“John Bull, blindfold, stands on a massive truncated pillar holding the beam of a pair of scales. In one scale (left), near the ground, Mrs. Clarke sits composedly among a mass of papers, holding one inscribed My dear Dearest Dearest Darling [see British Museum satires no. 11228, &c.]. The others are inscribed: Sandon, Toyne [Tonyn], Dowler, Omeara, Carter, French, Knight, Clavering. In the other scale the Duke of York swings high in the air, and shouts down to three men on the ground: Save me save me Save my Honour [cf. British Museum satires no. 11269]. They haul hard at ropes attached to his scale, which they tilt sideways so that he is in danger of falling out. One, a drink-blotched bishop wearing a mitre, says: Pull away Pull away the Church is in danger; the other two say: Pull away Pull away we lose all our Places, and Pull away pull away we shall lose our Noble Commander. On the pillar Britannia is depicted seated with her shield and lion; she holds the broken staff of a flag.”–British Museum online catalogue.
An allegorical representation of the nationalistic riot occasioned by a troupe of French comedians in London. This satirical print refers to the controversy and protest surrounding a French theatrical company, nicknamed the ‘French Strollers’, who applied for and were granted a licence to perform at the Haymarket in the winter of 1749. Their arrival occasioned much discontent; as the Scots Magazine reported, they were ‘bitterly pelted in the news-papers’. Asserting their right to perform, they persisted in a show on 14 November, but were met by an audience intent on sabotage. An eyewitness account of the incident appeared in the Monthly Review some years later (July 1761): ‘People went early to the Theatre, as a crouded House was certain … I soon perceived that we were visited by two Westminster Justices, Deveil and Manning. The Leaders, that had the conduct of the Opposition, were known to be there; one of whom called aloud for the song in praise of English roast beef, which was accordingly sung in the gallery, by a person prepared for that purpose; and the whole house besides joining in the chorus, saluted the close with three huzzas! This, Justice Deveil was pleased to say, was a riot’. Despite the Justice’s assertions that the play was licensed by the King’s command, the crowd had come prepared to produce disruption. They were equipped with instruments which they played discordantly as an accompaniment to their jeers, catcalls, and Francophobic songs: ‘as an attempt at speaking was ridiculous, the Actors retired, and opened instead with a grand dance of twelve men and twelve women; but even that was prepared for, and they were directly saluted with a bushel or two of peas, which made their capering very unsafe’. Unable even to dance, and following another abortive attempt by the magistrates to assert the King’s authority, the curtain fell for the final time. The eyewitness evidently relished the outcome, venturing ‘that at no battle gained over the French, by the immortal Marlborough, the shoutings could be more joyous than on this occasion’. The print embodies similar sentiments; the French strollers attack British theatrical establishment–represented by an affronted Britannia–who stands between them and British theatre-goers. In the foreground stands a perplexed Othello, lamenting the loss of his occupation, and an injured man a man lies on the floor ‘Almost kill’d for not understanding French’.
Title: The beaux nurses, or, The modern cramers [graphic] : acted at the French Theatre in the Haymarket Novr. [the] 14th.
Publication: [London : publisher not identified, not before 1749]
William Pitt created the Earl of Chatham on 29 July 1766 stands on the prostrate body of Envy alongside the Lord Chancellor Pratt, as they are presented by the figure of Justice to Britannia who receives the peers with pleasure. Minerva overhead holds two laurel wreaths over the heads of the statesmen. In the upper left Fame proclaims the event on her trumpet. On the right, in the background, the half-naked figure of the “scribler” (i.e. political opponent of the peers) is tied to the back of a cart and whipped by a hangman.
Title: Britania’s Glory.
Published: [London] : Sold by J. Williams at No. 36, next the Mitre Tavern, Fleet Street, Augt. 1766.