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Political Pamphlet of 26 pages concerning the Queen Caroline affair, entitled: “The Total Eclipse: A Grand Politico-Astronomical Phenomenon, which occurred in the year 1820; with a series of engravings to demonstrate The Configuration of the Planets. To which is added, an hieroglyphic adapted to these Wonderful Times!”
1. The illustration on the title page, BM Satires 13976, represents country-folk gazing at an eclipse; the sun is the King's head, the face completely obscured by a black disk inscribed 'Vice'. One looks through a large telescope, others use smoked glass, while two men watch the reflection in a tub of water. The head is the Georgium Sidus, 'Taxland's Sun' (Uranus, see BM Satires No. 8115). Lettered beneath the image:
“All tongues speak of him, and the bleared sights are spectacled to see him.”
With the publisher’s line:
“London: Published by Thomas Dolby, 299 Strand, 30 Holywell Street, and 34 Wardour Street.
On the reverse:
“All the Drawings for the Total Eclipse are by Mr I.R. Cruikshank.”
The pamphlet is written in verse and imitates the forms of astronomical and astrological texts with seven wood engraved illustrations and the additional “hieroglyphic.”
2. BM Satires 13977. Untitled in the pamphlet but described as “Emblems of Misrule” by M.Dorothy George. The King's melancholy face is irradiated by bayonets and surrounded by clouds composed of heads and objects in shadow. Heads of Liverpool, Sidmouth, Eldon (with the Purse of the Great Seal and the Woolsack), Gifford, next a leech (see No. 13740) and a 'Green Bag' (see No. 13735), Wellington, Castlereagh; the two last with shackles, axes, cannon, and cannon-balls (cf. No. 13298). Beside the King's head are bottles, a corkscrew, and a fool's cap.
3. BM Satires 13978. “Beginning of the Eclipse.” Three figures, silhouetted in black, approach the irradiated head of the Regent, their heads touching the contour of his face: Castlereagh, holding a scourge (left), Liverpool, drooping dejectedly, and Sidmouth (right), holding a clyster-pipe. They stand on clouds. They conspire against the Radicals.
4. BM Satires 13979.“Middle of the eclipse: Time of the Greatest Obscuration, 1820.”
The three figures of No. 13978 have converged, heads together, that of Liverpool superimposed on the others and obscuring the King's head, which is irradiated. Above the platform of clouds appear the Queen's hat and hands, holding up a paper inscribed 'Justice': the rising 'Carolina Star'.
5. BM Satires: 13980. “Effects of the Eclipse in the House of P—rs.” Demont (see BM Satires No. 13857) stands at the bar, addressing Lord Eldon who is seated at the table, behind a large 'Foul Clothes Bag' (see No. 13735); both hold chamber-pots. She says: "Je ne m'en rappelle pas." Majocchi, behind her, says: "Non mi Ricordo" [twice]. Lawyers seated at the table are disconcerted. (See BM Satires No. 13827.)
6. BM Satires, 13981. “The Effects of the Eclipse on the Court Below.” Four judges sit in a row behind a table, frowning. On the right stand two prisoners, holding branches of laurel, one wearing top-boots. Opposite them stand yeomanry, grotesquely hideous, scowling fiercely, and holding drawn sabres. Behind the judges is a tipsy-looking figure of Justice, a bandage over one eye, her scales unbalanced. Perhaps a reference to the trial of Sir C. Wolseley and Joseph Harrison at the Cheshire Assizes, 10 Apr., for sedition on 28 June 1819 (see BM Satires No. 13251). They were sentenced in the King's Bench on 10 May to eighteen months imprisonment. 'Ann. Reg.', 1820, pp. 908-20, 148. The first prisoner has some resemblance to Hunt, (see BM Satires No. 14187.)
7. (BM Satires 13982.) “Effects of the Eclipse in the Church.” A squinting parson rants in a pulpit. The 'Holy Bible' is pushed aside for the 'Courier' newspaper, which lies on the cushion. Beside this is a paper: 'H M Servi[ce] Circular Sid[mouth'., see No. 13282]. The clerk sits below, smoking a pipe and wearing a hat. The congregation, except for a deaf man with an ear-trumpet, do not listen but flirt or sleep; one man reads a paper headed 'Election Expenses'. A satire on time-serving parsons who:
“. . . even dar'd to thrust between/ God and 'Man', to hurt the Q—n.”
The parsons mentioned are 'A Cun—gh—m' (see No. 13914); and 'Parson H—y' (William Robert Hay, Rector of Ackworth, chairman of the magistrates at Peterloo, see 'State Trials', N.S. i. 1179-83), notoriously a pluralist; 'Eth—ls—n, the ba—dy poet' (see BM Satires No. 13281). Many violent disputes between parsons and parishioners arose over prayers for the Queen.
8. BM Satires 13983.“End of the Eclipse” 1821. The Queen, crowned and irradiated, stands on clouds, holding up a paper: 'Justice for the Oppressed and Freedom for Millions!' She points menacingly downwards towards waves from which emerge the terrified head of George IV, the hands and legs of Sidmouth (with his clyster-pipe), the legs of Castlereagh (in neat strapped trousers), and the stick-like legs of Liverpool. The drowning men are struck by darts of lightning. (Cf.BM Satires No. 13900.) (BM Satires 13983.)
9. BM Satires 13984. “An Hieroglyphic Adapted to these Wonderful Times For the Curious Reader to Construe.”
A Gothic church, upside-down, is used as a mill worked by two handles, one turned by George IV and Castlereagh, the other by the Devil and Gifford. From the top project papers inscribed with seven of the ten commandments. A ladder leans against it, which Eldon mounts, carrying the sword and scales of Justice. Above him stands a bishop with the hair and collar of a dandy (cf. No. 13029), throwing into the mill a mitre and papers inscribed 'Vows' and 'Marriage Vows'. These objects are ground up and pour from the windows as chaff which blows away. On the right Sidmouth, seated on a 'Gr[een] Bag' [see No. 13735], pounds with a pestle at a crown in an apothecary's mortar. Below, as a secondary design, are two cathedrals. On one sits the Devil who beckons to a bishop, kneeling on the other. Evidently Pelham, the 'dandy bishop', asking to be translated from Exeter to Lincoln, (see BM Satires No. 13946.) The text ends with the inscription:
“Judicum astrologicum, pro anno 1821.
In preparation, by the Author of the “Total Eclipse” to be One Shilling.”
Wood-engraved illustrations to a letterpress pamphlet
- Production date
Height: 217 millimetres (approx. page size (note some variation in page size throughout the text.))
Width: 136 millimetres (approx. page size (note some variation in page size throughout the text.))
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', X, 1952)
An eclipse of the sun, the most complete visible in England since 1714, occurred on 7 Sept. 'Ann. Reg.', 1820, p. 135. Cf. BM Satires Nos. 13888, 14012.
Dated by M. D. George, 14 November 1820, from advertisement, 12 Nov., 'Examiner', p. 736.
Bound as part of "Political Tracts Volume 2," number 2 of 10 volumes of “Political Tracts” A compilation of satirical and political pamphlets published circa 1819-1822. The contents of this volume mainly concern the Queen Caroline affair and satirise the Prince Regent, subsequently George IV, his court and ministers.
For pen and ink studies, see:
1868,0808.12930 (page 8)
1868,0808.12931. (page 22.)
- Not on display
- Associated titles
Associated Title: The total eclipse: a grand politico=astronomical phenomenon...
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