The Juggernaut Debt

In 1832, The Ballot published a series of “Sketches in Church and State”. The proofs for the anonymous wood-engravings can be found among the satirical prints that the British Museum purchased from the estate of Douce’s friend Edward Hawkins. As it is often the case with Hawkins’s satires, Douce’s smaller but very similar collection of satirical prints included a set of the same images. They were later reprinted as a single sheet from which he cut them, together with the heading and with the publication details at the bottom of the page:

Two prints seem to be missing from Hawkins’s set of proofs -the first is this Juggernaut Debt, which (according to M.D. George) depicts the national debt as ‘ a double gun-carriage on which is coiled a scaly monster with barbed tail and three heads on serpentine necks’ belonging to a bishop, a soldier in a cocked hat, and the Duke of Newcastle. The car is driven by a judge and its wheels crush the taxpayers, shown as prostrate victims:

Anonymous, The Juggernaut Debt, 1832, wood engraving (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)

The illustration below was not part of Hawkins’s set either. It depicts poor John Bull almost dragged down into the sea by the weight of the repayments of the national debt. He is barely kept afloat by the beneficiaries of his efforts, who hold him hanging from a pitch-fork from the safety of their boat:

Anonymous, The sinking fund, 1832, wood-engraving (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)

I have often referred to Douce as a compulsive annotator -on the print below, from the same series, he wrote ‘Xt and crown of thorns’ next to the mask held by the bishop, possibly to indicate that the image should be filed with his many depictions of the face of Christ:

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