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John Bull bother'd:-or-the geese alarming the Capitol.

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • John Bull bother'd:-or-the geese alarming the Capitol.
  • Description

    Pitt stands, in profile to the right, on a fortified tower, or platform, in the crenellations of which are cannon; he looks through a spy-glass, his knees bending with fear, and clutches by the arm a stout John Bull (left), a yokel (as in BMSat 7889), who stands full face, almost equally terrified. He is watching a flight of geese advancing from the right, and says, "There, John! - there! there they are! - I see them - get your Arms ready, John! - they're Rising & coming upon us from all parts; - there! - theres Ten Thousand sans-Culottes now on their passage! - & there! look on the other side, the Scotch have caught the Itch too; and the Wild-Irish have begun to pull off their Breeches! - what will become of us John? - & see, there's Five Hundred Disputing-Clubs, with bloody Mouths; - & Twenty Thousand Bill-stickers with Ca ira pasted on the front of their Red-Caps ! - where's the Lord Mayor John ? - are the Lions safe ? - down with the Book-stalls! - blow up the Gin-shops! - cut off the Printers Ears! - O Lord John! - O Lord! - we're all ruined! - they'l Murder us, and make us into Aristocrat Pyes!" John Bull answers: "Aristocrat Pyes ? - Lord defend us! - Wounds, Measter, you frighten a poor honest simple Fellow out of his wits! - Gin-Shops & Printers-Ears! - & Bloody-Clubs & Lord Mayors! - and Wild-Irishmen without Breeches, & Sans-Culottes! Lord have mercy upon our Wives & Daughters! - And yet, I'll be shot, if I can see any thing myself, but a few Geese, gabbling together - But Lord help my silly head, how should, such a Clod-pole as I, be able to see any thing Right ? - I dont know what occasion for I to see at all, for that matter; - why Measter does all that for I, - my business is only to Fire when & where Measter orders, & to pay for the Gunpowder; - but Measter o' mine, (if I may speak a word,) where's the use of Firing now? - what can us two do against all them Hundreds of Thousands of Millions of Monsters ? - Lord, Measter, had not we better try if they won't shake hands with us, & be Friends ? - for if we should go to fighting with them, & They should Lather Us, what will become of you & I, then, Measter!!!"
    John Bull, frightened and bemused, holds a musket with a broken bayonet, his left hand is in his coat-pocket, and he wears very wrinkled gaiters. In his hat are two favours, one 'Vive la Liberte', the other 'God save the King'. A pamphlet projects from each waistcoat-pocket: one, Paine's 'Rights of Man' (see BMSat 7867, &c), the other 'Pennyworth of Truth'. This is the pamphlet 'One Pennyworth of Truth, from Thomas Bull to his Brother John' denounced by Grey (17 Dec.) as a libel. 'Parl. Hist.' xxx. 138 ff. It attacked Price and Priestley and was by the Rev. William Jones. 'Hist. MSS. Comm., Kenyon MSS.', p. 536. Pitt's hair rises on his head, and his face is blotched with drink. After the title is etched :

    '"Thus on the Rock, heroic Manlius stood,
    "Spy'd out the Geese, & prov'd Rome's guardian God.' 19 December 1792
    Hand-coloured etching and aquatint


  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1792
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 312 millimetres
    • Width: 393 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Lettered: 'Price 3 shills - The engraving not having been Paid for, by the Associaciations for vending two'penny Scurrilities [see BMSat 8138].', 'Js Gy desn et fect - pro bono publico.' and 'Pubd Decr 19th 1792, by H. Humphrey N° 18 Old Bond Street.'
  • Curator's comments

    (Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', VI, 1938)
    Probably a satire on the calling out of part of the militia by proclamation on 1 Dec, partly in order to repress riots; the news from Scotland and from Ireland was alarming. Rose, 'Pitt and the Great War', pp. 77-8. Cf. the debate of 13 Dec. when Fox said (ironically): 'An insurrection! Where is it? . . . Good God! an insurrection in Great Britain! No wonder that the militia were called out. . . .' 'Parl. Hist.' xxx. 14. Grose gives 'Bothered, or both-eared. Talked to at both ears by different persons at the same time, confounded, confused'. 'Dict. Vulg. Tongue', 1796. The 'O.E.D.' gives the verb to bother (Anglo-Irish) = to bewilder with noise (1718). For the reform clubs and associations and their addresses to France see 'Ann. Reg.', 1792, ii. 128* ff. See also P. A. Brown, 'The French Rev. and English Hist.' 89 ff., 131 ff. Gillray anticipates the verdict of history in his attitude to Pitt's fears of sedition, cf. BMSat 8095. For subsidized prints, cf. BMSat 8149, &c.
    Grego, 'Gillray', pp. 153-4. Wright and Evans, No. 93. Reprinted, 'G.W.G.', 1830.


  • Bibliography

    • BM Satires 8141 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (British XVIIIc Unmounted Roy)

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number


FOR DESCRIPTION SEE GEORGE. (BMSat). 1792  Hand-coloured etching and aquatint

FOR DESCRIPTION SEE GEORGE. (BMSat). 1792 Hand-coloured etching and aquatint

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