This cartoon shows several ministers dancing wildly while a judge waves a sword at them from an open doorway. Its caption reads: 'THE REEL OF BOGIE!! / A CLERICAL DANCE. / Sometimes danced as a Foursome, sometimes as a Threesome, and sometimes as a Twoseome Reel. / "As Charlie [sic] glowr'd amazed and curious, / The mirth and fun grew fast and furious" - Burns.' The cartoonist's initials are given as 'D.D.' The lithographer was W. Nichol and the sheet was published by A. Lesage of 21 Hanover Street in Edinburgh. It may date from between 1833 and 1842, when Lesage is known to have had premises there.
The various figures in this cartoon are proclaiming things as they dance. One shouts 'A fig for the Court of Session'. Another holds aloft a flag which reads 'RETRACT!!! NO!! NOT A HAIR'S BREADTH'. A picture on the wall behind them shows Nero fiddling while Rome burns.The cartoon seems to imply arguments between the various ministers, and the caption suggests that they seem to form and break alliances regularly. It may well be a reference to the series of disputes in the Church of Scotland which eventually led to the Disruption of 1843.
The Disruption was the culmination of a long-standing series of disputes between the evangelical and moderate wings of the Church of Scotland. Although there were various doctrinal differences, at the heart of the crisis was the debate about who had the right to choose a minister. The evangelicals believed that the congregation should vote for the minster, while the moderates believed that the local landowner or patron should have the final decision. The Disruption occurred at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, when 474 ministers walked out and founded the Free Church.
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