A Sepulchral enquiry unto English History.-

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A Sepulchral enquiry unto English History.-
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George Cruikshank

A sepulchral enquiry into English History.-

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


Original hand colouring

214 x 510 mm

Traces of old folds as issued


An open coffin stands upright in a rectangular niche at each end of a long vault which is represented by a stone wall and a neatly paved floor. On the left a headless body swathed in draperies stands within the coffin, which is surmounted by a crown and partly covered by a long piece of black drapery. Above the niche is a lunette containing a carving of the execution of 'Charles Ist', with the executioner displaying the head. Sir Henry Halford stands directed to the right, blandly holding by the hair the King's head, from which blood drips; in his right hand is a handkerchief; he points to the right, saying, "I am not sure that this is blood. I never before saw the head of a decapitated Monarch, but if Fortune should favor my professional researches / I will leave to posterity a criterion to ascertain beyond the possibility of a doubt whether this be blood or not." The Regent, standing between the coffins, flinches violently to the right, away from Halford, averting his head, but turning his eyes towards the ghastly sight, which he fends off with both hands. He says: "Let the tomb have its due talk not to me of —igns & dec—on [traces of the intermediate letters, 'sovere' and 'apitati' remain] bury reflection with the dead—hide—hide, from my eyes the fearful sight!—" On his left stands McMahon (right), very small, pointing to the second coffin, and holding out to the Regent an open book inscribed 'History of England—Henry VIII'. He says: "Turn your eyes this way my P— let them dwell upon a Soverign [sic] of another class upon him who never spared man in his hate or woman in his lust"—History informs us he had a method in the disposal of his Wives peculiarly his own let us study him!" Henry VIII stands erect in his coffin, with huge eyeballs, wearing a flat Tudor cap, a moustache and fringe of beard, over a cape encircled by a chain of Maltese crosses. His heavy face has a certain resemblance to the Regent. His coffin is of wood, the upper part broken away, the lower part, inscribed 'H . . .ry V . . . III', split by Lord Yarmouth who lunges at it with a crowbar. Yarmouth looks quizzically at the head, saying, "There's a beard Theres Whiskers red like my own! faith I never knew I had any thing half so regal in me—curse Junot & my rib—d—n the Cossack & his pike [see No. 12640] red Wigs & Whiskers will now be all the go." Against the wall three frightened footmen stand holding huge lighted candles.