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The Battle of Whigs, or, The Meal-Tub Plot discovered (BM J,4.40)


The Battle of Whigs, or, The Meal-Tub Plot discovered (BM J,4.40)



Fox and Burke, both stripped to the waist, face each other with clenched fists. Their backers are behind them. Fox (left), short and very stout, looks up at Burke, weeping copiously and saying, "I am struck all of heap and could cry my Eyes out at seeing my old Friend and dear Master so much out of Order!!!" Burke (right), very tall and thin, threatens Fox with a downward thrust of his right arm, his left hand is behind his back, covertly receiving a fish (cf. BMSat 6915) which Pitt places in it. His wig is under his foot, and his whole person, including his bald head, is dotted with 'fleurs-de-lis'. On his posteriors is a crown and the words 'Old Constitution', satirizing his attitude to the French Monarchy (cf. BMSat 7675, &c). Above his head is a large crescent moon inscribed 'Consistency' (cf. BMSat 7689). He says, "A Plot! A horrid Plot! a Faction of Black Spirits and White; Blue Spirits and Grey, Mingle; Mingle, Mingle, Devils that Mingle may with enormous appetites [be] prepared to devour the very Victuals of the Constitution - but dont be frightened - I'll repel the infernals - for in such a glorious cause I dare fight them all with one hand the other tied behind". Behind Fox is Sheridan bottle-holder, holding an enormous wine-bottle inscribed 'French Spirits'; his expression and attitude are those of a conspirator. Beside him stands Grey, young, slim, and intent, holding on a staff the cap of Liberty inscribed 'New Constitution' and decorated with fleurs-de-lis. Above them looks down the irradiated profile of (?) Portland.
Pitt, even thinner than Burke, with his hair standing on end, is Burke's backer, holding out a fish and a loaf. He says: "I am not surprised! nor alarmed! no not I - and if there's any thing in what you say - though you have heretofore hurled on me the most violent abuse, I'll Support you". Behind Pitt is a large cask inscribed 'Meal Tub', filled with loaves and fishes. Against the cask, and on the extreme right, stand Dundas and Rose, their hands raised in horror, and their hair on end. Dundas says, "Oh! Saint Andrew! what a Plot! in gude troth ye may e'en gang back for the de'el a bit wull ye get, for we ave hungrey Guts enough of our own, and so ye may tell the Deevil that wou'd lend a hand to turn wholesome English bread into French". Rose, a pen behind his ear to denote his Secretaryship of the Treasury, says, "Oh! dear what a frightful Plot!!! Oh! dear what an envious World we live in - what a wicked greedy Plot to put us out of Bread!!!" 7 May 1791






British Museum

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satirical print
satirical print