Preparing for War

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Preparing for War
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George Cruikshank

Preparing for War

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

Etching

Original hand colouring

210 x 503 mm

Traces of old folds as issued.

£420

An elaborate design. In the centre a bull, John Bull, standing heavily chained and garlanded with flowers, on a sacrificial pyre of logs. On the pyre is a placard: 'Sacred to the Bourbon Cause And dedicated to the Downfall of illegitimate Tyranny'. Across the bull's back hangs a cloth inscribed: 'Land Tax Ditto Personal—Tax on Windows, Dogs, Houses, Servants Clerks Shopmen, Carts Hair Powder Horses, waiters, Travellers, income Amorial [sic] Bears Property Tax Stamp . . .' He snorts and bellows: "Alass & must I come to this!—have I bled for so many years in your service & will you now take my life." On each of his horns is a little cap, one inscribed 'Cap of Liberty', the other 'Law of Libel'. He faces Vansittart in his Chancellor of the Exchequer's gown, who has a crown in place of a head, and stands on the rim of a large tub, across which he straddles, raising a huge spiked axe, inscribed 'New War Taxes'; with this he is about to smite the bull, saying, "No grumbling Johnny, you are a Noble sacrifice & worthy of the Cause." Between Vansittart and the bull Castlereagh stands on a truncated column; blandly oratorical, he spreads his hands: "Better to die Johnny then live & see thrive the thing we hate—let us Arm—war,—war, interminable war I say, down with the regicide no quarter to the Usurper—so I said at congress so I now repeat & if it is your fate to Expire at the Alter Johnny, all I ask is that I may live to preach your funeral Sermon." Facing the pyre (left) stands Liverpool in profile to the right, wearing the oversleeves and apron of a butcher; with a melancholy air he sharpens a big knife. Beside him lies a firebrand which has already kindled the funeral pyre. Against the right of Vansittart's tub (which seems to be empty and is certainly not full), a sinister little creature is sitting; he turns its tap, holding open a bag inscribed 'Secret Service'. A chain of grotesque little creatures extends from the tub to the right margin; they are wide-mouthed bags with (bare) arms and legs, twelve in all, two inscribed: 'Contract[ors]'; three, 'for Subsidys', others 'for the Army, Navy'. They approach the tub, some holding out receptacles; smallest, but in the forefront, is 'Civil List'. In the left corner of the design the Regent sprawls on a throne, his left foot on a stool. On his right crouches a stay-maker, measuring his waist; on his left is a barber who trims his whiskers; on a stool behind him is McMahon combing his hair. The Regent turns up his eyes, saying complacently to McMahon: "Why this looks like War! order me a brilliant Fete, send me a Myriad of Cooks & Scullions, say to me no more of Civil lists and deserted wives but of lacivious Mistresses & Bachanalian Orgies—to it Pell-Mell—my soul is eager for the fierce encounter—what—are my Whiskers easier than they were?" (The words from 'but' to 'Orgies' have been scored through but left legible.) The stay-maker: "I think these will be the best stays Your Highness has had yet." McMahon: "Your Highness shall in all things be obey'd." The draped canopy above the throne has a fringe of wine-glasses, and a border on which bottles are depicted. Two naked women are depicted in the folds of the drapery. Round the canopy is a garland of vine-leaves and grapes, and a decanter hangs from its centre by a cork-screw. Behind these foregound scenes extends a narrow strip of water representing the English Channel. On the right, and behind the gaping bags, is a cliff, at the edge of which is Napoleon on a snorting charger; he turns in his saddle to address an officer who stands behind him: "Let loose the Dogs of War!" The officer raises his arms, a large key in one hand; he looks down delighted at a pack of savage dogs, saying, "Here is a glorious pack already sniffing human blood & fresh for Slaughter—on comrades on! the word is Buonaparte Belzebub & blood." The dogs rush from a doorway (right) from which issue also flames and smoke; one is 'Rapine', another, 'Murder'. A pendant to this on the left is Louis XVIII in armour, bestriding a sorry horse or mule with the head of Talleyrand. He holds the bag-wig of his mount, whose off fore-leg has a surgical shoe, and supports himself in the saddle with a long crutch. His gouty leg is in a huge jack-boot. His helmet is topped by a fleur-de-lis. Behind him (left) march two aged soldiers carrying across their shoulders in place of muskets long medicine-bottles, one labelled 'Louis XVIII, Eau Medicinal'. Two cannon stand on gun-carriages formed of rolls of 'Flannel'. The King says: "Well—we've Tally for the Feild to morrow! but don't forget the Eau Medicinal & the Fleecy Hosiery alass these gouty limbs are but ill adapted to jack boots & spurs, I think I had better fight my battles over a cool bottle with my Friend George." Behind him the ground slopes to the background; on it are endless columns of tiny marching men. An officer sharpens his sword at a grindstone, another uses a hone.