- Museum number
- Object: The root of king's evil
After the title: '—NB, To Cure ye Constitution of this Evil ye Axe must be laid to ye Root.' A clerical magistrate (right) with a drink-blotched nose, seated in his library, is terrified at the apparition of 'a Radical', an imp whose limbs are gnarled and forked roots. A large book is open on a book-rest: 'Etymology—Radical—ex Radix, is a root—& Color is heat, anger Strife—q.d. The Root of all Strife.' A candle beside the book gutters wildly in a wind from the imp who stands poised on the rim of an inverted Cap of Liberty resting on clouds of smoke; he supports himself between two pikes which project, slanting outwards, from the cap; on one is the bleeding head of a bishop, on the other a royal crown, broken. The second pike serves as staff to a tricolour flag bordered with black and inscribed: 'Blood! Blood!! Blood!!!! Reform & Plunder Watson Thistlewood Preston Hooper, Waddington Harrison-Hunt Pearson Wood Waithman Parkins &c &c—Cobbet, Carlile, Tom Paine, Burdett little Hobb [Hobhouse], Death & the Devil—No King No, God.' This pike-shaft is thrust through a dilapidated 'Magna Charta' whose seal falls off; the other transfixes a tattered 'Holy Bible', from which flutters a page headed 'St Mark'. The parson, interrupted in his reading, holds his spectacles, and stares at the imp, saying: "In the Name of Satan, What—Imp, are you, & where was you-hatched?!!!—" The 'Root': "In hell your worship, I'm a Radical, give me leave to present—you a list of a few of my best friends"; the flag is directed towards the parson, at whose feet is a book, 'Burns Justice', open at a page headed 'Treason'. On book shelves beside him are large folio volumes, three lettered: 'History of Babylon', 'History of the French Revolution', and 'History of Rebellion', the last leaning against a (cracked) terrestrial globe.
- Production date
Height: 208 millimetres
Width: 264 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', X, 1952)
For the radical see No. 13271, &c.; for the clerical magistrate, an object of hatred since 'Peterloo', No. 13281, &c. The radicals mentioned are in a (roughly) descending scale from revolutionary extremists to Hobhouse the whig-radical (see Index and Vol. ix). For Reform as 'the axe to the root', a phrase of Horne Tooke's which reappeared 1831-2, see Nos. 8817, 11323, 12110. The anti-Christian and anti-clerical aspect of the radical agitation is stressed.
A pencil sketch is in the B.M.; on the reverse is that for No. 13504. Binyon, i. 284(17).
Reid, No. 935. Cohn, No. 1913. Reissued, 'Cruikshankiana', 1835.
Cohn attributes it to Marryat; his anchor emblem is absent.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: 1891,1116.179