- Museum number
- Object: The property tax- civic champions- or the darling in danger.
Plate from the 'Scourge', ix, frontispiece. After the title: '—"Make not a City feast of it, to let the meat cool, ere we can agree upon the first cut." Timon' [iii. 6]. On the left, in front of Guildhall, four Aldermen and Councillor Waithman scourge with birch-rods a hairy monster wearing a belt inscribed 'Property, Ta[x]' who flees before them. It has a tigrine head, a quasi-human body, and the feet of a bird of prey. From its belt hang empty bags. Alderman Wood wears armour; he takes two rods from bundles on the ground tied by a ribbon inscribed 'Smart Argument'. His helmet and the City shield lie against the bundles. Waithman, behind the others, sings:
"Since now there's Pax,
This Monster, Tax,
We'll worry from our plain Sir"
"Well said efaith man,
So friend Waithman,
I'll second with might & main Sir"
Two others sing:
"I'll tickle his rump
Tho he's so plump,
And makes in our bags such a racket"
"If he wont Jog,
We still must Flog,
And at last we shall pepper his jacket"
[Lines adapted from O'Hara's burletta 'Midas', 1762, cf. No. 7498.] On the right the ghost of Pitt (cf. No. 11895) advances from the flames of Hell to defend the tax. He is emaciated, wears white draperies, and rides on Cerberus, who gallops forward. His saddle-cloth is bordered with an inscription 'Taxation Botheration Vexa[tion]'; on it the Royal Arms are faintly suggested. Pitt's words arise from his mouth on a dense cloud of smoke:
'Desist ye frantic Civic bands
Nor on my darling lay your hands
My Spirit stalks St Steven round,
Inspiring Statesmen in their dreams,
To counteract mad Patriots schemes,
And this remember by the bye!
Although I'm dead, I'll never die'
His head is the centre of rays inscribed: 'Income', 'Property', 'Comissioners', 'Collectors', 'Informers', 'Assesors', 'Distraining', 'Poverty'. Two figures emerge with him from Hell, surrounded by smoke. One gnawing a bone is Famine, the other with a dagger in each hand is Sedition or Discord. Three winged heads fly above and behind Pitt: an old woman's, surmounted by bars of 'Soap'; an old man's, by a bunch of 'Candles', and a head topped by a shoe, 'Leather Tax'. Below these and just behind Pitt a gnome bestrides a bat-like monster. He wears a conical cap inscribed 'Secret[ary]', and holds an open book and a pen; he says: "I'll book these refractory Cits."
Between the two groups stand five persons, three looking towards Pitt, the others towards the Monster. In the foreground John Bull, plump but ragged, his pockets inside out, his hat and wig on the ground, extends his arms to ward off the ghost, exclaiming, "How say you? Why what care I! Are not my pockets emptied? Avaunt and quit my sight, Hence, unreal mock'ry, and Let me be a Man again." Curtis, in the comic nautical dress of the Walcheren prints (see No. 11353) holds out to Pitt a steaming bowl of 'Turtle'. He says: "I have no hand in this business I assure you Sir! its only the Americans that deserve a little flogging, take a little soup after your ride Sir!" A terrified Alderman, hair on end, puts his hands on Curtis's shoulders, saying, "Dear me how familiar you are with a Ghost Billy for my part my hair stand and, tell him I have not had a cut at the darling." Behind John stands Whitbread, arms raised; he shouts: "Run Monster, run Van I would not give one of my old butts for him." (Vansittart is not depicted.) A little man whose neck is joined to his breeches showing he is Nobody (see No. 12438, &c.) says to the Monster: "Nobody pities you upon my honor."
2 January 1815
- Production date
Height: 210 millimetres
Width: 513 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', IX, 1949)
On 13 Dec. at a meeting of the Common Hall, the most democratic body of the Corporation, to petition against a continuation of the Income Tax, resolutions were carried unanimously that the City M.P.s should present the petition. Waithman conducted the business and received a vote of thanks. Other speakers included Curtis who 'was occasionally laughed at'. 'Examiner', 18 Dec. 1814. The tax was 'Pitt's child', cf. No. 10557. News of peace with America, signed 24 Dec. at Ghent, reached London on 36 Dec. Many petitions against the Income Tax were being prepared for the meeting of Parliament, see Nos. 12507, 12556, 12750, &c.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number