The Age of George III

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Popular indignation - or - John Bull in a Rage

This image was sent to me by Bill Webber. My thanks to him

Popular indignation - or - John Bull in a Rage

For a larger view, see here

This cartoon was produced by William and Warren Lee on 26 April 1805. It was published by SW Fores of 50 Piccadilly, London.

In 1805-6 Lord Melville, then first lord of the Admiralty, was accused of negligence and embezzlement in the management of the Navy and impeached. He obtained a deserved acquittal. Still, some of the most respected members of the House of Commons, among others Wilberforce, voted for the impeachment. They must have held, not without good reason, that one of England's leading statesmen, who was a man specially trusted by Pitt, had, by his conduct when holding high office, laid himself open to grave suspicion of high crimes and misdemeanours which, if proved, would have covered him with disgrace.

The character in the top left hand corner is the Prime Minister, William Pitt the Younger; the character below him in the tartan is Henry Dundas, Viscount Melville. John Bull stands in the middle in the blue coat. The character carrying the bag of gold labelled "Navy Office" is Alexander Trotter, paymaster of the Navy.

Pitt seems to have wings, but a pair of "Constitutional Sheers" is chopping in to one of them. Pitt is saying, "The Powers above have stopt my flight, so help is not in me poor Hal". Lord Melville (Henry Dundas - Hal) is saying "Wha [who] wants me?" and the devils are shouting "We". John Bull, brandishing a big stick, is saying "Fly, wretch and hide thyself in the only Pitt that is open to receive thee." On the right, Alexander Trotter is trying to escape with money which had been diverted from the Navy Office, saying, "Curse this Dog; he will have it all away from me again. I shan't be able to keep it now", and the British Bulldog has torn the bottom out of the sack of ill-gotten gains.

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Last modified 12 January, 2016

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