<Go back to the People Index results>

Complete Explanation:
The second of two satires by Chambers on events surrounding the killing of Maine Congressman Jonathan Cilley by Kentucky Representative William J. Graves in a February 24, 1838, duel. (See also "Scene in Washington. Sunday Feby. 25.," no. 1838-17.) Whig editor James Watson Webb was largely blamed for provoking the match. Here the artist ridicules Webb's claim, published in the "New York American," that he initially intended to persuade Cilley to face him instead of Graves. Should Cilley have refused, Webb allegedly planned to shoot him in the right arm, preventing the duel. In a ludicrous scene, Chambers shows Webb rehearsing his plan in Gadsby's Hotel in Washington with accomplices Daniel Jackson (far left) and one Major Morell. The two hold the arms of a seated black minstrel "Boots," who stands in for Cilley, as Webb aims his pistol at the victim.

Jackson: "I will enter first, as I once belonged to the Party, he will not suspect me: I will talk about Indian Contracts, Blankets &c. till a chance offers to sieze him, or knock him down: when you Maj: and the Col. [Webb] must rush in and do your parts: am I not 'a second Daniel.'"

Morell (here identified as "Maj. Sturgeon"): "For fear he should be armed Dan, I will fill a gauze Bag full of Red Pepper, to dash in his face.

Webb (armed with two pistols, aiming one at "Boots"): Be sure you hold him fast, as I am told he is not to be trifled with, when I will say, 'Sir, you must fight "me; this is my quarrel:'" if he refuses to do so, or say that I am a "Gentleman," I will shatter his right Arm by G**!!!!!"

Boots: "Ah you sure he no loaded? O! massa Col. if your kurige hold um out, t'will be a scene ob de biggest kind ob interestariety."

The print's title continues: "And rehearsed with the assistance of Boots, in front of Gadsby's large Mirror, by these Chivalric individuals; shewing the exact attitude the "Hero" of the "Piece Was" to take, to shatter a man's right arm, like a "Gentleman." Drawn by permission & sanctioned by the famous "Earl" of "Dartmoor," the Grand Knight Templar of this New Code of Honor!!!!" (Dartmoor was an English prison notorious for its barbaric conditions.)

As in "Scene in Washington," Webb is accompanied by a turkey in full plumage, a reference to his flamboyant and pompous personality. Here a spider web (a punning clue to his name, which is otherwise not given in the print) stretches from his left arm to his side.

Website design © 2010 HarpWeek, LLC
All Content © 1998-2010 HarpWeek, LLC
Please submit questions to webmaster@harpweek.com