- Museum number
- Object: National Phrenzy, or, John Bull and his Doctors!. Plte 1st
Plate [not folded, showing that it was issued separately] to the 'Meteor', i. 83. John Bull, a fat 'cit', beset by doctors, leans back on a cushioned seat, with gaping mouth and goggling eyes, registering bewildered alarm. His dress is completely topsy-turvy: his breeches are round his neck in place of a coat, his arms thrust through the legs, with shoes on his hands. His legs are in the sleeves of his coat and his collar is across his waist; there are gloves on his feet, and pockets hang inside out. On his head is a hat, above this is his wig, topped by his night-cap. At his feet are two big bottles labelled 'Commercial Alterative' and 'Wellington Drops'. He is much larger in scale than his doctors, two of whom stand on a table behind his head: Liverpool pierces his arm with a 'Liverpool Lancet' as long as himself, saying, "I have an infallible lancet which Iohnny bares his arm to very kindly, see how the Blood flows, who says the Bull's exhausted?!!" A golden cascade spouts up from the point of the lancet and falls into a 'Waste Butt', a ramshackle cask. The stream is inscribed 'Pension Places &c', 'for Dinners &c', 'Subsidy' [three times], 'Pensions', 'For Fetes', 'Princess Charlottes Establishment'. Three little demons frolic on the summit of the cask, to get a share; one is inscribed 'Pensioner'. Caterpillars crawl up the cask inscribed 'Pensioner' and 'Placeman', they nibble at the wood, which is broken in various places, letting coins fall out. The cask stands on low trestles and the tap is turned on, letting 'Secret Service Money' gush out. On the extreme left McMahon, dwarfish and blotched and hideous, with a pen behind his ear, stands turning on a side-tap, inscribed 'Stop Cock', from which coins shoot out into a bulging sack inscribed 'P P P' [see No. 11874, &c.] which he holds. A label projects into the design from the left above McMahon's head, enclosing words spoken by the (invisible) Regent: "Fill it brim full, Mac!" McMahon answers: "Leave me alone to take care of the privy Purse." The Lord Chancellor, Eldon, stands on tiptoe on a stool inscribed 'Chancery Suit', to feel John's pulse; he holds up a watch and says: "They may call us Quacks if they please but we are on the Right side of the question & it shall go hard but we'll keep our places"; the mace and the purse of the Great Seal project from his gown, like medical implements, and his wig hangs below his knees.
The other doctor on the table is Castlereagh, barely recognizable, with a heavy jowl and broad medical wig; he holds to John's head a long spoon on which are two balls inscribed respectively: 'Total Defeat for Bounaparte' and 'Cheap Bread'. He says: "Cant you be aisy John. [T]hen take these Bolus's they will make you bleed freely. And my Friend Death, there is preparing you a reptile soup, an infallible specyfic in your case." Two large pots stand on the table beside him; one (right) topped with 'Regency Froth', the other heaped with balls inscribed: 'Hanover', 'Dresden', 'Leipsic', 'Orange Boven', 'France Invaded'. John exclaims: "What! My shop door open,! My business going on!! Hurrah hurrah, little Boney destroyd!!!! Leipsic taken, Hanover restored, Holland free & France invaded!!!!! Is not this too much to swallow?" At John's feet (right) is an apothecary's mortar in which Napoleon sits, wearing a much feathered bicorne, and with his jack-boots projecting upwards. He gapes up terrified at the huge 'Allied Pestle' with which Death is about to smite him. Death wears old-fashioned physician's dress, is more emaciated than a skeleton, and has a skull-like head, with spectacles framing the eye-sockets. He puts one foot on the edge of the mortar, and says: "D—m you I'll Doctor you." At his feet are large balls or boluses inscribed 'England', 'Prussia', 'Russia', 'Sweden'. On the right, behind Death, a man in legal wig and gown seizes Burdett by the throat, in his left hand is a clyster-pipe inscribed 'Law of Libel', with which he is about to smite his antagonist. He says: "Curse you what do you want here." Burdett, in profile to the right, and much caricatured, is dressed as a butcher-surgeon, wearing trousers and a belt from which hangs a butcher's steel, with two knives, one with a serrated blade. He raises above his head a saw and an axe, both inscribed 'Reform', and says: "I knew they would drive him Mad at last nothing can save him but applying the Axe to the Root or Sawing off the excrescences of ye State." On the extreme right three opposition Whigs slink off hurriedly to the right. The most prominent is Grenville, stooping low, and walking with a physician's gold-headed cane; his posteriors are spherical and are inscribed 'Fat Sincure [sic] Tellings of the Exchequer' [see No. 10543, &c.]. He says: "Pretty goings on—well I'll be off—Broad Bottoms for ever I say [see No. 10530]." Grey, beside him, says: "Aye Aye they will be no good without Us." Lord Holland, on the extreme right, walks off with a deprecating gesture. Portraiture is not attempted except for the three Whigs who are after Gillray.
1 December 1813.
- Production date
Height: 220 millimetres
Width: 550 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', IX, 1949)
John Bull, despite his words, appears bewildered and perturbed at victories which are combined with disastrous expenditure and waste. Leipzig, see No. 12093, &c., is associated with the defeat of Dresden (26 Aug.). The French occupation of Hanover ceased after Leipzig, and the Duke of Cumberland entered the country on 4 Nov., see 'Corr. of George IV', 1938, pp. 324, 327-9. For the liberation of Holland see No. 12102, &c.; for the price of bread, No. 12089, &c. All political groups are condemned: Carlton House for selfish extravagance, the Ministers are quack doctors, the Foxite leaders abandon John Bull (cf. No. 11888, &c.); Burdett offers the remedy of a bloodthirsty surgeon, cf. No. 9092, &c.; his opponent is probably Sir Vicary Gibbs, notorious when Attorney-General (1807-12) for his ex-officio Informations, see No. 11717, &c. Victories appear only as quack remedies. The theme, except for the attack on Burdett, is that of Cobbett, who had refused to believe in the possibility of victory, and when it came complained: 'Tax-gatherers yet unborn will cover the land in consequence of this war, the apparent result of which is such matter of bragging.' 'Pol. Reg.' xxiv. 715 (4 Dec). Cf. No. 12118. For bleeding John Bull cf. No. 12756, &c., for Reform as the axe to the root, Nos. 8817, 11323, for 'cheap bread', No. 12089. Cf. No. 11340.
Reid, No. 266. Cohn, No. 553. Listed by Broadley.
- Not on display
- Associated names
Associated with: Sir Francis Burdett, 5th Baronet
Associated with: Princess Charlotte of Wales
Associated with: Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh and 2nd Marquess of Londonderry
Associated with: John Scott, 1st Earl of Eldon
Associated with: George IV, King of the United Kingdom
Associated with: Right Hon Sir Vicary Gibbs
Associated with: William Wyndham Grenville, Baron Grenville
Associated with: Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey
Associated with: Henry Richard Fox Vassall, 3rd Baron Holland
Associated with: Robert Banks Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool
Associated with: Right Hon Sir John McMahon
Associated with: Napoléon I, Emperor of the French
Associated with: Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number