- Museum number
- Object: The Meteor discomfiting vice and exposing folly | The Meteor No1 Novemb 1st 1813.
Frontispiece to the 'Meteor', apparently deriving from Gillray's frontispiece to vol. i of the 'Anti-Jacobin Review', see No. 9243. The Meteor, personified by Truth, poised upon clouds, and irradiated from a star touching her head, stands full-face, as if descending from the sky. Her rays strike a circle of dark clouds. She wears clinging and floating draperies; in her right hand is a fiery sword, whose flames reach a monster standing in a cave (left) inscribed 'The Abode of Vice'. This has a scaly body, with pendent breasts, serpents for hair, a long barbed tail; it holds a barbed dagger and flinches from the Meteor's weapon. Above its head four attendant demons, not winged, spring away, registering terror; they are: 'Fraud', 'Hypocrisy', 'Intrigue', 'Licentiousness'. Other serpentine monstrosities above the cave are also flying off. The ground below the cave is the 'Mire of Corruption'. Through this, editors of papers are floundering wildly, to escape from the Meteor. On the extreme left is a man wearing a bonnet rouge and holding up a gibbet from which dangles a wig inscribed 'Independent Wig'. He is followed by a man wearing spectacles, evidently a portrait, seated on the bent back of a man who walks supported on two sticks. He carries a large book inscribed 'Scourge'. Next is a grotesque, almost naked, harridan, carrying on her head a large open book: 'Town Talk'. Last runs a satyr wearing a fool's cap, carrying the 'Satirist'.
On the right is a fragile 'Temple of Folly', collapsing from the impact of a broad ray from Truth's mirror. A shallow dome, fluted and scalloped, supported on slender poles wreathed with roses topples to the right. The ray strikes the head of Folly, who is about to fall from a three-legged stool which stands on a pedestal under the dome. He holds a fiddle and bow in his left hand, and throws up arms and legs in wild alarm. He wears an elongated fool's cap with bells, and has a long nose and satyr's ears. Grouped round the base of the pedestal are terrified worshippers of Folly: Coates, dressed as Lothario, has fallen to the ground (as in his fight with Altamont, see No. 12128), and points his sword upwards towards Folly. Beside him a crowing cock (see No. 11768) stands on a box of 'Precious Stones Diamonds &c' [as worn by Coates on and off the stage]. Next, the Regent in back view except for a bulging cheek, flinches from Truth, his arms extended; three ostrich feathers float from his head. Under his feet is a large round box: 'Wig & Whisker Box', with a small cylindrical box. Near these are a 'Wig Block' and a bottle labelled 'Russia Oil'. A tiny McMahon, cringing and mean, runs off in profile to the right. On the right is Skeffington, chapeau bras, running off to the right, but looking to the left through his lorgnette. Heads and hands of other terrified people are indicated behind the pedestal.
1 November 1813.
- Production date
Height: 268 millimetres
Width: 395 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', IX, 1949)
Cruikshank continued to illustrate the periodicals (one Tory, two specializing in all-round scurrility) here stigmatized in their own vein by their new rival: 'The Meteor; or, Monthly Censor. A Critical Satirical and Literary Magazine', which was entirely illustrated by him (thirty-two etchings and eight woodcuts). There were eight monthly numbers, from 1 Nov. 1813 to 1 July 1814 (no number for June), comprising one volume and two numbers. The 'Independent Whig' preached Reform and opposed the war with virulence, see No. 11380.
Reid, No. 262. Cohn, No. 553.
Uncoloured impressions not folded, showing that it was issued separately.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number