- Museum number
- Object: The phenix of Elba resuscitated by treason.
Plate from the 'Scourge', ix. 321. A phoenix with the head of Napoleon emerges from a cauldron of flames. Projecting from his profile is a bird's large beak; on his head are a laurel-wreath and bonnet rouge. From his beak come the words "Veni Vidi Vici." The cauldron is supported on the talons of a bird of prey, and is encircled by a serpent from whose jaws issue flames and the word "WAR". Flames under the cauldron are produced by burning documents inscribed 'Connundrum'. A witch or Fury (right) with hands dripping blood holds a wand against the breast of the 'Phenix', uttering an incantation with raised right hand: "Rise Spirit that can never rest, Offspring of Treason!—sweet Bloodthirsty soul— come forth!!" She is a grotesque and skinny hag, with pendent breasts. Four French marshals or generals, on a much smaller scale than the witch (probably those of No. 12527), caper round the cauldron with gestures of ecstatic delight. One (left) has a long nose and a queue which reaches the ground; he is evidently Ney (cf. No. 12516). He says: "Ah! ha! by gar now shall begin our Bloody work again." Above the flames, and emerging from dark clouds is Fate, a winged female figure, looking down, and holding out in the right hand a crown and hand of Justice (cf. No. 12247), in the other a noose of rope and a tiny guillotine. She says: "Rise! Rise, thou favord son of Fate! Death or a Diadem shall reward thy labours." Below her three fantastic little demons are flying, inscribed respectively 'Treason', 'Rapine', 'Murder'; the last holds a dagger in each hand. Smaller creatures are flying in the clouds. The cauldron stands upon a rocky plateau (as in Gillray's 'Phœnix', see No. 11007) at the base of the design; this is surrounded by heavy clouds of smoke through which soldiers are marching towards it from left and right. They have sub-human faces, wear bonnets rouges, and carry bayonets, pikes, and flags surmounted by eagles. They shout "Vive l'Empreur."
In the upper part of the design on the left and right are subordinate scenes on a smaller scale. On the left the Regent sits on a cushion in an oriental manner, in a tent topped by his feathers. Behind him is a large decanter, and in his right hand a long tobacco-pipe. He looks apprehensively at Castlereagh (right), who approaches deferentially, holding out two documents: 'Return of Boney to Paris' and 'Decision of Congress'. Castlereagh: "May it please my Prince but these are events we never calculated upon. I had no objection to the Sacrifise of Saxony. to the Ambition of Prussia, I had no objection to the Views of Alexander upon Poland I had no Objection to the Transfer of Norway to Sweden I had no Objection to the Union of Belgium with Holland I had no Objection to all these things but I could not foresee that the people would be dissatisfied and wish for the return of Buonaparte, to which I have every Objection." Behind him is a large money-bag inscribed 'Acct of my Expences'. The Regent, with a gesture of alarm, answers: "How? shall I lose Hanover shall I lose all we have been fighting for." (Cf. No. 12550.)
As a pendant to this (right), Wellington, sword in hand, gallops down hill and to the left towards the 'Phenix'. On a parallel road, divided from that on which Wellington is riding by bushes and a sign-post, Louis XVIII rides uphill and to the right on an ass. His gouty legs bestride a large bundle strapped to the ass and inscribed 'Jewels' (see No. 12534). He beats the ass with his crutch, saying, "Gee up Neddy, adieu to the lilly in the violet season adieu to my good City of Paris." The sign-post points (left) 'To Belgium', and (right) 'To Vienna'. The roads are at the foot of a cliff on which is a small pavilion with a domed roof inscribed 'Solomans Temple'. This has an open front which is flanked by two elongated figures or terms serving as pillars; they are men with sly expressions and ass's ears, wearing conical fool's caps. Within the 'temple' five little men sit round a large cake as in No. 12453. On the left is Alexander, pointing to 'Poland', and saying "Ill have this." Next is Bernadotte, opposite 'Norway', saying, "give me some of that." Next are the King of Prussia and the Emperor of Austria, both opposite 'Saxony'. The latter says "Ill have this," Frederick William answers "No you shan't Ill have it." Wellington bends over the cake in silence; a fat Dutchman, smoking a pipe, William I, looks over his shoulder towards a paper inscribed 'Belgium', saying, "I'll have that." An owl is perched on the architrave of the temple, looking down at the conference.
1 May 1815.
- Production date
Height: 245 millimetres
Width: 350 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', IX, 1949)
The return of Napoleon, see No. 12506, &c., is combined with an attack on Castlereagh for his conduct at Vienna which is based on ignorance, on faction, and on the sympathy felt for Poland, Norway, and Saxony, cf. No. 12523. The union of Holland and Belgium, however, was the result of British diplomatic activity in 1814 and 1815. See Renier, 'Great Britain and the Establishment of the Kingdom of the Netherlands 1813-1815', 1930, pp. 199 ff. The Regent is accused of caring only for the interests of his family in Hanover. Wellington left Vienna on 29 Mar., and travelling at great speed reached Brussels on 4 Apr. In the debate of 7 Apr., see No. 12534, opponents of a renewal of the war maintained that Napoleon's return was by the will of the French people, others that he was supported only by the army (cf. No. 12538). For the 'violet season' see No. 12512, &c.
Reid, No. 479. Cohn, No. 752. Broadley, i. 382 f.
Uncoloured impressions not folded, showing that it was issued separately.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number