Print, The Fishermen

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  • England
  • 1762
  • Black and White Etching
  • 1960-143

The lower margin reads: "To the courteous Readers of the MONITOR, BRITON, NORTH BRITON, & other political Quixotes,/ This Print is humbly inscrib'd./ Price 6.d"

Four famous authors are fishing in the "Waters of Sedition" outside a country inn. Near each man is an inscribed bag with "bait" with which he hopes to catch public support for his own particular cause.

To the rear is Arthur Murphy, a contributor to the pro-government publication "The Auditor". He claims he will be paid for labor no matter what he does and uses William Pitt's recent pension and affairs surrounding the West Indian trade bill as bait.

The most prominent of the authors would seem to be Tobias Smollett, dressed as a Scot. He suggests to Murphy that fishing on the backside of such a pool may not prove to be profitable. His bait consists of "Continental Connections" and "Prussian Subsidy," which were subjects of great controversy.

A Murphy opponent, Charles Churchill, with his satiric poem "the Rosciad" protruding from a pocket, swears that he will give up his profession of preaching and devote all of his time to devising means to obstruct and oppose the present government.

London lawyer Arthur Beardmore, leaning against a barrel, declares that he finds great pleasure in fishing in troubled waters and uses his bait "The Monitor", a conservative paper, "Newfoundland," a colony just lost by the British (but soon to be recaptured), and "Court Bruhl," a strongly disliked minister of state.

To the rear center Bute does not actually appear but is suggested by the inn, The Scotch House. Born in Scotland and seen as an intruder in the eyes of most Englishmen, Bute rose rapidly in the ministry. He became the object of hostility and distrust. Word was spread that he intended to enforce censorship on the press. By placing outside his door the fishermen writers, all of the varying political views, and with the threat of defection by at least one government supporter, the designer suggests that seditious action may be desirable in order to unseat the powerful Bute.

Above the men is an inscription starting out "Veluti in Speculo" which describes the happenings. A tavern "entertainment for Mon and Beast" is shown on the left of the print.

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