- Museum number
- Object: The Prince of Whales or the fisherman at anchor.
Plate from the 'Scourge', iii. 345. A whale with the head of the Regent swims in 'The Sea of Politics' spouting water from each nostril: one stream, darker and more compact, is 'The Liquor of Oblivion'; it curves backwards to strike a turtle with the head of Grenville and a little grey dog with the head of Grey which scampers off to the left. Both are on the shore behind the monster's lashing tail. The turtle is inscribed 'Sinecure 30,000', '5000', '1000', &c. [see No. 10543, &c.]. The other stream, inscribed 'Dew of Favor', curves to the right, descending on Perceval and two companions in a small boat. Perceval, 'the Fisherman', wearing his Chancellor of the Exchequer's gown, stands holding in his r. hand a heavy chain attached to an anchor, one barbed fluke of which has transfixed the lips of the Prince; its stock is inscribed 'Delicate Enquiry', in his left hand is the end of a fishing-net hanging from the boat, and containing two fish, one 'Sinecure', the other 'Arch Bishopric'. Temple, with a porpoise-like body, swims towards the fish, putting out his hands to catch the former, while the latter attracts a big oyster on the shore, with a human face showing between its valves. This is 'the Bishop of B', i.e. Mansel, Bishop of Bristol. [As Perceval's protégé, see No. 11404, and because Beadon of Bath and Wells and Majendie of Bangor are less likely.] In front of the net lies a large seal (the Great Seal) with the head of Eldon. In Perceval's boat are two large baskets of fish inscribed respectively 'Gudgeons' and 'Flat Fish'; Sidmouth's head emerges from the former, that of Lord Melville wearing a tam-o'-shanter from the other. The boat has run ashore where there are two rats, one with the head and turban of Wellesley, the other with the head of Canning (cf. No. 11846); these rats are gnawing holes in the boat of which Perceval, smiling complacently, is unaware. Melville, watching them, exclaims "We shall all be dish'd." Outside the boat a shark with the head of Castlereagh leaps from the water to catch some of the 'Dew', inscribed 'Salery reappointment' [cf. No. 11861].
In the foreground in the centre of the design a 'beautiful mermaid' (Lady Hertford) swims in 'The Sea of Polities', playing a lyre and looking alluringly at the Prince, who turns his eyes towards her. Behind her a merman rises from the water, angrily holding the antlers which decorate his head. In front of the whale the head and shoulders of Mrs. Fitzherbert emerge; she holds up a mirror and looks up at the Prince who is looking away from her. A pikelike fish with the head of McMahon terminating in an elongated spike pierces the side of the whale causing coins to fall from the wound; a fin is inscribed 'Privy Purse' [see No. 11874, &c.]. On land (right) behind Grey, a clumsy monster (styled rhinoceros) with the head of Sheridan lumbers towards the Regent. The screen of Carlton House forms a background.
1 May 1812
- Production date
Height: 196 millimetres (printed surface)
Width: 499 millimetres (printed surface)
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', IX, 1949)
Wellesley and Canning threaten Perceval's weak Ministry, and it is (incorrectly) implied that Perceval has a blackmailing hold on the Prince through his relations with the Princess, see No. 11990. Wellesley's final resignation had been insisted on by Perceval, see 'H.M.C., Bathurst MSS.', p. 166. Temple was not a candidate for office under Perceval, but the greed of the Grenvilles was a stock subject of satire. Mrs. Fitzherbert and the Prince parted finally in June 1811, see Nos. 11886, 11904.
The design was clearly suggested by Lamb's verses [Referred to in the 'Scourge', iii. 265 as the 'Prince of Whales', and attributed (with others) to 'the Prince's early friends'.] in the 'Examiner' of 15 Mar. 1812, 'The Triumph of the Whale', e.g.:
Not a fatter fish than he
Flounders round the polar sea, . . .
Mermaids with their tails and singing
His delighted fancy stinging; . . .
For his solace and relief,
Flat fish are his courtiers chief. The 'Scourge', however, explains: 'The idea of the caricature is taken from Milton's description of the mariners casting anchor on the scaly rind of the huge Leviathan.' The persons are identified by initials; the Hertfords are Lord and Lady-, the Prince and Mrs. Fitzherbert are omitted.
Reid, No. 161. Cohn, No. 732.
The full text of Charles Lamb's "The Triumph of the Whale" as follows:
"Io! Paean! Io! sing
To the finny people's King.
Not a mightier whale than this
In the vast Atlantic is;
Not a fatter fish than he
Flounders round the polar sea.
See his blubbers--at his gills
What a world of drink he swills,
From his trunk, as from a spout,
Which next moment he pours out.
Such his person--next declare,
Muse, who his companions are.--
Every fish of generous kind
Scuds aside, or slinks behind;
But about his presence keep
All the Monsters of the Deep;
Mermaids, with their tails and singing
His delighted fancy stinging;
Crooked Dolphins, they surround him,
Dog-like Seals, they fawn around him.
Following hard, the progress mark
Of the intolerant salt sea shark.
For his solace and relief,
Flat fish are his courtiers chief.
Last and lowest in his train,
Ink-fish (libellers of the main)
Their black liquor shed in spite:
(Such on earth the things _that write_.)
In his stomach, some do say,
No good thing can ever stay.
Had it been the fortune of it
To have swallowed that old Prophet,
Three days there he'd not have dwell'd,
But in one have been expell'd.
Hapless mariners are they,
Who beguil'd (as seamen say),
Deeming him some rock or island,
Footing sure, safe spot, and dry land,
Anchor in his scaly rind;
Soon the difference they find;
Sudden plumb, he sinks beneath them;
Does to ruthless seas bequeath them.
Name or title what has he?
Is he Regent of the Sea?
From this difficulty free us,
Buffon, Banks or sage Linnaeus.
With his wondrous attributes
Say what appellation suits.
By his bulk, and by his size,
By his oily qualities,
This (or else my eyesight fails),
This should be the PRINCE OF WHALES."
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1997 Jul-Aug, Brighton, Museum and AG, Regency Cartoons
2000 Jun-Dec, London, Wallace Coll, Founders of Wallace Collection
2007/8 Oct-Feb, BM P&D, Whales in Print
2013 Oct-Dec, Warwickshire, Compton Verney, Curious Beasts
2014 March-May, Belfast, Ulster Museum, Curious Beasts
2014 June-Aug, Hull, Ferens Art Gallery, Curious Beasts
2014 Oct-Dec, San Diego, University Galleries, Curious Beasts
2016-2017 21 Oct-5 Feb, Adelaide, South Australian Museum: ‘Curious Beasts’
2018 -2019, 6 Sep - 20 Jan, London, BM, G35, I Object
- Associated names
Associated with: Richard Grenville, 1st Duke of Buckingham and Chandos
Associated with: George Canning
Associated with: Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh and 2nd Marquess of Londonderry
Associated with: Caroline of Brunswick
Associated with: John Scott, 1st Earl of Eldon
Associated with: Maria Anne Fitzherbert
Associated with: George IV, King of the United Kingdom
Associated with: William Wyndham Grenville, Baron Grenville
Associated with: Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey
Associated with: Francis Ingram Seymour, 2nd Marquess of Hertford
Associated with: Isabella, Marchioness of Hertford
Associated with: Right Hon Sir John McMahon
Associated with: William Lort Mansel, Bishop of Bristol
Associated with: Robert Saunders Dundas, 2nd Viscount Melville
Associated with: Right Hon Spencer Perceval
Associated with: Richard Brinsley Sheridan
Associated with: Henry Addington, 1st Viscount Sidmouth
Associated with: Richard Colley Wellesley, Marquess Wellesley
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number