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Dispute between monopoly and power Satirist 1st March 1813

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • Dispute between monopoly and power Satirist 1st March 1813
  • Description

    Plate from the 'Satirist', xii. 193. The explanatory text has the additional title: 'A Story about Humpty Dumpty'. Monopoly is a huge hydra with twenty-four (human) heads, with a great naked paunch and arms; this paunch terminates in the vast scaly coils of a serpent. It fills the centre of the design; its barbed tail stretches behind Power, a stalwart man representing the might of the British Empire, and is directed against his back. Power straddles across a gulf, his right foot resting on the top of a pillar surmounted by a tasselled cushion, and inscribed 'Pillar of the Constitution'; the other rests on the 'Rock of Liberty' (right). He wears an oddly shaped high-crowned hat inscribed 'Cap of Knowledge', a buttoned jacket and short trousers. His jacket is covered with pockets, all buttoned up and empty except one large centre one inscribed 'London' which is heaped with guineas. The others are quite flat and are inscribed respectively 'Liverpool', 'Hull', 'Dublin', 'Bristol', 'Cork', 'Glasgow'. His right sleeve is covered with a pattern of ships, realistically drawn, the left with marching soldiers, to show that India is defended by the forces of the Crown, as well as by those of the Company. The left hand of the monster holds a chain attached to the leg of a vulture, which, half-supported on a coil of the serpentine tail, gnaws at the side of Power, piercing his coat. Power clenches his fist, and glares angrily towards the monster, saying, "I am free myself, and my Ports shall be free, and All my pockets filled—Have I nourished the Serpent till it stings its Benefactor?"
    The heads of the monster are burlesqued; one is in profile to the right, directing against Power a label: 'How dare you call a Charter a Grant? I'll Grant you!!!' He is evidently Charles Grant. Six other labels from the heads of the monster contain puns: 'You shall find a great deal of Gall besides Ben-Gall'; 'We will Cant-On'; 'Let us try Gull if we cannot Mo-Gull'; 'Alas I am no better than Rajah Pout'; 'Oh Mysore!!!' (the last two heads are upside down). The labels relating to Rajput and Mogul are directed towards a porcelain mandarin with a gourd-shaped body and wearing a wide-brimmed conical hat. It is seated on the corner of a high brick wall (left), but is toppling forward. A seventh label is directed towards it :
    'Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall!
    Humpty Dumpty had a great fall!
    Not all the Kings horses, nor all the Kings men
    Could set Humpty Dumpty up again!!!'
    (The nursery rhyme appears first in the 1810 ed. of 'Gammer Gurton's Garland, O.E.D.') The wall rises from a solid stone terrace, the right edge of which touches the leftmost coil of the hydra. In the background (left) are a Chinese pagoda like the one in Kew Gardens, a palm-tree, and a humped bridge.
    1 March 1813
    Hand-coloured etching


  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1813
  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 193 millimetres
    • Width: 359 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Lettered: "Satirist invt / W. H. Ekoorb delt Aqua Fortis fecit."
  • Curator's comments

    (Description and comment from M. Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', IX, 1949)
    The text is a violent attack on the East India Company and its efforts to have its Charter renewed. For the controversy see No. 11999, &c. The twenty-four heads are the members of the Court of Directors; for their names see 'Royal Kalendar', 1813, p. 316. The Chairman and Deputy-Chairman were Sir Hugh Inglis and Robert Thornton. These are indicated in the text, followed by 'Buzzing-Kit' (Jacob Bosanquet), 'a (Met-) calf' (Sir T. T. Metcalfe); the others indicated are George Millett, William Wigram, Joseph Cotton, Edward Parry, Thomas Reid, Richard Twining, John Bladen Taylor. The Company retained its monopoly of trade with China (carried on through Canton) under the new Charter. The Directors have been unjustly traduced in political and commercial controversy as self-interested monopolists. See C. H. Philips, 'The East India Company 1784-1834', 1940, pp. 299-305 and 'passim'.


  • Bibliography

    • BM Satires 12017 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (British XVIIIc Mounted Roy)

  • Exhibition history

    2013, Jun-Aug, Sydney, Australian NMM, 'East of India'

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number


FOR DESCRIPTION SEE GEORGE (BMSat)   Hand-coloured etching

FOR DESCRIPTION SEE GEORGE (BMSat) Hand-coloured etching

Image description



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