The Republican rattle-snake fascinating the Bedford-squirrel

James Gillray
The Republican rattle-snake fascinating the Bedford-squirrel
[London] : Pubd Novr 16th 1795 by H Humphrey, New Bond St, [1795]
Bequest of Gordon N. Ray, 1987.
[London] : Pubd. Novr. 16th 1795 by H. Humphrey, New Bond St., [1795]
From the library of Gordon N. Ray.

Below caption title: The Rattle Snake is a Creature of the greatest subtilty; when it is desirous of preying upon any Animal which is in a situation above itself, it fixes its Eye upon the unsuspecting object, & by the noise of its Rattle, fascinates & confounds the unfortunate Victim, till loosing all Sense & discernment, it falls a prey into the Mouth of the horrid Monster. Pliny's Nat. Histy, Vol 365.
Exhibition label: In this print, the leader of the Whig Opposition party, Charles James Fox (1749-1806), lures his prominent and devoted political ally Francis Russell, Duke of Bedford (1765-1802), to his ruin. The attribution of Gillray's caption to Pliny the Elder is fictitious; rattlesnakes are native exclusively to the New World. This fact was probably not lost on many members of Gillray's audience, who were accustomed to seeing the snake as a symbol of the American colonies. -- On view at the Morgan Library & Museum, Fall 2019.


Print shows a large rattlesnake with the head of Fox, its tail coiled round an oak tree with rattle erect, rearing itself towards a squirrel with the head of the Duke of Bedford, which is springing from the tree into Fox's open mouth.

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