Mere Bubbles

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Mere Bubbles
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Samuel de Wilde

Mere Bubbles

London, M. Jones February 1st. 1811, The Scourge

Etching with aquatint

Original hand colouring

208 x 411 mm

Traces of old folds as issued

£320

A design containing four groups or incidents, two in the foreground, and two on a smaller scale. [1] The largest is on the left. A barrister (Gibbs the Attorney General) works the handle of a pump whose spout is the head of Mrs. Clarke, producing a large pool in which floats a paper inscribed 'A Sea of Iniquity'. In this four men are floundering; two are facing each other on a rotten log inscribed 'Honour'; one, a military officer, seizes the other by the collar and is about to fall backwards; he holds up a blunderbuss and a sheathed sword with a paper: 'Muzzle a Muzeler'. In the other's pocket is a paper: 'Hell to Pay'. Close by, Wardle flounders on his back flourishing a pipe from which hangs a soap-bubble inscribed 'Saving of 11,000,000 to the Nation', and a small commode (as in No. 11713) inscribed 'Seat of Patriotism'. Beside him floats a paper: 'Col. Wardle Dr to . . .' Other bubbles float on the water inscribed 'Charges against D. of Y' (this is breaking) and 'Letter To People of England'. A military officer, almost submerged and in back view, clings to Wardle; his cocked hat floats with a paper: 'Correspond . . . Duke Kent', showing that he is Major Dodd, the Duke's ex-secretary. The pump is topped by a realistic head (Cobbett) gazing impassively at the scene. A man, probably Phillips, kneels to burn papers inscribed 'My Own Life. M A Clarke'; he looks up, grinning, at the pump. [2] A mail coach, carelessly driven, tilts dangerously, the four horses rearing; it is the 'Cambridge Roy[al] Teleg[raph]'. The driver flourishes his whip but is absorbed in a courtesan seated on his knee with an arm round his neck; in his pocket is a paper: 'Rules . . . Varmint Club'. A second man on the box-seat offers them a drink from a fragment of skull inscribed 'Trumpet[ers] Skull'; he clasps a bottle of 'Gin'. Both men wear top-boots and long coats with multiple capes. On the roof is baggage with three men, one at least similarly dressed. Through the window are seen two Cambridge dons in wig and bands. A tall undergraduate wearing a mortar-board and a long gown approaches on stilts, saying, "Am I not a Hell of a WALKER". [3] On the right is the side-door of a large building inscribed 'Opera Office'. William Taylor stands on the doorstep blowing large bubbles from a pipe; at his feet is a cracked chamber-pot inscribed 'My Treasury'. The bubble issuing from the pipe is inscribed 'Promises'. Others float upwards: on one inscribed 'Mad': 'Mallard' are two tiny figures: a military officer threatens a lady with a sword. On another, inscribed 'Des Hayes', a man and woman dance hand-in-hand. The others are inscribed respectively '£210', '£180', '£110', '£80'. Beside Taylor are (right) a huge pile of 'Unpaid Bills' and (left) a small heap of 'Paid Bills'. On the former are large sums, e.g. '£3006' and '£1600'; on the latter small ones, '2.6', '1.9', &c. Two men are in the doorway behind Taylor: a slim man posing like a dancer, and behind him a large impassive figure. [4] In the background a quack-medicine vendor stands blowing bubbles high above a crowd of eagerly clamouring women. Two inscribed 'Medical Monitor Part 1' and 'Medical Monitor Part 2d' are ascending. Others fall within reach of the women: one inscribed 'Long Life' breaks, releasing a crowned figure of Death holding a javelin. On another is a Cupid aiming his bow; on another is Hymen holding a torch