- Museum number
- Object: Read, mark, learn and inwardly digest
George III speaking to Lord Amherst, who wears general's uniform and holds a bull (John Bull) by one horn. They are three-quarter length figures, the legs of the men and the bull being cut off by the margin of the design. Amherst, in profile to the right, very thin, holds out in his left hand to the king a paper on which are crossed sabres inscribed "A plan for taming A Bull". The king says, "I hear You made a fine Disposition You You You soon tame'd the Bull" (a burlesque of George III's manner of conversation). Amherst answers, "Yes Sir and now is Your time to make this Bull so tame as to bend like a Camel to receive his Burden". The bull says, "Dont Reckon without Your Host". George III is holding a document, [Petitions the Groom of the Stool (cf. BMSat 5680, &c). A minister or courtier standing behind him (right) holds "petitions from the Scum of the Earth". [Burke had called the Middlesex magistrates the "scum of the earth", 8 May 1780, in a debate on calling out the military to suppress riots. 'Parl. Hist.' xxi. 592.] His profile suggests Lord Sandwich. An outstretched arm, the hand holding a spying-glass, appears, its owner cut off by the right edge of the print; on the sleeve is a large fleur-de-lys. On the left, behind the bull, a citizen is in conversation with a soldier holding a musket, with its bayonet thrust through "The Humble petition". In the background burning houses and a crowd are indicated. Beneath the design is etched:
Citizen - Now Soldier if I & my Neighbours were all of us to get Guns we should have no Occasion for you Red Coats Among us should we?
Soldier - No to be sure you would not.
Cit - Then we could from our Windows shoot Rioters or defend our Liberties
and the British Constitution if need were?
Sol - You Fool, have you found that out at last. A Word to the Wise." 13 July 1780
- Production date
Height: 241 millimetres
Width: 342 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', V, 1935)
The attempts (after the suppression of the riots) of the citizens of London to arm themselves, as well as their resentment at the presence of troops in the city, caused considerable trouble, but were dealt with tactfully and successfully by the Government, by Amherst, and by Colonel Twisleton who was in command of the Guards in the city, see 'Ann. Reg.', 1780, pp.266-71.
This attitude towards the troops was supported by Lord Shelburne and some others of the Opposition, see 'Parl. History', xvi. 671, 691, 726 ff. It was the opinion of some of the Opposition that the riots had been encouraged by the Government for political ends: "the deepest schemers for absolute power long for insurrection". Walpole, 'Letters', xi. 281, 24 Sept. 1780. See also BMSat 5682, 5683, 5689, 5690, 6006. For the riots see BMSat 5679, &c.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
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