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Mr Trade & family or the state of ye nation

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • Mr Trade & family or the state of ye nation
  • Description

    A family of beggars standing in a row; the man (left), his clothes in rags, holds out his hat; on his coat pocket, turned inside out and in holes, is the word useless; he says, "I was once a Capital Dealer but thro' ye Obstinacy of one man & ye Villainy of many More - am reduced to Beggary". His wife, an infant in her arms, is a ballad singer; she holds a broadside and sings, "Oh I wish that ye Wars were all over". The little girl next her sings, were all over; her arm is round her younger brother's neck, he sings, all over, while an infant on his left clad only in a ragged shirt, echoes over. This last child holds by a string a toy-horse on wheels, on which sits a figure of the king wearing his crown and Garter ribbon. On the right is the side of a building on which is a rectangular sun-dial, inscribed "Dum species Fugio". In front of it is a tree-stump with bare branches on which sit two owls. They say "Long live Sultan - as long as He lives, We shall never want Ruin'd Towns & Villages - Vid. SPEC". From a branch hangs a kite by its tail, inscribed "in ye Reign of ye best of Princes". On the left is a row of three houses of diminishing size, all "To Let". (There were in 1779 "no less than 1,104 empty houses within the City of London". Macpherson, 'Annals of Commerce', iii. 649.)
    In the middle distance is a hunting scene: the king wearing his crown followed by another rider holding a club, chases a stag with three dogs. On the horizon, on the farther side of a stretch of water, two towns are seen in flames; one, left, is inscribed "Norfolk", the other, right, is "Æsopus". Norfolk, Virginia, was bombarded 1 Jan. 1776 by Lord Dunmore the Governor and afterwards burnt by the Americans to prevent Dunmore's establishing himself there. Æsopus was burnt by General Vaughan, Oct. 1777, see BMSat 5470.
    Beneath the design is engraved: "To his Excely Genl Washington. Pat. Patæ. This Plate is humbly Address'd by His Obedient Servt Thos Tradeless

    Oh Wash'gton is there not some Chosen Curse
    Some Hidden Thunder; in the stores of Heav'n,
    Red with uncommon Wrath, to BLAST those MEN,
    Who owe their Greatness to their Country's RUIN
    Addiss Cato."

    Above the design are the words "Veluti in Speculum" (which then ornamented the proscenium of the theatre). December 1779 Etching


  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1779
  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 251 millimetres
    • Width: 347 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Lettered: "St----t, B---rn--d, & Co Origt G--rm--e, N-----h & Co Exect" and "Publish'd by Virtue of Parliament not this day in particular - Dec. 1779"
  • Curator's comments

    (Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', V, 1935)
    The supposed artists' names indicate that the war and the distresses of the country are due to the designs of 'Stuart' (Bute), which have been carried out by Germain, North and Co., and (presumably) to Sir Francis Bernard, Governor of Massachusetts (1760-9), who gave great offence to the colonists. For the phrase 'State of the Nation' cf. BMSat 5479. For distress caused by the war cf. BMSat 5535, 5548 [12], 5667. The king is now regarded as a tyrant - 'Sultan', through whose obstinacy the country is in distress, cf. BMSat 5544-7.


  • Bibliography

    • BM Satires 5574 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (Satires British 1779 Unmounted Roy)

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number




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