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Symbolism in James Gillray’s caricatures

This post is devoted to the caricature “New Morality” published in or around 1798 by James Gillray, a British caricaturist.

This is verbatim copy from:

“The Works of James Gillray, the Caricaturist: With the History of His Life”, edited by Thomas Wright , date unknown :

Before a rude altar stands the high-priest of the new faith. Justice,
Philanthropy, and Sensibility -after French models- are set up as
objects of worship. Justice appears as a fury, belted with Equality,
an assassin’s dagger in either hand; she is trampling on the emblematic
sword and scales. Philanthropy is embracing the whole world -that she
may devour it, she is treading down “Amor patriae” and “the ties of
nature.” Sensibility, holding Rousseau’s works in one hand, is weeping
over a dead bird, while her foot rests on the decapitated head of the
martyred Louis. The High-Priest, Stanhope, is mounted on a stool
preaching from the “Religion de la Nature.” Torches and newspaper
trumpets are borne by —

“Couriers and stars, sedition’s evening host,
Thou Morning Chronicle and Morning Post.”

The devotees of the new creed are pouring in offerings in harmony with
the doctrines of the Theophilanthropists. A huge “Cornucopia of
Ignorance,” supported by democratic imps, is discharging its
inflammatory contents. Southey, Coleridge, Lamb, &c., transformed into
asses and reptiles, are tendering odes and Republican verses. Earl
Moira is offering his sword and a motion -“Relief for Irish
Philanthropists.” Priestly (with his sermons) and Wakefield are
subscribing as representatives of the clergy. Paine, a weeping crocodile
in stays; Goodwin, Holcroft, and Williams (a serpent) are tending their
influence and voices for the occasion. The principal feature is the
homage of the great Leviathan -the Duke of Bedford. In his nose is the
hook with which “Burke brought the monster from his depths.” Thelwall,
soiled from recent peltings, is declaiming his lectures from the Duke’s
head; Fox is lending his voice’ Tierney is bringing addresses, and
Nicholls is reciting his speeches. Whitbread, the patriotic brewer,
represented as a barrel of his own “Entire”, is frothing from a perfect
“yeasty main”, in the suds of which swim the foremost Whigs as lesser
monsters in the Leviathan’s suite. Erskine is holding his “Causes of
the War;” the Duke of Norfolk is contributing “Whig Toasts and
Sentiments,” pledged in a foaming bumper; Sir Francis Burdett is holding
the “Glorious Acquittal of O’Connor;” Sir John Shuckborough appears
above the surface; Earl Derby is waving his cap; Byng is offering
“Coco’s Address to the Electors of Middlesex;” and Courtney is
displaying his “Stolen Jests on Religion.”

The Works of James Gillray, the Caricaturist:
With the History of His Life

edited by Thomas Wright

Written by meditationatae

December 24, 2015 at 11:50 am

Posted in History

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