- Museum number
- Object: Royal- munificence. hem!!
Plate from the 'Scourge', vii, before p. 443. Illustration to verses, pp. 443-8. Queen Charlotte, taking snuff, sits in an arm-chair beside a table on which is a frugal meal. She looks up in astonishment at a military officer, who enters (right), chapeau-bras, holding out a paper on which a few of the words indicated are legible: 'Gentlemen . . . 2.000 guineas . . . my dear countrymen . . . my heart bleeds . . . distress . . . [signed] Charlotte'. She exclaims: "Mein Gott! my poor Countrymen! my heart bleeds! but de public money is a sacred trust—I love my Countrymen—but de Britons be generous and will relieve them—Ach! mein Gott—mein Gott." On her lap is an open book: 'Frugal Maxims or the Art of Saving Chap 1st—Cheap Diet'. Her knees are ungracefully apart, with a corner of the table-cloth drawn over them; a napkin is tied round her neck. On the table are two boiled eggs, a loaf, a decanter labelled 'Aqua reg[ia]', coins, and a bulging money-bag. One of the Princesses, probably Sophia, kneels before the fire (left) in profile to the left, plying bellows to heat a small pot. Beside the Queen (right) is a large snuff-jar inscribed 'Strasburg' [see No. 12066]. Behind the astonished visitor who holds out to the Queen her own letter two men whisper together on the extreme right, concealing amusement. They say: "A good manœuvre this" and "It won't take tho!"
The room is that of a miser. Behind the Queen (left) is an open cupboard, the shelves stacked with money-bags, &c. On the top shelf a (carved) bird labelled 'Tippo's Dove', presumably from the spoils of Seringapatam (1799), a bag of 'Pearls', and a jar of 'Gold Dust'. Below: a bag of 'Farthings' stands on a triply locked chest of 'Jewels', which is next a bag inscribed '20.000'. On the lower shelves are money-bags. On the inner side of the door is a 'Table of Interest' with sums extending from '100' to '100.000'. On a settee against the wall is a heap of books, four inscribed: 'The Man of Ross', 'Narrative of the Battle of Leipsic', 'Life of John Elwes Esqr', 'Essay on Charity'. Above is a picture inscribed 'Date Obolum Belisario': the Queen walks along a pavement holding out the hat of the blind King, who follows her with his hand on her shoulder. On the chimney-piece is a bust of 'Elwes', and a candlestick with an extinguisher resting on a candle-end. Above are three pictures: 'Benevolence', a woman on a doorstep gives something to a beggar-woman; 'Charity' hangs sideways and is largely hidden by the margin; '[A]varice' a woman (the Queen) with moneybags, the head cut off by the upper margin.
1 June 1814
- Production date
Height: 245 millimetres
Width: 330 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', IX, 1949)
According to the verses (in the manner of Peter Pindar), the Queen's name was in jest put down for £2,000 on a subscription list opened in the City for the relief of distress in Germany due to the war. On inquiry it was found that she had not contributed. A satirical paragraph in the 'Examiner', 15 May, on the subscription (initiated by the Duke of Sussex): 'The hitherto regretted absence of this august name is, we understand, solely imputed to a desire entertained by the exalted Personage of waiting till the renewal of her birthday [19 May] should offer a felicitous opportunity of thus "increasing" the public love and her own immediate self-respect.' Ibid., 26 June: 'Her Majesty . . . "has not given one sixpence in aid of her distressed country".' On 25 Sept. a vicious article is headed 'Her Majesty and Alms-giving'. Satires on the Queen's supposed miserliness were revived in 1813, see No. 12066; cf. No. 12279. The print derives in part from Gillray's 'Temperance enjoying a frugal Meal', No. 8117; the allusions to the Man of Ross (John Kyrle), and to the miser Elwes; the Table of Interest, the candle, the eggs, the tablecloth over the knee, are common to both. 'Date Obolum Belisario' is a catch-phrase embodying the legend that Belisarius was neglected in his old age by Justinian and allowed to beg in the streets, cf. Nos. 6028, 12995; here it is an allusion to the King's blindness as well as to the Queen's parsimony.
John Ford (email communication, April 2009) added the following information:
The figure at the rear, second from the right bears a strong resemblance to Rudolph Ackermann (1764-1834), who acted as Secretary to the two Committees, the City and the Westminster, established early in 1814 to collect monies for the relief of German distress following the Battle of Leipzig in November 1813. The Government, through the urgings of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the agency of Chancellor of the Exchequer Vansittart agreed to donate a sum equal to that collected through the voluntary contributions and the total sum realised was £215,000. Despite the widespread canards regarding her parsimony Queen Charlotte did contribute £200 and three of her sons also contributed to the fund. The Queen, with Princesses Mary and Elizabeth, also attended the Concert of Sacred Music organised by Ackermann in the Chapel Royal on 28 June, The Times commenting rather ungraciously, 'The Queen looked better than usual'.
Ackermann published Shoberl's Narrative of the most remarkble events in or near Leipzig ( see book on sofa) and was the principal organiser of the distribution of the monies raised to over two hundred districts towns, and villages across Germany; Queen Charlotte's native Mecklenburgh-Strelitz received a total of £2,100.
- Not on display
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