Preparing John Bull for General Congress

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Preparing John Bull for General Congress
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George Cruikshank

Preparing John Bull for general Congress.

London, M. Jones August 1st. 1813, The Scourge

Etching

Original hand colouring

205 x 498 mm

Traces of old folds as issued, neat marginal repair.

£550

John Bull, a giant beset by pigmies, sits on a bank with his back against a massive oak, his legs wide apart. He is a 'cit' with his wig awry; his right arm, inscribed 'Ireland', is extended; an Irish peasant, wearing a rosary, stands on it, slashing it with a (notched) headsman's axe inscribed 'Catholic Bill'; blood gushes from a deep gash at the shoulder. The Irishman asks: "Johnny how do you like the Union! how do you like emancipation?!!!" The left arm, inscribed 'Hanover', is already cut off and is carried by two French ragamuffins, one wearing a bonnet rouge, towards Napoleon who is enthroned on a drum under a tent on the extreme right. An oval, inscribed 'Guadaloupe', is being dragged from John's mouth by Bernadotte, who has transfixed it with a hook tied to a rope at which he is tugging. He is a grotesque figure in uniform holding a dagger dripping blood in his left hand; he says: "Give me this Cake John— it is too large for your Swallow & by your leave I will take a little Blood from you to prevent your dying of Plethora." A demon with one claw-like foot dug into John's thigh, holds a 'Sweedish Tap Tub' to catch guineas which spout from an incision in the victim's waistcoat. He is a grotesque emaciated creature, with a spiny backbone, and says, grinning horribly, "Poor John Bull ha! ha ha!" John's right leg, inscribed 'West Indies', is being peppered by an American gun-boat. His left leg is inscribed 'East Indies' and two opposed parties of tiny men are tugging at it: on the left two men tug at a bandage above the ankle inscribed 'Free Trade'; they are lean and ragged; one, who holds his companion round the waist, says: "A long pull & a Strong pull & a pull Alltogather." The other three (right) tug at a ligature round the knee inscribed 'Monopoly', they are fat 'cits', one with gouty feet. The last man, holding the latter's coat-tails, says, "Here we go Johnny two to one we win the day." John, much distressed, says: "Have mercy on me & do not send me thus maimed to congress I can hardly distinguish Friend from Foe in the severity of my sufferings." On the extreme left is the sea; a half-decked vessel with a cannon in the bows flies a pennant inscribed 'President'. An American naval officer applies a match and flame from the muzzle strikes John's right leg, the W. Indies, at close range. He says: "D—n that Bull Dog the Shannon he has gored the Cheesapeak. if the English Ministers will but keep him out of our way we'll pepper this leg." The bull-dog, inscribed 'British Navy', is savagely leaping from beside John Bull towards the vessel; he wears a spiked collar but is closely muzzled and barks: "Take off my Muzzle! let me get at him. Bow woo woo." Behind the mast which supports a small patched sail, a ragged American wearing a bonnet rouge on his straggly hair, stands dejectedly in profile to the right with flexed knees, fingers together. A third man, much alarmed, probably Madison, holds the tiller. The stars and stripes flag is tattered. Clouds surround the vessel. Napoleon, aggressive but alarmed, sits under an open tent on the extreme right, watching the approach of 'Hanover'. He wears a large feathered bicorne and heavy jack-boots, his right leg is supported on a terrestrial globe which serves as footstool and which he gashes with his spur; his left hand rests on his sabre, his right is on his hip. Behind him (left) stands a terrified Mameluke (Roustan) holding a tall pike. On his left are a cannon and a pyramid of cannon-balls. He says: "When you have finished your labors Gentlemen bring him [John Bull] to me & I will prepare his Epitaph." In the foreground, in front of the mound on which Napoleon's tent is placed, are two figures. A naked infant, smiling, holds on his shoulders a large sack from which coins drop; it is inscribed: 'For the Brave Wellington Johnny's Free gift in aid of successful Valor & a Glorious Cause £1000'. On the extreme right a plump demon, whose naked body resembles a sack, runs off to the right (it evidently derives from No. 6991 by Gillray). Round its neck is a label: 'Sicilian Subsidy 10000£'; coins drop from a rent.