John Bull's three stages or, from good to bad & from bad to worse

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John Bull's three stages or, from good to bad & from bad to worse
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George Cruikshank

John Bull's three stages or, from good to bad & from bad to worse.

London, M. Jones March 1st .1815, The Scourge


Original hand colouring

225 x 510 mm

Traces of old folds as issued.


A sequence of three designs, placed side by side, each with a caption. [1] 'Before the War—' John Bull, a 'cit', dines with his wife and infant son, waited on by a footman in livery, who brings in a pie. John sits full-face, fat, bloated, facing his plump wife; the little boy, in a high child's chair, turns from the (round) table, clasping his stomach and saying, "I can't eat any more." On the table are a gigantic sirloin, a plum-pudding, a large frothing tankard inscribed '3d', and a decanter of 'Port'. The cloth hangs to the floor. John's well-fed dog lies asleep between a well-filled wine-cooler, a covered dish, empty bottle, and plate. A well-furnished room is indicated, with clock and ornaments on the chimney-piece. John guzzles and grumbles (as in No. 8145): "Ah, happy Country if Ministers were but honest & Patriots sincere thy Princes neither litigious or Ambitious—these are the Blessings we might always enjoy—Plenty would attend upon industry—monopoly would cease & Liberty guide the sail of Commerce—no more pudding boy?—come have another plate:" [2] 'During the War—' The same family some six years later, sit at a similar table covered with a short dilapidated cloth. The child is a lank little boy on a high office-stool. A second child sits at the table, on a stool heightened by a 'Day Book' and 'Ledger'. The parents are less fat, but not thin. John carves a good-sized sirloin, the only food on the table except for a tankard inscribed '4 1/2 d'. All have empty plates, and ask for more; the infant says: "I want some more meat." A dog and cat, both thin, feed on bones. John (left): "Curse on this necessary War say I. it has deprived us of all the necessaries of life— give you some Beef Child! why it is eating gold—you have had enough—Chains have become an Englishmans Liberty!—his boasted independence!!!—beggary & ruin his inheritance—The Tax on my House, on my Window lights on my property on my Salt my Hat my Dog with a Thousand etceteras has exhausted my means, & left me little better than a bare bone. Oh! for a peace a lasting & a permanent Peace!!!!—" [3] '—Peace with all the World'. The family is emaciated and ragged. John (right) sits despairingly, holding a (broken) carving-knife and fork before a dish of bones. There is a tankard inscribed '6d'. On the wall are (1) a picture, (2) a print, and (3) a bill representing the three stages: a portrait of John and his wife, both grossly fat; a print of a snorting bull carrying an enormous burden of 'Taxes' [see No. 10728], and a bill: 'National Debt 950 millions'. Tea-things are ranged on the chimney-piece as in a proletarian garret. The boards are bare, the skimpy table-cloth tattered, the dog has disappeared, a starving cat miaows behind the younger child, who stands by the table, saying, "Give me some more Bone dady"; the others watch the dish in glum despair. John says: "Are these the effects of Peace? is this the Peace we have been sighing for? Alass my good Old Sirloin is reduced to a bone, my Porter to a compound of Drugs & Soporifics I am borne down by fresh exactions of the State, by New, Taxes; more ruinous under a Peace establishment than those which propped up the late unhappy War—from what I was compare me with what I am: my limbs are wasting by consumption. I am but the mere Shadow of my former self. Hope has forsaken me—more bone child?—alass I have no more meat & these poor remnants of my prosperity can scarcely eke out another days subsistance."