Britannia Scourged By Pitt

There I was, minding my own business, when I came across this crudely-drawn political caricature featuring a two-fisted and rather vigorous pillory whipping scene. The context where I found it was suggestive of a frontispiece illustration, but did not identify the book:

Britannia scourged by Pitt crude etching or woodcut illustration

The “Britannia scourged by Pitt” caption was sufficiently encouraging that I decided to Google up a bit of context. I get in more trouble that way!

Britannia scourged explanatory text

OK, this is progress, but to a person like me who is wholly ignorant of British political history, it doesn’t explain very much. What I’ve got here is a very similar illustration, with shorter caption, in an 1876 book by Thomas Wright. Said book labors under the lengthy title of “Caricature History of the Georges, Or, Annals of the House of Hanover: Compiled from Squibs, Broadsides, Window Pictures, Lampoons and Pictorial Caricatures of the Time”, which identifies the image as a detail from “an elaborate caricature by Gillray” of August 7, 1804, commemorating the triumph of Sir Francis Burdett in an election:

The scene is laid in the neighbourhood of the hustings, to which Burdett is carried in triumph in his barouche, with Horne Tooke, his pocket full of speeches, as driver. Behind stand Sheridan, Tierney, and Erskine, carrying flags and banners. The banner held up by Sheridan bears the representation of Britannia fixed in the pillory, and scourged by Pitt, in allusion to the punishment of political offenders in the prison of Coldbath Fields, the key of which is carried by Tierney, while Erskine hoists the standard of the “good old cause.”

OK. Well, that’s more than I wanted to know, really. Or…is it really? I mean, this crude illustration, perhaps a tracing for an etching, or a not-very-well-wrought woodcut done hastily for the presses of some pamphleteer, doesn’t seem to accord with the elaborate art style I’ve seen in those dense 19th-century caricatures. Do you suppose it would be worth hunting down the original, to see how the scene appears there?

I do so suppose. It is in my nature that I must so suppose. I am like a dog with a bone on these things. And a good thing too, because in this case, the original artwork is rather more lewd and lurid than the illustration that got me started:

Britannia scourged entire caricature

Hey, camera person, can we zoom in on the whipping banner, please? Thank you!

lurid detail of Britannia being double whipped in a pillory

Oh, my, nipples! Somehow those important details didn’t survive the 19th-century reproduction process. My research diligence is rewarded!

On the other hand, I could have done without ever seeing that sketch of an occupied gibbet in the background of the scene. Perhaps diligence in research is a two-edged sword?

See Also:

  1. 1804 Pillory Whipping - Bondage Blog commented on September 2nd, 2021:

    […] This lurid and colorful pillory whipping scene is a detail from a mostly-incomprehensible political caricature dating to 1804. Spanking Blog has the details: […]

  2. Fr. commented on September 3rd, 2021:

    An interesting journey, thank you.

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