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National pursuits

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • National pursuits
  • Description

    Plate to 'Town Talk', ii. 177. Cross-roads diverge diagonally from a sign-post in the centre foreground pointing: (left) 'To Place' and 'To Glory', (right) 'To Ruin' [cf. No. 11888] and 'To Pleasure'. Six 'placemen' hasten towards 'Place', the road strewn with roses: Perceval in his official gown clutching a bag of 'Cash'; Castlereagh, also with 'Cash', and a paper, 'Plan for a Burial Gr[ound] for the Army' [see No. 11364, &c.]. The hindmost, Sidmouth, has a bottle labelled 'Composing Draught Mrs Brittania' [cf. No. 9849] and a paper: 'Calendar of Political Saints'. The other three are poorly characterized, one is Lord Hertford, holding a bag labelled 'To repair and beautify old Hertford Abby'. Behind them on the road to 'Glory' three officers gallop with drawn sabres inscribed respectively 'Ciudad Rodrigo' [captured by Wellington 19 Jan. 1812], 'Barrossa' [Graham's victory, see No. 11723], and 'Merida' [bridge held by Beresford in Apr. 1811]. Behind them walks Sir Sidney Smith, identified by a sword inscribed 'Acre' [see No. 9412].
    Along the road to 'Ruin', which is strewn with stones, John Bull (not named) trudges sullenly, a great bundle of 'Taxes' attached to his back by chains fastened by a padlock; he holds a pistol and a cudgel. The taxes: 'Income Tax', 'Property Tax', 'House Tax', 'Window Tax', 'Shop Tax', 'Assessed Taxes', 'Can[dle] Tax'. He says (parodying Hamlet): "To be! or Not to be! that is the Question, wether tis nobler to let my Shoulders bear this load, or by a Pistols help at once to ease them, or shall I ease the wealthy Knave that fattens on the State of what is spent in luxury and waste, but then perhaps the Hangmans dirty hands must end me—aye there's the Rub." Five ragged and bare-footed children follow him, appealing pitifully to their father. On the same road, under a sign-post inscribed 'To The Union', stands a gamester holding a dice-box and a bag inscribed '5000'; dice lie at his feet and 'Hoyle' ['on Whist', &c.] projects from his pocket. He exclaims: "I would take the Long odds—lost the 5,000, by G—d!!!"
    Two roads diverge from the main road to 'Pleasure', with posts pointing respectively 'To Hertford Abbey' and 'To Conway Castle'. Each leads to an open pavilion in which a half-naked woman reclines on a sofa. On the former is the word 'Messalina' [Lady Hertford], on the latter 'Libidinous Suk' [for 'Suk Conway' (? a courtesan), cf. No. 11949]. The Regent gallops towards the former. On the latter road stands a younger man (? Yarmouth), saying, "T'is useless for my Father to take so much care of N° 1 when we have most to dread N° 3." In his pocket is 'Town Talk N° 2'. On the sky-line is a castle. Rose-bushes border these by-roads, on one of which is an inconspicuous serpent.
    In the foreground, beside the sign-post, stand Burdett and Whitbread, pointing to the right. The former has a 'Motion against Military Flogging' [see No. 11718], the latter, 'Motion . . . American Correspondence'.
    1 April 1812
    Hand-coloured etching


  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1812
  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 281 millimetres
    • Width: 461 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Lettered: "Pubd for the Proprietors of Town Talk April 1st 1812".
  • Curator's comments

    (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', IX, 1949)
    A comprehensive satire in which the persons with a few exceptions are identified only by inscriptions. For the Regent and Lady Hertford see No. 11853. Since 1808 Burdett had opposed flogging in the Army; on 13 Mar. 1812 he proposed a clause in the Mutiny Act to abolish it. 'Memoirs of Romilly', 1842, ii. 242; 'Parl. Deb.' xxi. 1263 ff. Whitbread moved on 13 Feb. that the correspondence between the Government and the United States on the disputes between them should be laid before the House. Ibid., pp. 762 ff. For the Union Club see No. 9098, &c.

    (Supplementary information)
    Not folded, showing that it was issued separately. The volume is not in the B.M.L.


  • Bibliography

    • BM Satires 11862 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (Satires British 1812 Unmounted Roy)

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number


FOR DESCRIPTION SEE GEORGE (BMSat)   Hand-coloured etching

FOR DESCRIPTION SEE GEORGE (BMSat) Hand-coloured etching

Image description



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