds to the call:
"I will come to the meeting if Bill Seward lets me go,
But what I say when I get there I'm sure I do not know.
I will come . . . to Lundy's lane.
I will come &c.
I will take a hasty plate of soup and a smell of Irish stew,
And all sorts of contradictions I will make clear as mud to you.
Wont I come, . . . to Lundy's lane?
Wont I come &c."
"You cant go to the meeting for you know you are not well,
And you'll make a Judy of yourself I surely do foretell
You cant go, . . .to Lundy's lane.
You cant go &c.
Greeley, weeping, implores Seward:
"Dont let him go to the meeting! With his feathers and his fuss,
He'll certainly expose himself and play the deuce with us.
Dont let him go, . . . to Lundy's lane!
Dont let him go &c.
Scott's concern with image and decorum earned him the nickname "Old Fuss and Feathers."