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The Sea of Politics, the Prince of Whales or the Fisherman at Anchor

Major collection: Hart Nautical
Named collection: Allan Forbes Collection
Object type: etching
Maker: Cruikshank, G.; Jones, M.
Place made: United Kingdom
Date made: 1812
Materials: ink; paper; pigment
Measurements: 8 1/2 in x 21 in
Nomenclature: cartoons
Classification: whales

Hand-colored etching satirical cartoon from the 'Scourge', iii. 345 commenting on the Prince Regent's rejection of the Whig Party. He went against expectations by keeping the Tory government in power rather than giving power to his old Whig friends. Cruikshank was inspired by Charles Lamb's satirical poem about the prince, The Triumph of the Whale published in the radical journal The Examiner on 15 March 1812. Portrayed as a whale in 'the Sea of Politics,' the Prince Regent spouts water from each nostril. The more compact stream spouting backwards is inscribed 'The Liquor of Oblivion'; it hits a turtle with the head of William Grenville and a little grey dog with the head of Charles Grey which scurries off to the left. Behind Grey, a large monster with the head of Whig supporter and playwright Richard Sheridan, trudges towards the Regent. Sections of the turtle's underside is inscribed 'Sinecure 30,000', '5000', '1000.' The other stream, inscribed 'Dew of Favor', curves to the right, descending on Spencer Perceval the Tory Prime Minister and two companions in a small boat. Perceval, wearing his Chancellor of the Exchequer's gown, stands holding in his right hand a heavy chain attached to an anchor. One barbed fluke of the anchor is hooked into the lips of the Prince; its stock is inscribed 'Delicate Enquiry', in his left hand is the end of a fishnet hanging from the side of the boat, and containing two fish, one inscribed 'Sinecure', the other 'Arch Bishopric'. Temple, with a porpoise-like body puts out his hands to catch the former, while the latter attracts a big oyster on the shore with the human face of Mansel, Bishop of Bristol) showing between its valves. In front of the net lies a large seal with the head of Eldon. In Perceval's boat are two large baskets of fish inscribed 'Gudgeons' and 'Flat Fish'; Sidmouth's head emerges from the former, that of Lord Melville wearing a tam-o'-shanter from the other. The boat is partly ashore where two rats, one with the head and turban of Wellesley, the other with the head of Canning, are gnawing holes in the boat of which Perceval, smiling complacently, is unaware. Melville, watching them, exclaims "We shall all be dish'd." Outside the boat a shark with the head of Castlereagh leaps from the water to catch some of the 'Dew', inscribed 'Salery [sic] reappointment.' In the center foreground a large-busted mermaid (Lady Hertford) plays a lyre looking alluringly at the Prince, who turns his eyes towards her. Beside her a merman (Hertford's husband?) rises from the water, angrily holding coral above his head. In front of the whale, the head and shoulders of Mrs. Fitzherbert (the Prince's former mistress) emerge; she holds up a mirror and looks up at the Prince who ignores her. A swordfish with the head of McMahon pierces the side of the whale causing coins to fall from the wound; a fin is inscribed 'Privy Purse.' The windows of the Carlton House form the background.