- Museum number
- Object: Radical Quacks giving a New Constitution to John Bull.!
John Bull, mutilated and very ill, sits in a chair between two doctors, Burdett (left) and Hobhouse (right). His legs have been amputated above the knee; the peg-legs are inscribed respectively 'Universal Suffrage' and 'Religious Freedom'; each rests on a book: 'Rights of Man' and 'Age of Reason' (by Paine, one republican, the other deist). The legs are in a coffin (left) behind Burdett, inscribed 'Mr Bull's two legs, Church &—State' and 'To be entombed in the Vaults of St Stephens Chapel'. Beside this stand two large bottles labelled 'Opiate Mr Bull' and 'Sudorific'. He has been bled by Burdett who supports the right arm over a basin, saying, "Mr Bull, you have lived too well, but when we have renovated your Constitution according to our plan the reform will be so Complete—!, that you will never be troubled with any fulness whatsoever!" John, looking at Burdett with gloomy suspicion, answers: "Maybe, Gentlemen, but you have taken all the honest good blood out of my veins; deprived me of my real Supporters & stuck two bad props in their place. & if yougo on thus, I shall die before ever my Constitution can be improved—" He wears a cap of 'Liberty', which partly covers a black patch on his forehead, his left hand is in a (tricolour) sling. His head rests on a pillow, inscribed (left) 'False Promises' and (right) 'Reformers Opinions'. The legs of his arm-chair are 'Mistaken Security—' and 'Mistaken Confidence'. Hobhouse, a goblet in his left hand, bends towards J.B. proffering a big (tricolour) bolus; he says: "Never mind Mr Bull; if we have thought it necessary to take off both your legs you will find the others very good substitutes, this Revolutionary Bolus and decoction of disloyalty, are very harmless but they will restore the general equality of the intestines & remove any obstruction which may prevent us from effecting a Radical Reform in the System." On the floor (right) is a huge bottle labelled 'Burdett's Mixture', containing a (tricolour) liquid inscribed [red] 'Hobhouse's Newgate Proof' [see No. 13501], [white] 'Purity', and [blue] 'Whitbreads Entire' [cf. No. 10431]. A table behind Hobhouse is covered with bottles, &c. Three are broken, two being labelled 'Old Bailey Drops' and 'Dr Watsons white+ Comfort.' The largest is 'Cobbetts Hellebore Ratsbane; Woolers Black Drops' [cf. No. 12928] stands on a box of 'Cartwrights Universal Grease', beside which is a packet of 'Hunts Powders' [see No. 13540]. In the background (left) a French dandy bends towards a large mirror over the chimneypiece, grinning at his reflection; he says: "Mafoi I tink I may succeed here as in France." From his coat-tails hang two papers: 'To de Radicaux' and 'A Messrs Liberaux'. The mirror is surmounted by a shield, supported by lion and unicorn, on which a bonnet rouge has been placed; the inscription: 'Vivnt [sic] Rex [scored through and replaced by] Populu . . .'
4 February 1821.
- Production date
Height: 250 millimetres
Width: 360 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', X, 1952)
A satire on radical reformers discredited by Cato Street, see No. 13707, &c. (though Watson not Thistlewood stands for the Spencean revolutionaries). Burdett was tried on 23 Mar. 1820 for a seditious libel in his 'Letter to the Electors of Westminster' on Peterloo, in which he spoke of 'bloody Neros'. In his speech of four hours in his defence he said the Counsel for the Crown (Gifford) would have made a 'delightful Attorney General to the Emperor Nero'. The Radicals are associated with the revolutionaries of France and Spain, 'Liberales' connoting Spanish democrats of Jacobinical tenets. See Halévy, 'Hist. of the English People 1815-1830', 1926, p. 80 f. For John Bull victimized by quack Reformers see No. 11340. Cf. No. 12756, &c., where the quacks are Ministerial.
Impression in the collection of W. T. Spencer (1931) annotated, 'A previous issue not known to Douglas, published May 25. 1820 by S. Knight'. It was again reissued with the date altered to 1822.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number