- Museum number
- Object: British Balloon, and D- Aerial Yacht
A balloon in the form of a mask of the faces of North and Fox, imitated from Sayers's print, see BMSat 6234, but reversed, supports a boat in which are seated the Duchess of Devonshire (left) and the Prince of Wales (right). On the ground below are five spectators. The mask wears a turban to indicate Carlo Khan, see BMSat 6276. It has ass's ears to which are attached the ropes which support the boat. In the bows of the boat, which has a man's head as a small figurehead, is a flag on which is a burlesque of the Cavendish arms: the heads of apes with horns instead of three stag's heads. At the stern is a pennant inscribed with the Cavendish motto, 'Cavendo tutus'. A pair of propellers project from the sides of the boat, broader than those on Lunardi's balloon. The Duchess and the Prince embrace indecorously, leaning backwards to look up at the balloon. He says "It rises majestically"; she answers "Yes, I feel it".
The spectators (left to right) are Lord John Cavendish in profile to the right
looking up through a telescope or roll of paper and saying "His H------, no
doubt, being a lover of the Science, will make some curious Experiments". The Duke of Devonshire stands in profile to the right facing a Frenchman; he puts his hand to his forehead, saying, "Looking up has made my Fore-head ake confoundedly". He wears the ribbon of the Garter. The Frenchman, a petit-maître in ruffled shirt and high toupet-wig with a large bag, laughs and points upwards, saying, "Ha, ha, ha, why - it is our way in France". Miss Farren, her arms folded, turns her head in profile to the right to speak to Lord Derby, from whose forehead sprout stag's antlers (indicating the liaison of Lady Derby with the Duke of Dorset) inscribed 'Platonic Love' and 'Maid of the Oaks', the former indicating his relations with Miss Farren, the other the play by Burgoyne written for the 'Fête Champêtre' given at The Oaks in Kent on the marriage of Lord Derby in 1774 (cf. BMSat 5587,7623). Derby looks through a telescope, saying, "She's a beautiful vessel, indeed, - she seems to move at a great rate on the Equinoctial Line". Miss Farren answers, "Aye, my dear Lord, when shall we take a flight from our Platonic Box and Jog together in the Milky-way."
Beneath the title is etched:
'Desined for conveying the high Fliers of Fashion over the Channel, from Dover to Calais, and in which, it being snug, easy and convenient, the enterprising Pair may safely make the Grand Experiment: Che sara sara
Ye Masters of Packets! ye poor silly loons!
Sell your boats and get Blanchard to make you Balloons,
For our fair modern Witches, no longer aquatic,
Will never more cross but in boats Aerostatic.' 13 December 1784
- Production date
Height: 335 millimetres
Width: 230 millimetres (trimmed)
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', VI, 1938)
A satire on Blanchard's second ascent in England, Dec. 1784, from 'the Rhedarium', Park Lane. The Prince of Wales, the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, and a large party of their friends were present, the Duchess and the ladies wearing blue and buff ribbons, Fox's colours; the two last cords were held by the Duchess and another lady. The boat was guided by wings or propeller, and the two aeronauts, Blanchard and Jefferies, carried flags. The Duchess of Devonshire let off a small balloon with a blue and orange cockade as a signal for the cutting of the cords. She had, it was said, taken a hundred tickets for her friends, 'London Chronicle', 30 Nov.-2 Dec. For the Duchess of Devonshire and the Prince of Wales see Wraxall, 'Memoirs', 1884, v. 371-2, and BMSat 6115, &c. For Eliza Farren and Lord Derby, see BMSat 5901 and index.
Reproduction, Bruel, No. 103.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number