Tuesday, February 28, 2017

John Bull offering Little Boney Fair Play (1804)

John Bull offering Little Boney Fair Play. Published by H. Humphreys, London, 1804. British Museum.

Today's image is a political caricature featuring a jolly tar with the visage of Prince William Henry, Duke of Clarence - I featured another caricature of a sailor with the prince's visage in December in the 1795 engraving "A True British Tar". In today's engraving the sailor stands boldly in water representing the English channel, hands on his hips, while behind a wall a spindly Napoleon cries "I'm a com'ing", The bare-chested sailor cries "You're a'coming? You be d_n'd!"

Drawn up on shore in front of Boney's fortress are the fleet of small boats, representing Napoleon's threat of invading Great Britain.

The bulky sailor in the print wears striped petticoat trousers with a fall-front closure. The large handkerchief tied under his chin is red and yellow, and his round black hat, set at a jaunty angle with an odd upturned brim, has a "squashy" crown with a huge blue rosette.

1 comment:

  1. The title of this reminded me of something, but I couldn't place it until now! Namely it was an 1810 Old Bailey trial Matthew Brenckle referred me to, where a British seamen named John Jones was stabbed to death in a street fight with Portuguese seamen - just before being killed, he apparently shouted, "do not heave the stones at me, give me English play". (https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?id=t18100919-32&div=t18100919-32&terms=sailor) Seems like a neat contemporary reference to support this print's idea of 'fair' English fighting, going man to man in a way that spoke to contemporary ideas of British masculinity!