This image from the 18th century satirises the parliamentary oratory of MP Richard Brinsley Sheridan, renowned for his long-winded speeches and slavish devotion to Whig politics. Lampoons and caricatures such as this typify the politics of the 18th century, which after the 1770s exploited a freedom of thought and expression rarely seen before. Caricatures were printed by their thousand each year, with all manner of intentions and targets in mind. Some simply offered a wry commentary on fashion or taste, while others directly satirised political leaders and members of the royal family. So worried was George IV with the ability of cartoons to turn public attitudes against him that in 1820 he bribed caricaturist George Cruikshank £100 not to mock him in print.