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Virtual representation. 1775

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • Virtual representation. 1775
  • Description

    Seven figures on the sea-shore represent the situation in America: four (l.) take the offensive, two (r.) are prepared to defend themselves, while Britannia on the extreme right., blindfolded, is about to rush into a pit inscribed "The Pit prepared for others". Each has a number referring to an explanatory note beneath the design giving the words spoken by each character. The two principal antagonists are Bute (1), who aims a blunderbuss at (5), America, a plainly dressed and sturdy man holding a club. Bute, who wears his Garter ribbons, tartan breeches, and a tartan plaid, is 'One String Jack', saying, "Deliver your Property" (Rann, 'Sixteen String Jack', was a noted highwayman hanged in 1774). America answers, "I will not be Robbed." Behind him and holding his left hand is (6), an English sailor wearing trousers, who says, "I shall be wounded with you". Behind Britannia (7) rushes towards the pit saying, "I am blinded". The Speaker of the House of Commons in his wig and robes, holding the mace, stands in the centre pointing at America and saying to Bute, "I give you that man's money for my use". Two figures on the left encourage Bute and the Speaker: A monk (3), kneels on the ground holding out towards Bute a cross and the model of a gibbet saying "Te Deum". Behind him, and on the extreme left., stands (2), a figure representing France, wearing bag-wig, solitaire, and feathered hat; he is flourishing his sword and saying, Begar Just so en France. The words spoken by (2) and (3) are bracketed with the word "Accomplices".
    In the background, on the horizon, are two towns: (8) Quebec (1.) standing on a cliff, its spires and buildings surrounded by a wall, its castle flying the Union flag; (9) Boston, on the sea level, is in flames; (8) is described as "The French Roman Catholick Town of Quebeck"; (9) is "The English Protestant Town of Boston". 1 April 1775 Etching


  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1775
  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 215 millimetres
    • Width: 304 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Lettered: "April 1. 1775"
  • Curator's comments

    (Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', V, 1935)
    This contrast is an attack on the Quebec Act and on the punitive measures taken against Massachusetts for the Boston tea-party. The attack on the Quebec Act as the establishment of Roman Catholicism in Canada is further stressed by the figures of the monk and of France, see BMSat 5228, &c. It is to be noted that the date of the print is before the opening of hostilities at Lexington, 19 Apr. 1775, cf. BMSat 5287. The words of Bute and the action of the Speaker indicate that America was being taxed for the benefit of England, while the title derides the theory that the colonists, like Englishmen without the franchise, were "virtually represented" in the House of Commons. See 'Cambridge Mod. Hist.', vii. 193 f. and M. C. Tyler, 'Literary History of the American Revolution', i. 103-5, 305 ff.
    Similar in manner and intention to BMSat 5287 and probably by the same artist.


  • Bibliography

    • BM Satires 5286 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (Satires British 1775 Unmounted Roy)

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number




Image description



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