- Museum number
- Object: Benefits of a plentiful harvest.
Plate from the 'Scourge', vi. 349. The Lord Mayor, Scholey, sits enthroned, his chair framed in an alcove which forms the centre of the design. He wears a monkish gown over his dress and points above his head to a pair of scales where a quartern loaf is much lighter than a weight inscribed '4 lbs 5 oz 1/2'. The scales hang from the summit of the alcove, above which is the City shield held by two griffins. On a footstool in front of his dais the City Sword lies across the mace. Two men kneel on his right and left, their knees on the edge of the dais. On his right is a Quaker (a miller, corn-factor, or meal-man), with a bag inscribed 'Sample' in each hand. On his left is a baker, holding a large basket of loaves on his shoulders, and with a rolled document in his jacket pocket. The Mayor looks to the right, saying: "If you wish, my sons, for success in this world, or hope for happiness in the next, make no mental reservation—Maugre popularity, I will do my duty!" The baker answers: "What! must I confess all? Is there no hope of pardon without it? then I am undone indeed! for I have been very liberal in the use of alum—peas—potatoes—rice—nay stone—and sometimes deducted from the weight, &c—O L—d! O L—d! I wish I had been satisfied with plundering Sunday dishes!— [dishes baked for customers in his oven]." His loaves are marked 'W'. The Quaker: "Yea verily, friend I will confess and disburden my overcharged conscience.—I solemnly affirm that I have, all my life, been a strict worshipper in the Temple of Monopoly, erected by my forefathers; and albeit though I have never been scrupulous in my returns, and may occasionally have wanted wind and water to grind corn, I have never ceased to grind the public on every favourable opportunity—. Nha!"
On the right (the Mayor's left) is a group of Corporation notables. Alderman Wood (left) turns to Quin to say: "I wonder Mr Q—n, that bakers have never introduced Quassia [see No. 10574, &c.]; it is a stomachic Wood, and I deal very largely in it." Quin (also prominent among the supporters of the Princess of Wales) answers: "None of your tricks upon an old "Traveller" [cf. No. 11657] —by Jasus, I think the state of the labouring poor is bitter enough already,— O that I had the brushing of their bums." Both men are fashionably dressed under their fur-bordered gowns. Curtis, wearing the sailor's dress of No. 11353, &c., stands in profile to the left, holding a bowl of steaming 'Turtle' soup, into which he dips a spoon; he says: "I wish they were as honest as I have been with my biscuits [cf. No. 11354], or you holy father in your contract for hops.—A speedy reformation to them all, and that soon, say I [see No. 11306]." A fourth man on the extreme right, dressed like Curtis, but holding his hat and an alderman's gown, puts his hand on Curtis's arm, saying, "Come! thats very good indeed!—I say brother trowsers, invite me to your next Turtle feast. I'll be sure to be in Time,—apropos your watch don't want repairing does it!" [He is probably an alderman belonging to the Clock-makers' Company.] Behind this group is a large open window through which is seen a street-corner inscribed 'Mark Lane' (site of the Corn Exchange). Two Quakers in broad-brimmed hats, stand primly with clasped hands, facing two other men. One Quaker says: "Verily there is a large supply of foreign Wheat and the price has fell." His vis-à-vis answers: "Then D—n you Aminadab werr'e dish'd!!!"
On the left, a pendant to the Aldermen, stand a starving family, anxious to approach the Mayor. The man, lean and ragged, in clothes denoting the middle-class citizen, drops his hat and looks over his shoulder at his wife, exclaiming "Oh wherefore breathe we in a christian Land?" The ragged, emaciated woman is suckling an infant, and is in an advanced state of pregnancy; she answers: "Christians! I think for my part there are very few left among us, the [sic] have all turn'd Jews and Turks." Beside her is a girl, prematurely old, and behind are two boys, one gnawing a bare bone. Through the window behind them is seen a quay where a two-masted ship stands beside a warehouse from which sacks are being carried on board. On the extreme left a neatly dressed man, wearing top-boots, turns to a farmer, John Bull, who stands beside him; he points at the window, saying, "Look there Mr Bull! do you see whats going on Yonder the fish will not starve however." John answers: "Good Heavens that the bounty of Providence should be so abused."
1 November 1813
- Production date
Height: 205 millimetres
Width: 500 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', IX, 1949)
In 1813 the price of corn was very high till it was lowered rapidly by an exceptionally good harvest. Under the assize of bread (see No. 9720) the Lord Mayor periodically fixed the price of the loaf, which he could legally do according to the price of either grain, meal, or flour, but by custom the price had a fixed ratio to the price of flour. There were complaints that the price of bread in London did not fall in proportion to the price of wheat, flour fell less than wheat. There were also prosecutions of bakers for selling underweight bread. The Mayor in September declared his intention of fixing the assize according to the price of wheat; he was visited by a deputation of bakers who protested that they would be ruined. On 4 Oct. a Court of Common Council (here satirized) was held on the Mayor's requisition to take into consideration the alarming price of bread notwithstanding the abundant harvest. In the debate (reported at length in 'Cobbett's Pol. Reg.' xxiv. 457 ff., 9 Oct.) blame was laid on mealmen, millers, and corn-factors, rather than bakers, but there was strong opposition on 'laissez-faire' principles, notably by Quin and Alderman Wood (who said he was taking the unpopular side) to any regulation; Wood was accused of acting from personal hostility to the Mayor (cf. No. 12038). In a recent case a baker had been convicted of adulterating bread with alum and potatoes, a judgement condemned by Cobbett on 'laissez-faire' and 'caveat emptor' principles, which he also applied to all price regulation and all attacks on corn-factors, &c., for 'monopoly', who are here condemned. Op. cit., pp. 817-25. For the monthly price of corn and the quartern loaf according to the assize of bread in London, see 'Ann. Reg.', 1813, p. 325. According to an act regulating the assize, wheaten loaves had to be stamped with W. Prothero, 'English Farming Past and Present', 1912, p. 450. The Report of the Select Committee on the Corn Trade, 11 May 1813, recommended free export of corn up to the high rate of 94s. 2d. a quarter (see Smart, 'Econ. Annals of the Nineteenth Century', i. 374-5, 407-17); this shocks John Bull. Corn-factors and 'Monopoly' had been the special subject of attack during the dearth of 1800-1, see No. 9717, &c. To buy by sample was to 'forestall' the market, and allegedly to raise the price. Here the 'City Patriots' are shown defending Monopoly at the expense of the starving poor. Aminadab was a stock name for a Quaker in old comedies. A 'burlesque ode', 'The Bounties of Providence counteracted or Benefits of a plentiful Harvest', 'Scourge', vi. 351-3, denouncing 'curs'd Mark Lane' and 'human locusts' was published 'in allusion to our caricature'. See Nos. 12095, 12110, 12265.
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