Tuesday, April 3, 2012
I wonder, too, about Mr. Sage, that shadowy figure who lurks somewhere in the background. He may have been one of the two sons of John Sage, haberdasher, of Cheapside, who were listed as scholars of St. Paul’s School in 1748: John junior, aged 8, or his younger brother Isaac, aged 7. This would place either one within plausible range of Letitia Anne Hoare in the late 1770s or early 1780s. Presumably one or either of them, or indeed another member of the same family of haberdashers in due course successfully lifted the business into partnership: Sage, Rawdon & Atkinson, listed in the Directory of London for 1794, where they are described slightly more aspirationally as “Wholesale Linen-drapers,” though still at Cheapside, number 19 to be exact. However, as we have seen, by that time Mrs. Sage had moved on, and is said to have been living with the purser of an East Indiaman. She is therefore safe from any association, however distant, with the scenario described here in Following the Fashion, James Gillray’s vicious satire of the mid-1790s. Predictably, the unfortunate figure on the right represents Cheapside, “a body without a soul,” in fact “aping the Mode” of St. James’s, on the left, who is naturally “a soul without a body.” As we have seen, Mrs. Sage demonstrated beyond question that she was in comfortable possession of both.