"The Irish stubble alia(s) bubble goose"

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"The Irish stubble alia(s) bubble goose"
etching & engraving
plate mark: 255 x 322 mm; sheet: 277 x 383 mm
Peel 2450
Formerly owned by Sir Robert Peel.

Satire on the use of Irish revenues to pay pensions to supporters of the English government. Samuel Johnson, at the top of the print, and Charles Churchill, at the bottom, open a curtain to reveal corruption: a blind-folded goose (Ireland) is being plucked by Lord Bute and Henry Fox to pay pensions amounting to £74,000 to 217 people. Almost every feather has gone, including one behind Johnson's ear labelled "300 pr. ann." referring to the annual payment that he began to receive from midsummer 1762; swags of the curtain on either side of his head refer to the delayed delivery of his edition of Shakespeare "to be Publish'd Anno. 1864" and quote from his Dictionary definition of a pensioner as "A Slave of State hired by a Stipend to Obey his Master" and from his poem 'London', "Here let those reign whom Pensions can Incite / To vote a Patriot black a Courtier white ...". Churchill, below, holds a club lettered, "Truth" and verses from his poem "The Author" are quoted on swags on either side, "Is this - O Death to think, is this the Land / Where Merit and Reward went hand in hand ..." The goose, his legs bound and a '74,000 Pounds' weight on which is shown the harp of Ireland hanging from his neck, excretes on the fox-tail of Henry Fox as he and Bute pull the last feathers from her wings; implements of the Irish linen and woollen trades lie on the ground with a book lettered, "State of the Manufactures in Irel[a]nd". Hugh Smithson, Earl of Northumberland, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from 22 September 1763 to 15 May 1764, stands at the head of the goose removing her blindfold in order to "make her see"; he has dropped a scroll listing "Pensioners on the Irish Establishment / Jemmy Twitcher [the Earl of Sandwich] / Bruins Secretary / Joint Treasurer / The peace Making Sardinian [Count de Viry] ..." amounting to £926.17s.6d.". Lord Bute, in Scottish dress stands behind the goose, reaching out to hold the blindfold in place and warning Fox, "I fear yon false loon will open her Eyes he's not of the true Northumberland breed". Fox reassures him that the Irish House of Commons would be "da[m]nd for a Pension"; he is already prepared with four feathers in his pocket "for the Majority". A Dutchman standing behind Fox on the left pulls one of these feathers with a pair of tongs, complaining that he cannot "Pick his Pocekt ... de Fox is too Cunning". Next to him a Frenchman (the Duc de Nivernois) saying "De English get de feders I will get de goose" holds a scroll lettered, "The Royal Game of the Goose / de English be Geese for making de Peace". Next is the Count de Viry with a feather in his hat lettered, "1000 pr Annum 31 Years" who asks "Monsieur" to give him a second feather. A Spaniard thanks Bute for his favours. In the background on the right is a crowd of English pensioners with feathers on their heads including Anna Maria Falkner saying, that she is going "into Halifax to return thanks for my Pension" (she was mistress of Lord Halifax, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, 1761-63, from the mid 1750s until his death in 1771). Cf. British Museum online catalog.