- Museum number
- Object: A New Method of Macarony Making, as practised at Boston in North America
No. 217 in Bowles's smaller series. Two Bostonians tarring and feathering a customs officer. The victim, completely covered with feathers, kneels on one knee, his hands clasped. A rope is round his neck, its frayed end held by the American on the right. He looks round with a face of anguish to the other American (left) who holds a large teapot, the spout of which is against the feathered man's right shoulder. Behind is a gallows with a broken rope, suggesting that the victim has already endured a partial hanging. The man with the teapot wears a large plain hat, the figure "45" written large both on the crown and the upturned brim. The other Bostonian holds a club over his left shoulder, he wears a large favour in his hat showing that he is one of the Sons of Liberty. Both men look grinning at their victim; both wear striped breeches. Trees form a background. 12 October 1774
- Production date
Height: 152 millimetres
Width: 113 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', V, 1935)
A satire on the treatment given to John Malcom or Malcomb, an unpopular Commissioner of Customs, at Boston, as recorded in the English newspapers shortly before its publication. On 27 Jan. 1774 he had been tarred and feathered, led to the gallows with a rope round his neck, on the way there being forced as a torture to drink enormous quantities of tea. His offence was in attempting to collect Customs duties; it was not connected with the Boston Tea Party. R. T. Halsey, 'The Boston Port Bill', 1904, pp. 77-82. For his memorial to the Government of Massachusetts begging for relief and redress and his petition to the King for compensation and employment see 'Hist. MSS. Comm., Dartmouth MSS.', i, p. 348, ii, pp. 192, 263.
Wilkes was a national hero in the colonies and "45" a patriotic symbol. "Liberty Tree" at Boston was reported to be decorated with "Number 45, Wilkes and liberty". 'London Chronicle', 13-16 Aug. 1768.
Reproduced, 'Social England', ed. Traill, 1904, v, p. 447.
A larger version with the same date, not in the British Museum, was published by Bowles as No. 306 in his series of folio mezzotints. The title ends at the word 'Boston', and beneath are the lines,
"For the Custom House Officers landing the Tea,
They Tarr'd him, and Feather'd him just as you see,
And they drench'd him so well both behind and before,
That he begg'd for God's sake they would drench him no more."
Reproduced R. T. Halsey, 'op. cit.', p. 92.
Another print, a folio line engraving, was issued by Carington Bowles on 2 June 1775 with the same title as BMSat 5232 and the verses quoted above. Malcomb is being lowered by ropes from the window of his house into a cart, before receiving his "American suit". R. T. Halsey, 'op. cit.', 121 n.
Another mezzotint depicting the same incident as BMSat 5232 probably by P. Dawe, was published by Sayer and Bennett, 31 Oct. 1774 with the title, 'Plate I. The Bostonians Paying the Excise-man, or Tarring & Feathering'. Reproduced R.T. Halsey, 'op. cit.', p. 83 and J. T. Adams, 'Revolutionary New England', p. 39. Malcomb, on his knees, tarred and feathered, his head pressed backwards, is being forced by five men to drink from a tea-pot; one of them holds a rope which is round his neck. They are under "Liberty Tree" (r.) from a branch of which dangles a rope. On its trunk is a Placard inscribed "Stamp Act, upside down". Behind (l.) is a ship with furled sails from which masked men are emptying tea-chests into the water (the Boston tea-party). BMSat 5241, 5284 belong to the same series.
The treatment of Malcomb is also the subject of a French engraving, John Malcom, by Godefroy in 'Recueil d'Estampes représentant. . .la Guerre qui a procuré l'Indépendance aux États unis . . ." (Print Department). Malcom, "ce fier maltôtier", is being lowered by ropes from his house into a cart. 'Collection de Vinck', BMSat 1164.
For a coloured impression see 1935,0522.2.120.c
- Not on display
- Associated events
- Associated Event: Boston Tea Party 1774
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number