- Museum number
- Object: Comfort's of a Bed of Roses;-
After the title: 'vide Charley's elucidation of Lord C-stl-r-gh's Speech! - A Nightly Scene near Cleveland Row'. Fox and his wife, facing the spectator, sleep in a magnificent , ducal bed, whose head and curtains form a background to the design. They disturbed by nightmares. Fox extends both arms in gloomy terror as Naooleon springs on his bed (r.) and seizes the collar of his night-shirt, the other side of which is tugged at by the ghost of Pitt (l.) who floats towards him dressed in a shroud, and supporting the curtain with his left. arm. Pitt exclaims: "Awake, arise, or be for ever fall'n!" Fox's head is jerked forward, his hair rises, and his (bonnet-rouge) night-cap falls off. Napoleon leaps from a cannon on which his left. toe rests. It is inscribed 'Pour Subjuguer le Monde' [cf. BMSat 10599, &c.]. Behind it, and forming a background to the right. of the design, are clouds of fiery smoke, from which emerge a forest of spears with an imperial eagle topping a banner inscribed: 'Horrors of Invasion'. Napoleon wears his feathered bicorne with spurred jack-boots and raises his sword fiercely. An eagle whose (tricolour) collar is inscribed 'Prussia hovers menacingly over Fox'. The fringed bed-cover is covered with a pattern of roses; from under it (l.) project heavy jagged thorn-branches with a few roses; the branches are inscribed: 'India Roses', 'Emancipation Roses', 'French Roses', 'Coalition Roses', 'Volunteer Roses'. A ghastly creature, Death, crawls from under the coverlet, which rests on the carpeted floor: a grinning skull-like jaw appears; a corpse-like arm holds up an hour-glass whose sands are almost run out. Round the arm is twined a tricolour ribbon inscribed 'Intemperance', 'Drosy [sic]', 'Dissolution'; its r. hand clutches a spear. A bull-dog, its collar inscribed 'John Bull', snarls savagely at Napoleon, resting its fore-paws on the foot of the bed: it befouls a paper: 'List of the N[ew] Broad-Bottom Administr[ation] [cf. BMSat 10530], 'Citizen Volp[one]' [cf. BMSat 9892, &c], 'Lord Pogy' [Grenville's nickname] ' - Bett Armstead' [Mrs. Fox], 'Doctor Clysterpipe' [Sidmouth, cf. BMSat 9849], 'Miss Petty' [Lord H. Petty]. On the head of the bed are the arms of the Duke of Bedford, with his motto, 'Che Sara Sara' (Mr. and Mrs. Fox were in Bedford's house in Arlington Street). A patterned carpet covers the floor. 21 April 1806
Hand-coloured etching and aquatint
- Production date
Height: 265 millimetres
Width: 360 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', VIII, 1947)
On 3 Apr. Windham brought forward his long-expected plan for the reorganization of the Army, based on short service, increased pensions, the abandonment of grants to volunteers, and military training for those liable to service in the militia. Castlereagh then defended Pitt's system, which it had been Windham's aim to disparage, and maintained that the Ministry were in a favourable situation in respect to revenue, credit, navy, and army; though not disposed to undervalue the serious difficulties of the Government especially in their external relations', he maintained that compared with 'the difficulties and embarrassments under which they are disposed to represent themselves . . . [they] may be considered as on a Bed of Roses!' Fox answered: ". . . Really it is insulting, to tell me I am on a bed of roses, when I feel myself torn and stung by brambles and nettles, whichever way I turn.' 'Parl. Debates', vi. 707 f.; 'Ann. Reg.', 1806, pp. 46-53. The inscriptions on the thorns relate to matters on which the Government was notoriously divided (cf. BMSat 10545, &c.): Emancipation (the cause of the Ministry's fall), which Fox and Grenville supported in principle, Sidmouth opposed; Peace and War, on which Windham and Fox were divided; India: Fox approved the attack on Wellesley by Paull (see BMSat 10561, &c), which Grenville was determined to resist. Windham's attitude to the volunteers was calculated to make Ministry unpopular, cf. BMSat 10106, &c. Frederick William II had confirmed (26 Feb.) a treaty with Napoleon, by which Prussia took over all George III's German possessions and agreed to close Baltic ports to British trade; this was done on 1 Apr., see BMSat 10560. For Fox in bed and beset by ghastly visions cf. BMSat 9244; for his nightmare vision of Napoleon cf. BMSat 9371; for the figure of Death cf. BMSat 9735. [Gillray's inclination to macabre fantasy seems chiefly responsible for this figure which seems to be, as in other prints, unconnected with impending death, and only by accident prophetic. Lord Holland notes: 'Mr Fox being already in a very doubtful state of health, he was shortly after pronounced to be dropsical.'] For the 'Bed of Roses' see also BMSats 10559, 10563. 10567, 10569, 10572, 10583, 10591, 10622, 10697, 10715, 10728, 10966, 10984, 11365.
Grego, 'Gillray', p. 351. Wright and Evans, No. 316. Reprinted, 'G.W.G.', 1830. Broadley, i. 244. Reproduced, Grand-Carteret, 'Napoléon', No. 165; Klingender, 'Hogarth and English Caricature', 1944, p. 19.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
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