Checklist Part 5
In 1801, King George III invited another Tory, Henry Addington, to take William Pitt’s place as Prime Minister. When Pitt left office in March, other members of his ministry also resigned, including George Canning, Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Gillray’s patron. With this change of regime, Gillray’s government pension ended (as did any restrictions he may have felt in dealing with certain political topics and figures).
Probably prompted by a suggestion from Canning or one of his friends,
passed along by the Reverend John Sneyd, Gillray here indicates that
the members of the new ministry are not “fitted” for or equal
to their new positions. Addington is dwarfed by Pitt’s hat, coat,
and jackboots; the Foreign Secretary Baron Hawkesbury (Robert Jenkinson)
swims in Grenville’s trousers; Lord Eldon is invisible under the
Chancellor’s wig that had fitted Loughborough; while Lord Hobart
is dwarfed by trousers made from a kilt previously worn by Secretary
of State for War Dundas. Lord Glenbervie, the new Joint Paymaster-General,
finds George Canning’s slippers several sizes too large. The vertical
accents of the speech bubbles are repeated in the upright quills, held “like
weapons” by the two new Treasury secretaries.
No longer on the government payroll, Gillray turned his sights on the Tory ministry, led by Henry Addington. Here, he imagines William Windham, War Minister during Pitt’s administration, dreaming of the horrors that will transpire when the Peace of Amiens, then under negotiation, is signed. Lord Hawkesbury, Addington’s Foreign Secretary, is guided by the now retired Pitt to put his signature on England’s death warrant. Britannia, her wrists bound and her head in a noose, is dragged off by Napoleon toward a guillotine. A skeleton, wearing a bonnet rouge and walking on stilts made of spears, treads on a “List of British Conquests,” alluding to the fact that under the terms of the treaty, England would lose Malta and the Cape of Good Hope, while France would retain all her conquests and her vassal colonies and would recover all her former colonies. The Opposition politicians appear as rats feeding on pensions and other benefits. While a devil with Fox’s face sings a revolutionary chant, Justice, in the foreground, bows her head in despair. According to British historian M. Dorothy George, this print was so popular that it sold out in a few days.
Still retired from Parliament, Charles James Fox, during the lull in the war offered by the Peace of Amiens, was in France from July 29 to November 17, 1802, to research his history of James II and the Revolution of 1688. On September 3, he was received at the Tuileries by Napoleon, now designated “First Consul for Life.” Gillray provides Napoleon with the accoutrements of power. Flanked by Mameluke guards, he is seated upon a canopied throne, whose armrests are ornamented with terrestrial globes. Behind the throne, a carved sun wall relief, harkening back to Louis XIV, the Sun King, is wide-eyed with surprise at the arrival of this new ruler. Napoleon’s guests acknowledge his elevated status: Fox bows low, while another member of his retinue prostrates himself. According to Fox’s secretary, Fox was, in fact, quite restrained in his praise of the First Consul for Life, perhaps with his home audience in mind.
Gillray’s title alludes to the roguish protagonist of Ben Jonson’s satiric comedy Volpone, or the Fox to cast aspersions on Fox’s character.
The Treaty of Paris was signed in March 1802. However, Napoleon continued his territorial expansion, annexing Piedmont, Elba, Parma, and Switzerland, justifying Gillray’s cynical view of the treaty. Gillray plays upon national stereotypes: a tall, thin, fashionably dressed French suitor pays court to a plump, opulently dressed Britannia. Shield and trident set aside, she is won over by his charm, but knows he “would deceive [her] again.” In the background, portraits of George III (Gillray’s first of the King since his pension began in 1797) and Napoleon regard each other warily. Napoleon was said to be very amused by this print.
In six of seven satires between December 1802 and May 1803, Gillray attacked the Addington administration for its conciliatory attitude toward Napoleon. Most of these satires were made after his own designs, and several were self-published (including A Phantasmagoria [#89], German-Nonchalence [#91], and Maniac-Raving’s [#92]), rather than issued by Mrs. Humphrey. Here, Britannia, a massive baby, sleeps (drugged, perhaps, by the opiate on the mantle), attended by her female “nursemaids.” Prime Minister Addington rocks her cradle, while Foreign Secretary Lord Hawkesbury arranges the child’s commode, and Fox, recently back from France and his audience with Napoleon, hangs up diapers. Allusions to France abound, from the tricolor ribbons in the nursemaids’ hair to the print (above the mantelpiece) of Napoleon dancing and playing a fiddle. It had become clear that the Treaty of Amiens had not slowed Napoleon’s expansionist plans, and the commercial advantages, promised by the Addington ministry, had not materialized. Napoleon instead blocked British trade with Holland and Italy.
On March 8, 1803, George III recommended that the House strengthen England’s defenses in the face of a possible French invasion. Prime Minister Addington, who hoped for peace, recommended military measures solely for defense, while Sheridan boasted that the present state of preparedness was sufficient. Gillray’s response, based on a suggestion from the Reverend John Sneyd, shows Addington waving smelling salts (gunpowder) before a distraught and disheveled Britannia, who is supported by Foreign Secretary Lord Hawkesbury, while Sheridan, dressed as Harlequin, assures Britannia of her military might. Fox, hiding his eyes behind his hat, sees no danger and reassures her, “I can’t see any thing of the Buggabo’s!” In the background, Napoleon leads an armada across the Channel. The “Treaty of Peace” lies in tatters on the ground. Hostilities would, in fact, resume on May 18, 1803.
On March 27, 1802, the Treaty of Amiens was signed by Britain, France, Spain, and the Batavian Republic (Holland). Gillray clearly believed this was a disastrous peace agreement. In the guise of Macbeth’s three witches, Prime Minister Addington (left), Charles James Fox (right background), and Lord Hawkesbury, the Foreign Secretary, boil the British lion in a pot, fueled by paper, inscribed with references to strategic advantages and territories England had discarded, among them “Dominion of the Sea,” Egypt, Cape of Good Hope, and Malta. A Gallic rooster, wearing a bonnet rouge, crows triumphantly on the lion’s severed head. A spectral skeleton – all that is left of Britannia – rises up from the pot, framed by a cloud of Peace.
British historian M. Dorothy George explains that the word “Phantasmagoria” refers to a new French invention whereby images on a transparent screen seemed to appear and disappear, advance or recede, by means of lenses and concave reflectors. Gillray must also have been familiar with a popular “ghost” show playing at the time at the Lyceum Theatre.
With George III as Jonathan Swift’s King of Brobdingnag and Napoleon as Gulliver, this print, after a sketch by an amateur artist, Lieutenant Colonel Braddyll, pokes fun at Napoleon’s size and his abrasive, belligerent personality, while it trivializes the threat of French invasion. With but one exception, Gillray portrayed Napoleon as a lean, angular figure, which did not reflect Napoleon’s expanding girth.
As was the case here, Gillray throughout his career made prints after the designs of amateurs, which was an important source of income for the artist. These could range from a mere scribbled suggestion to a finished drawing. Beginning in September 1796, he signed his own designs, “ inv: et fect”; those after another’s sketch, “d: et ft” or “des: et fect,” or a similar variation, or he simply left the print unsigned.
Gillray executed twenty Napoleonic satires in 1803. The story that was concocted to explain this satire alleged that when Count Starhemberg, Austrian Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to England, passed through Paris, he failed to pay his respects to Napoleon. In actuality, Napoleon ordered the Count, en route to London, to leave Paris on short notice. As Draper Hill and Richard Godfrey have pointed out, this is the first appearance of Gillray’s classic invention of “Little Boney,” “small, but horribly energetic, vain, paranoid, easily distressed, a guttersnipe aping his betters, ridiculous, but fearsome nonetheless.”
A major collector of caricatures, Starhemberg was an important client of Gillray’s and Hannah Humphrey’s. Gillray, who served here as artist, printmaker, and publisher, must have wanted to flatter his patron by issuing this print on the first day of 1803 (along with The First Kiss This Ten Years [#86])
As he did in German-Nonchalence (#91), Gillray delights in portraying Napoleon in a fit of anger, ridiculing Napoleon’s grievances and demands around the time war resumed on May 18, 1803. Napoleon rails against British newspapers and the freedom of the press, Parliament, and British involvement in Egypt and Malta, and stomps his feet on the Anti-Jacobin Review, Cobbett’s Weekly Journal, and former War Minister Windham’s speeches. Scattered when he overturned a desk and his Consular chair are documents: “List of Future Conquests,” “Expedition a la Lune,” “Plan for Invading Gt. Britain” (Napoleon allegedly had threatened to invade England, leading 480,000 men). This satire particularly alludes to events that took place at the Tuileries, described in a dispatch of March 14, when Napoleon, in a breach of diplomatic protocol, verbally attacked the British Ambassador, Lord Whitworth, before a gathering of foreign ministers.
Although the danger of invasion was more acute than in 1803, domestic politics generally dominated satirical prints in 1804. Here, Gillray comments on the incompetence of the Addington ministry, particularly on issues relating to defense and finance. Prime Minister Addington has hopelessly bogged the state wagon in the mud. He calls for help from John Bull, who points to the herd of horses with the heads of political leaders, grouped to suggest alliances. Fox puts a foreleg over Baron Grenville’s shoulder, as former Prime Minister William Pitt regards them with restrained approval and George Canning looks on intently. Clearly at odds, Sheridan and former Secretary of War Windham kick each other. Gillray suggests that Pitt, soon to be named the new Prime Minister, had hoped to form a “broad-based coalition” that would have included Fox as Foreign Secretary, an arrangement vehemently opposed by the King. Instead, Pitt formed a ministry of Addington’s supporters and his own allies.
Addington’s ministry and political in-fighting, according to Gillray, have left Britannia vulnerable to Napoleon. Henry Addington (nicknamed the Doctor by George Canning, alluding to his father’s position as court physician) stepped down as Prime Minister, and William Pitt returned to office in May 1804. Gillray shows the “new doctor” Pitt kicking out the “old doctor” Addington and treading upon Fox, unaware that Britannia is threatened by the Death figure of Napoleon. A glowing vial of “Constitutional Restorative,” held aloft by Pitt, promises to be Britannia’s salvation. M. Dorothy George points out that this is the “only print in 1804 to treat invasion as the danger that it was.”
The King forbade Pitt to include Fox in a “broad-based coalition,” and given the King’s fragile mental health, Pitt did not press the issue. Once again there was the possibility of a Regency. Grenville, who refused to join Pitt without Fox, aligned himself with the Foxites, the Prince’s friends, and other members of the Opposition. The Prince met regularly with his “Cabinet,” while making plans for a “cooperation” led by Fox and Grenville.
Gillray imagines an elaborate soirée, which brings together members
of various factions loyal to the Prince’s interests. M. Dorothy
George and others believe that Gillray also intended to suggest a scenario
in which Fox appears as First Consul after the execution of the King
and the proclamation of a republic. Among those whom Gillray depicts
attending this political “who’s who” are: in the center,
Mr. and Mrs. Fox (her fan decorated with a portrait of Napoleon), who
greet the “three Grenvilles,” bespectacled Buckingham, Baron
Grenville, and his nephew, Temple. Behind Mrs. Fox are the
In this burlesque of academic history painting, Gillray transforms the ousting of Henry Addington as Prime Minister into a mock-heroic contest between the Gods and the Giants, portrayed as less than ideal nudes. Addington as Apollo, joined by Minerva and Neptune (Lord Hawkesbury, Foreign Secretary, and St. Vincent, First Lord of the Admiralty), fires a syringe at an “unholy alliance” below. In return, William Pitt hurls a package of “Knock-down Arguments,” while tartan-wearing Dundas waves his sword and youthful George Canning prepares to lob more documents. Charles James Fox, hoisted aloft by Lord Grenville and his brother, Buckingham (always wearing glasses), fires a blunderbuss at Addington. Pitt’s former War Minister Windham, armed with a shield, gets ready to launch a spear. As Richard Godfrey notes, the day before this print was published, the King asked Pitt to form a new administration.
Drawing upon his memories of an 1802 election procession, Gillray depicts the players in a special 1804 general election, which marked a revival of radicalism in Westminster and Middlesex. Francis Burdett, who as an Independent contested the seat of an unpopular ministerial candidate, William Mainwaring, receives the adulation of his radical and Whig supporters. His carriage is drawn along by Foxites: the driver is Horne Tooke, while Sheridan, Tierney, and Erskine serve as footmen. The Duke of Norfolk (mopping his brow), Charles James Fox, Lord Derby as a jockey, and the Duke of Bedford are among those who provide the horsepower. Gillray modeled his composition on Hogarth’s 1747 series Industry and Idleness, in which the industrious apprentice is honored by the Lord Mayor of London. Mainwaring won by the narrowest of margins, and not until 1807 was Burdett elected to Parliament from Westminster, a seat he held for thirty years.
On January 2, 1805, in a peace overture to George III, Napoleon questioned the need for war: “The world is sufficiently large for our two nations to live in it.” In this simple but telling design, Gillray shows the two great world powers, represented by Pitt and Napoleon, dividing up the globe: England claiming the oceans while France takes a generous helping of Europe. Napoleon’s conciliatory attitude had a hollow ring, given that at that same time he was encouraging the King of Spain to wage war on Great Britain (Spain declared war against England on December 12, and entered into an alliance with France on January 5). At the opening of Parliament in January, the King urged that the war be prosecuted “with vigour.”
In this brilliant confabulation, Gillray shows William Pitt responding to a speech by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, in which he attacked Pitt’s motion to overhaul the Army’s recruiting policy. According to his biographer, Pitt reportedly replied: “The Hon. gentleman seldom condescends to favour us with a display of his extraordinary powers of imagination and of fancy; but when he does, … like a bottle just uncorked, bursts all at once into an explosion of froth and air. All that his own fancy can suggest or that he has collected from others; all that he can utter in the ebullition of the moment; all that he has slept on and studied are combined and produced for our entertainment…. he collects in one mass, which he kindles into a blaze of eloquence; and out it comes altogether, whether or not it has any, even the smallest relation to the subject in debate.”
With a royal napkin draped over his arm, the waiter-vintner Pitt pulls the cork on the Sheridan bottle, which spews forth “invectives, stolen jests, lame puns, dramatic ravings, and fibs.” Other politicians in bottles, lined up (front row) from left to right, George Tierney, Fox, William Windham, and Charles Grey, corked by miniature bonnets rouges, await on the Opposition benches. Viscount Sidmouth (Addington) seems more dead than asleep, his bottle having spilt its contents on the ground. Sheridan was so amused by this satire, he is believed to have purchased six impressions of the print from Mrs. Humphrey.
Although the Battle of Trafalgar (October 21, 1805) ended British fears of invasion, Gillray portrays Napoleon as master of Europe, approaching the peak of his powers on the Continent, in the guise of a famous Mayfair street peddler, Tiddy-Dol Ford, who hawked gingerbread. The French victory at the Battle of Austerlitz the previous December had brought Bavaria, Württemberg, and Baden into the fold of satellite monarchies, and in this satire Gillray shows Napoleon, the baker, pulling their Electors out of the oven, now as freshly baked kings. At that same time he was preparing to replace existing crowned heads of Europe with his relatives and supporters, represented by the “True Corsican Kinglings” in his basket. His brother Joseph was made King of Naples, and later, when Joseph became King of Spain, he was succeeded by Napoleon’s brother-in-law, Murat. His sister Elisa became Princess of Piombino. His brother Louis was proclaimed King of Holland, and Napoleon took the title King of Italy for himself. The shattered “crumbs” of those conquered lands were swept into the ash heap under the oven, fueled by cannonballs. His foreign minister, Talleyrand, busies himself with Hungary, Poland, and Turkey, while the “Little Dough Viceroys” on the dresser (members of the Opposition, including Sheridan, Fox, Burdett, Moira, Tierney, and Lord Derby) await the Imperial Baker’s attention. This print was published on the day that William Pitt died.
The print closely follows this preparatory sketch, including the inscriptions, which Gillray laboriously drafted and reworked. The notes above the sketch suggest that he also contemplated making a print about the Royal Academy (“Blowing up of Royal Academy”), where he had studied, beginning in 1778. He also mentions his bête noire, the publisher John Boydell: “Boydell scattering proposals for print of Nelson.”
Throughout his life, Gillray was vehemently anti-Catholic, a prejudice shared by many of his contemporaries and, more importantly, by the King of England. So culturally entrenched was anti-Catholicism (associated by many with “political absolutism and persecution”) that not until 1829, when Catholic Emancipation became law, were Catholic men allowed to hold civil offices, to enter Parliament, and (if they met certain economic and social requirements) to vote. In 1805, Baron Grenville in the House of Lords and Fox in the Commons introduced an Irish Petition for Catholic Emancipation with the knowledge that it would not be accepted, given the King’s bias. The motion ultimately served only to discredit Pitt’s ministry.
In a mock-heroic burlesque of a passage from Milton’s Paradise
Lost, Gillray shows the Opposition, which supported emancipation, knocked
over by a mighty blast from Prime Minister William Pitt, Home Secretary
Lord Hawkesbury (Robert Jenkinson), and former Prime Minister Addington,
while the King, reduced to a pair of arms, lets loose lightning bolts
and fire from on high. Grenville in bishop’s robes, bearing the “Catholic
Petition,” is swept off his feet, along with his brother Buckingham
(always identifiable by his girth and his glasses). Fox, dressed as a
cardinal, is tossed from his seat on an Irish Bull, which wears a tricolor
ribbon with a medallion bearing a portrait of Napoleon. Mrs. Fitzherbert,
a Roman Catholic, who appears here as a mother abbess (a guise which
here also connotes a madam), is upended in the tumult. They will never
reach St. Peter, who stands beside a door opened to “Popish Supremacy.”