With lantern jaws and croaking gut,
See how the half-star’d Frenchmen strut,
And call us English dogs:
But soon we’ll teach these bragging foes
That beef and beer give heavier blows
Than soup and roasted frogs.
The priests, inflam’d with righteous hopes,
Prepare their axes, wheels, and ropes,
To bend the stiff-neck’d sinner;
But should they sink in coming over,
Old Nick may fish ‘twixt France and Dover,
And catch a glorious dinner.
The scenes of all Mr. Hogarth’s prints, except The Gate of Calais, and that now under consideration, are laid in England. In this, having quitted his own country, he seems to think himself out of the reach of the critics, and, in delineating a Frenchman, at liberty to depart from nature, and sport in the fairy regions of caricature. Were these Gallic soldiers naked, each of them would appear like a forked radish, with a head fantastically carved upon it with a knife: so forlorn! that to any thick sight he would be invisible. To see this miserable woe-begone refuse of the army, who look like a group detached from the main body and put on the sick list, embarking to conquer a neighbouring kingdom, is ridiculous enough, and at the time of publication must have had great effect. The artist seemed sensible that it was necessary to account for the unsubstantial appearance of these shadows of men, and has hinted at their want of solid food, in the bare bones of beef hung up in the window, the inscription on the alehouse sign, ”Soup maigre au Sabot Royal,” and the spider-like officer roasting four frogs which he has impaled upon his sword. Such light and airy diet is whimsically opposed by the motto on the standard, which two of the most valorous of this ghastly troop are hailing with grim delight and loud exultation. It is, indeed, an attractive motto, and well calculated to inspire this famishing company with courage:—”Vengeance, avec la bonne Bière, et bon bœuf d’Angleterre.“ However meagre the military, the church militant is in no danger of starving. The portly friar is neither emaciated by fasting nor weakened by penance. Anticipating the glory of extirpating heresy, he is feeling the sharp edge of an axe, to be employed in the decollation of the enemies to the true faith. A sledge is laden with whips, wheels, ropes, chains, gibbets, and other inquisitorial engines of torture, which are admirably calculated for the propagation of a religion that was established in meekness and mercy, and inculcates universal charity and forbearance. On the same sledge is an image of St. Anthony, accompanied by his pig, and the plan of a monastery to be built at Black Friars.
In the back-ground are a troop of soldiers so averse to this English expedition, that their serjeant is obliged to goad them forward with his halberd. To intimate that agriculture suffers by the invasion having engaged the masculine inhabitants, two women, ploughing a sterile promontory in the distance, complete this catalogue of wretchedness, misery, and famine.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:55