Tag Archives: Joshua Kirby

Method of Perspective

Joshua Kirby’s main claim to fame rests on his book, Method of Perspective, or, to give its full title in the 18th century way, `Dr. Brook Taylor’s Method of Perspective Made Easy, Both in Theory and Practice. In Two Books. Being an Attempt to make the Art of Perspective easy and familiar; To Adapt it intirely to the Arts of Design; And To make it an entertaining Study to any Gentleman who shall chuse so polite an Amusement’.

A textbook on perspective may not seem an obvious sequel to his previous antiquarian volume, `An Historical Account of the Twelve Prints of Monasteries, Castles, antient churches, and Monuments, in the County of Suffolk’. While the earlier work had been successful, it was targeted at a Suffolk audience of clergymen, gentry, and local politicians. The Method of Perspective drew in an quite different subscriber list, as we shall see, despite Kirby’s remaining attention to ‘Gentlemen’ and their Amusements. By this time, 1754, Kirby was good friends with both the young Thomas Gainsborough, and the much older William Hogarth. Hogarth supported the endeavor. In his own book, Analysis of Beauty, published in 1753, the only mention of perspective is to give a reference to Kirby’s forthcoming work. More famously, Hogarth supplied the eccentric, and wonderful, frontispiece to Kirby’s book, the Satire on False Perspective, now reproduced in almost every book on perspective.

Related Posts

Who was Brook Taylor?

Brook Taylor’s Linear Perspective


Philip Broke

Philip Broke (1702—1762) subscribed to both Kirby’s Historical Account, and the first edition of his Method of Perspective. We saw that Kirby had eight of the current Suffolk MPs as subscribers when his first book was published, but his reach did not end there.

Philip Broke was a former MP, having represented Ipswich from 1730 to 1732. The Broke Family had owned Broke Hall in Nacton, about five or six miles from Ipswich, since the time of Henry VIII. The old Hall was knocked down and rebuilt in the 1790s.

The modern Broke Hall

Philip was the second of three sons of Robert Broke and Elizabeth Hewytt. However, his eldest brother died unmarried, so that Philip inherited. The other brother, John, was a rector of Hintleham. Philip married Anne Bowse and they had six daughters and one son. Thomas Bardwell painted portraits of Philip and Anne, and also a conversation piece of the Broke and Bowse families.

The second work was painted in 1740, so the child is presumably their eldest daughter, Anne. The couple married in 1732, while Philip was MP. As a politician, Broke seems to have been fairly undistinguished. He was a Tory and consistently voted against the government, but he never returned after his first parliament. The Brokes were also near neighbors of Admiral Vernon, who was MP for Ipswich in the 1740s.

Philip and Anne’s only son, also called Philip, married Elizabeth Beaumont, daughter of another subscriber, Charles Beaumont, and one of their children, Sir Philip Bowes Vere Broke, was captain of HMS Shannon when she captured the USS Chesapeake in the War of 1812.

Related Posts:

A Clique of Politicians

Charles and Robert Beaumont

Edward Vernon

Beer and Gin

The early 1700s was the time of the gin craze. Far from its modern image of G&Ts for the gin and Jag set, this was the cheap gin of Mother’s Ruin, with the slogan “Drunk for a Penny, Dead Drunk for Twopence, Straw for Nothing.” Gin was the drink of the poor who had nothing else. As Paulson notes, “For the poor man of this period, as Francis Place wrote, ‘none but the animal sensations are left; to these his enjoyments are limited, and even these are frequently reduced to two—namely sexual intercourse and drinking…Of the two…drunkenness is by far the most desired’ since it provides a longer period of escape and costs only a penny” [1991, III 25]. The sad fact is that Francis Place was writing a century later.

The gin craze got worse during the 1740s and the increased consumption of gin was seen (by the propertied classes in London) as contributing to crime. The magistrate (and author) Henry Fielding, who confronted poor criminals on a daily basis, was perturbed. He wrote a tract, An Enquiry into the Causes of the Late Increase of Robbers, published in January 1751. To increase the impact of his Enquiry, he turned to his friend William Hogarth, presumably before the Enquiry was published, and Hogarth in turn produced his famous pendant pair of prints, Beer Street and Gin Lane.

The anti-gin campaign led to the passing of the Gin Act later in 1751 and gin consumption declined dramatically over the next decade.

Hogarth’s prints have been much-analyzed and indeed are very rewarding of analysis, but I do not want to talk about their content here. Instead, we note Hogarth’s advertisement for the prints, which appeared in the London Evening Post of February 14–16 1751.

This Day are publish’d, Price 1 s. each.
Two large Prints, design’d and etch’d by Mr. Hogarth called
A Number will be printed in a better Manner for the Curious, at 1s. 6d. each.
And on Thursday following will be publish’d four Prints on the Subject of Cruelty, Price and Size the same.
N.B. As the Subjects of these Prints are calculated to reform some reigning Vices peculiar to the lower Class of People, in hopes to render them of more extensive use, the Author has published them in the cheapest Manner possible.
To be had at the Golden Head in Leicester-Fields, Where may be had all his other Works.

While a price of one shilling kept the prints out of the hands of “the lower Class of People”, it did get them into taverns and coffee-houses, where they achieved wide display.

These prints also provide the first clear evidence of a connection between Hogarth and Kirby, for already by 9 March, Kirby was advertising Hogarth’s prints in the Ipswich Journal.

This Day are Publish’d, (Price 1s. each) Two large PRINTS, design’d and etch’d by Mr. Hogarth, call’d BEER-STREET and GIN-LANE. A Number will be printed in a better Manner for the Curious, at 1s. 6d. each. Also Four Prints on the Subject of Cruelty, Price and Size the same.

N.B. As the Subjects of these Prints are calculated to reform some reigning Vices peculiar to the lower Class of People, in hopes to render them of more extensive Use, the Author has published them in the cheapest Manner possible.

To be had of Joshua Kirby in Ipswich, and of Mr. Hogarth at the Golden Head in Leicester-Fields; where may be had, all his other Works.

I don’t know that Hogarth had any other agents selling these prints.

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The Perils of Drink

A Clique of Politicians

Joshua Kirby was a surprisingly well-connected guy, albeit within a fairly limited geographical reach. One example is the Suffolk Members of Parliament. Kirby’s Twelve Prints and accompanying Historical Account were published in 1748. There was an election in 1747, and it is instructive to look at the members returned.

At the time, Suffolk returned two members who represented the county, and there were seven boroughs within the county, each of which also returned two members. Kirby seems not to have had any contacts in Bury St. Edmunds, Dunwich, or Eye, which were further away from Ipswich. However, of the ten politicians representing Suffolk, Aldeburgh, Ipswich, Orford, and Sudbury, fully eight were subscribers. The representatives were:

The two who did not subscribe were both newcomers to the political scene. Zachary Philip Fonnereau was Thomas Fonnereau’s younger brother; and Richard Rigby was the person sent in from London on the Prince of Wales’ interest.

While some people subscribed as a matter of public duty, and the antiquarian nature of Kirby’s book may have been attractive, others on this list seem to have rarely subscribed. Kirby had corralled quite a collection of subscribers.

In graph theory a clique is a complete subgraph. The term comes from social network theory, and in Kirby’s context means a collection of subscribers all of whom knew each other. Given the intimate nature of Suffolk politics, and the fact that some of these men were politically active for decades, we can assume that they were all acquainted. Kirby’s subscriber graph has an 8-vertex MP clique.

And here is a draft showing the clique with names.

John Affleck

John Affleck (1710—1776), subscribed to Kirby’s Twelve Prints and Historical Account. At the time he was MP for Suffolk, along with Sir Cordell Firebrace. John Affleck’s grandfather bought Dalham Hall in Suffolk, and this is where John and his siblings grew up. Dalham Hall Gilbert Affleck was himself an MP, sitting for Cambridge from 1722 to 1727, and again from 1737 to 1741. The election of 1737 was particularly hard-fought and the papers enjoyed giving blow-by-blow accounts of the campaign. The Stamford Mercury of 20 January 1737 carried this report:

We are advis’d from Cambridge, that a greater Struggle was never known for a Representative in Parliament for that Corporation than at present: That no less than 33 Persons from London only, posted to that Town within these three Days, to take up their Freedoms (Tuesday being a grand Common Day) and qualify themselves to vote at the ensuing Election: That the Freemen never lead merrier Lives than of late, no Night passing without their meeting at one or other House on Account of the Rival Candidates; That Mr. Affleck’s Friends, offer great Odds against their Opponents; whilst on the other hand, Mr. Ascham’s Party, with Sir John Cotton’s Interst, leave no Stone unturn’d to defeat their Adversaries Designs.

In the event, Affleck won the battle for votes by 131 to 115, a majority of just 16. When not fighting for votes in Cambridge, Gilbert Affleck and his wife Anna Dolben busied themselves raising an extensive family. Inevitably, some of the children died young, and accounts vary about how many there were, but it was around twenty. John Affleck was the second son, but the first, also named John, had died in infancy. Poor Mrs. Affleck came to a sad end, as reported in the Ipswich Journal of 29 December 1744.

On Monday last the Lady of Gilbert Affleck, Esq; of Dalham in Suffolk, was unfortunately burnt to Death at the aforesaid Seat; a Servant being sent up to fetch Mrs. Affleck down to Dinner, found her fallen into the Fire, her Cloaths burnt off her Back, and some Part of her Body consum’d to Ashes; ’tis suppos’d she fell down in an Apoplectick Fit. Mrs. Affleck had been married upwards of 30 Years, and been Mother of 22 Children.

John Affleck himself married Sarah Metcalfe, who came with a substantial fortune; they had fewer than 22 children. A younger brother of John, Edmund Affleck, went to sea, became a captain in 1757 and served throughout the Seven Years’ War. Staying in the Navy, by 1782 we was in command of the Bedford in the Caribbean and won a famous action against the French, for which he was created a Baronet and promoted to Rear Admiral.

Sir Cordell Firebrace

Sir Cordell Firebrace (1712—1759) subscribed to Kirby’s Twelve Prints and Historical Account. He was one of the two MPs for Suffolk at the time, representing the county from 1735 until 1759. He was considered a reliable Tory and consistently voted against the Whig government, although he rarely gave speeches and never held high office. His grandfather had been a vintner in London, and his father lived in Leciestershire. However, his mother, Margaret Cordell was form Long Melford in Suffolk. Her father, Sir John Cordell had been an MP, as was her brother Sir John Cordell. He died from a fall from a horse in 1704, and Margaret and her sister inherited the estates. The Long Melford land passed down to Sir Cordell Firebrace, who at the time of Kirby’s book was estimated to have an annual income of £3500 and cash of £30,000. He could afford the book.

Melford Hall

Melford Hall is now owned by the National Trust. They have a portrait of the unfortunate John Cordell,

Sir John Cordell

and a miniature of Sir Cordell Firebrace.

Sir Cordell Firebrace

Perhaps a better sense of the interests of this Suffolk country gentleman is obtained from this picture, that is also still in Melford Hall.

Sir Cordell Firebrace’s Dogs by a Dead Hind

Sir Cordell Firebrace had the good fortune to marry a rich widow, Bridget Evers (née Bacon) and there is also a miniature portrait of Lady Firebrace at Melford Hall, painted to celebrate her marriage.

Lady Firebrace

Samuel Johnson dedicated a poem to her, although it is possibly not one of his greatest efforts.

To Lady Firebrace

At length must Suffolk beauties shine in vain,
So long renown’d in B—n’s deathless strain?
Thy charms at least, fair Firebrace, might inspire
Some zealous bard to wake the sleeping lyre:
For such thy beauteous mind and lovely face,
Thou seem’st at once, bright nymph, a Muse and Grace.

Earl of Effingham

Most of the subscribers to Kirby’s Twelve Prints and Historical Account were local Suffolk worthies, but the list does contain a few more exotic entries, such as the Earl of Effingham. One might wonder what such a grand and un-bookish personage is doing on the list. Effingham is in Surrey and the young (2d) Earl (1714—1763) was a soldier, as was his father before him. In the 1740s he was a colonel of Horse Guards, and, after inheriting the title on his father’s death in 1743, was appointed Deputy Earl Marshal of England. In 1749 he became an aide-de-camp to the king. A long way from an obscure house painter in Ipswich.

The connection lies in Kirby’s choice of monuments for his prints. Among them were the tomb of Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, the tomb of his son-in-law, Henry Fitzroy (as the name indicates, an illegitimate son of Henry VIII), and the tomb of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey. The Earls of Effingham were Howards, belonging to a cadet branch of the family, and so Thomas Howard, 2nd Earl of Effingham, subscribed.

It was his eldest son, Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Howard, 3rd Earl of Effingham, who resigned his commission rather than fight against the American colonists in the American Revolution, an act that led to him having a ship and two counties (in the US) named after him, but which did not prevent him from serving in his turn as Deputy Earl Marshal, nor from becoming Governor of Jamaica.