Miller's Asses

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Miller's Asses
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Samuel De Wilde

Miller’s Asses

London, S Tipper, 1st. Sept. 1808

Etching with aquatint

190 x 340 mm

Repairs to old folds and margins


A procession of asses enters the shop of 'William Mill[er]', the bookseller and publisher in Albemarle Street. The first has the head of Lord Holland, and is led by a fat lady (r.) who grasps a paper inscribed 'Pension', and holds under her arm a wallet with the feathers of the Prince of Wales and papers inscribed 'Derby', 'Cavendish', 'Bolingbroke', and 'Harvey of Chigvirk' (? Hervey of Ickworth). She is Fox's widow, formerly mistress of the Prince of Wales, Lord Derby, and others (see BMSat 10589). Across the ass lies a limp body in a shroud of 'Holland Sheets', with the head of Fox, hanging down. On the back of the animal is a collection of fox tails inscribed 'Fox's Tales'. The ass is urged on by a lady wielding a birch-rod, and holding up a bottle of 'Godfrey's Cordial' (to show that she is Lady Holland, former wife of Sir Godfrey Webster). Beside this animal is another ass (James Beresford), with the head of a parson, who says: "Oh! Ah! alack aday! alas! / What burden for a reverend Ass". Across its back is a sack inscribed 'Miseries of Hum[an Life] - Virgil Blank' [Verse], and a box: 'Mrs Pandora her Box', from which issue three little imps of mischief, holding up sword, firebrand, and serpents. Behind is an ass ridden by a man in grotesque armour (Walter Scott), behind whom sit two men in quasi-seventeenth-century dress, one aiming a grotesque bow, the bolt terminating in a mop-head, the other flourishing a misshapen sword. Scott holds a broom, and has a pot-lid for a shield; a saucepan is tied to his saddle. He has an upturned queue inscribed 'A Tale of Flodden'. He says: "Now in good sooth I see the Miller / Right soon we all shall touch the Siller". His second squire says: "Gramecy my Lord Marmion / Our Donkey merrily gangs on". The ass kicks, and a man wrapped in a shroud, the ghost of Dryden, tugs at its tail. Other donkeys are indicated, entering the shop and following Dryden. BM 11082