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- Object: Property protected. A la francoise.
America (left), a handsome young woman wearing quasi-classical draperies and a coronet of feathers, is being plundered by five Frenchmen. Two wear feathered hats and cloaks of Directors (see BMSat 9199), one of them (probably Barras) on the extreme left takes her by the chin, pointing to two sacks inscribed 'Private Plunderfor the Directors'. She says to him, her head turned in profile, "America will not have her rights infringed on". He answers: "We infringe - Dat be ver good! Indeed Madame Amerique you be ver pretty Woman and we should like to give you the hug Fraternale [cf. BMSat 8119], Begar we do not want to quarrel with you, as a proof, my Brothers the grand Directeur's are at this moment take all de Care possible of your Baggage - derefore if you vil go back and bring littel more of de l'Argent you shall be admit to de honor of de sitting, we only ask de favor we never sieze on property." His companion, smiling furtively, holds the purse which he has stolen from her, while unperceived he twitches out one of the twelve feathers of her coronet, three of which are inscribed, 'Pensilvania', 'Philadelphia', 'New York'. He says: "By gar some of dese fedders vil look vel in de caps of us Legislateurs."
The three others, two in regimentals, one in bonnet-rouge, have a large open sack of plunder inscribed 'National Sack' and 'Diplomatic perquisites'. One, kneeling, holds it open, a drawn sabre inscribed 'French Argument' in his right hand. He wears a large cocked hat, long queue, and is out at elbows. He says: "Oui Oui Madame Amerique dis Argument vil convince you dat all he says be true." The two others empty into his sack the contents of two smaller ones; one, wearing a cavalry helmet on which is a dragon with barbed tongue, has a sack: 'Borrow'd pr Force from Switzerland'. The other sack is: 'Extorted from Portugal'. The sacks are full of plate, including a salver with the flabsburg eagle, and watches. From rents in it escape coins, a chalice, and a crucifix.
The scene is on the coast near the Channel. Across the water is 'Shakespeare's Cliff', rising in a curve to a mound on which sits in a chair a fat John Bull laughing at the spoliation. In the middle distance, by the French shore, is a group of five: a Spanish don in cloak and slashed breeches says: "they'll certainly pluck her to the last feather". Next him (left) stands the Pope wearing his tiara and holding an open book; he says: "aye they left me nothing but my prayer book and Crown, and stripd that of its jewels". A fat Dutchman (right), pointing across the water, says: "Yaw Mynheer we have been great dupes and there sits John Bull on his Rock laughing at us". Next is an Austrian hussar, saying, "yes we know how things will go by Experience". The fifth, behind the others, may be a Swiss. 1 June 1798
- Production date
Height: 274 millimetres
Width: 427 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', VII, 1942)
In May the English papers (e.g. 'Lond. Chron.', 15 May) published extracts from 'the XYZ dispatches', published in America in Apr. 1798, relating the negotiations of the American envoys in Paris from Oct. 1797: The envoys were not received by Talleyrand, the Foreign Minister, but were visited by three political agents (X, Y, Z in the translation laid before Congress). They informed the Americans that if they wished to make a treaty with France they must pay each of the five Directors $50,000, apologize for remarks by Adams in a speech to Congress, buy from France an extorted Dutch loan, valued at $1,000,000. The result was a revolution in American opinion and a change of policy. The cry was 'millions for defence but not a cent for tribute'. B. Fay, 'The Revolutionary Spirit of France and America', 1928, pp. 403 ff.; 'Camb. Mod. Hist.' vii. 320-1. The French entry into Rome (Feb. 1798) had been followed by the pillaging of the Vatican, palaces, and churches; the Temporal Power was abolished, and the Pope sent to Tuscany, and later to Valence, where he died in 1799. Switzerland was revolutionized by a large French army in Mar. 1798; a central Republic was set up, Geneva and Mülhausen were annexed, treasure and arms were seized and sent to France. Ibid. viii. 638-41. For the exactions from the conquered United Provinces see BMSat 8608, &c.
- Not on display
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