Edinburgh: John Miller, 1818. Etching. Image measures 12.5 x 9.75". Sheet measures 16.5 x 12"
After nearly nursing the life out of the personification of England John Bull' sow in an earlier caricature entitled "More Pigs than Teats," the politicians in Grenville's Government are again portrayed as piglets in this print by James Gillray. William Wyndham, Lord Grenville, came into as the new prime minister after the early death of the then Prime Minister, William Pitt the Younger, in 1806. Grenville's ministry was also known as the "Ministry of all Talents" and as "the Broadbottoms" because of their varied political affiliations. The term "broadbottom" of course also serves as a double entendre for the rotund posteriors of the ministers. After the temporary peace agreement with Napoleon failed in 1805, Britain was pressed to find additional means to increase enlistment numbers, particularly after Napoleon's victories at Austerlitz (1805) and Jena (1806). One possibility considered by Grenville and his cronies was to encourage British Catholics to enlist by lessening the restrictions on the rights of Catholics. These restrictions on landownership and voting rights had been placed on British Catholics after the Glorious Revolution of 1688-9 when the Catholic King James II was forced to abdicate in a relatively bloodless revolution led by a Protestant House of Commons. For more than a century after, many British Protestants remained wary of any possibilities of the Catholic Church's return to power in Britain. As the Grenville ministry attempted to pass Catholic Emancipation, they gained the animosity of a proudly Protestant George III. Here, George III is depicted as "Farmer George" for his love of farming and agriculture, and drives the parasitic piglets into the sea. Along with the ministry, the viewer is also able to see the scraps of Catholic relief bills as well as a rosary. This edition of Gillray's etching was published by John Miller in a 9-part volume of the artist's caricatures. The print is in very good condition with some wear and tear to the margins, not affecting the image. A pencil inscription below the image border names the date of April 18, 1807, when the image was originally published. James Gillray (1756-1816) was a British caricaturist and printmaker who used impressive manipulation of the human form to create some of the most biting satire of the period. With subjects ranging from ladies' fashion to the Napoleonic Wars, Gillray's ridicule of leaders such as Napoleon all the way to George III were rarely rivaled in their sardonic humor or their originality. Thus, the print appears as exemplary of the work for which Gillray is famous.