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  • Attributed to: James Gillray
  • London, England
  • May 10, 1782
  • Black and white etching with period hand color
  • 1960-102

The lower margin reads: "BRITANIA'S ASSASSINATION./ or ___The Republicans Amusement./ Pub.d May 1782, by E. D'Archery S.t James Street"

This satire, attributed to James Gillary, is one of the boldest post-Revolutionary attacks leveled against the new ministry. The blame for Britain's continued decline is squarely placed on the government, and the ministers are compared to foreign enemies. In previous prints, Britannia, in various allegorical guises, has been depicted undergoing dismemberment. Here she is again under attack. A fox (Charles Fox) bites her remaining leg as Wilkes prepares to strike her with a document inscribed "Libel" and the duke of Richmond attacks with a musket. Now a government leader, Keppel, who was court-martialed and acquitted for inaction at the battle of Ushant in 1778, pulls down the British flag saying:

"He that Fights & runs away, May live to fight another day."

Although the war had been over for several months when the satire was made, a peace treaty has not been concluded and foreign countries were still being blamed for England's defeat. An American Indian, holding Britannia's head in one hand and her arm with an olive branch in the other, runs away pursued by France, who hoped to forestall a separate peace agreement. Spain carries off Britannia's leg, Holland her shield.

The only defenders of the government are Edward Thurlow and Lord Mansfield, who have attached a rope to the statue and attempt to support it. In earlier works Mansfield, as a member of the former ministry, has often come under attack. Now he is depicted as one of the few remaining protectors of Britannia's rights.

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