Seldom in English history has the political stage been so polarized, colourful and assorted as it was in the years leading up to publication of The Anti-Jacobin. The genes of the two principal antagonists, Charles Fox and William Pitt, might have chosen by some unholy heavenly prankster determined to give Gillray, Wigstead and Rowlandson perfect contrasts for cartoons. At every level from the physical to the spiritual these two men epitomized opposite corners of the English psyche, evoking the contests of the 1790s. Fox was short, dark, rotund, hirsute, dissolute, gregarious and slovenly. Pitt was skinny, controlled, pallid, private and (seemingly) ascetic. Both were superb public speakers. In an age of brilliant debating they were head and shoulders above all competitors, save Burke, but their styles could not have been more different:

I doubt whether at any period or in any language two such orators as Mr. Fox and Mr. Pitt ever appeared at the same time in the same assembly. At any rate, those who witnessed their debates in the House of Commons have heard the art of public and unpremeditated speaking in as great perfection as human faculties exercised in our language can attain ... [I cannot] believe that any man could without premeditation rival the luminous arrangement, the propriety and splendour of diction of [Mr. Pitt]; or the rapidity, the force of argument, the pleasantry of illustration, the originality and simplicity of thought, the animation and vehemence of [Mr. Fox]. 1