London: J. Williams next the Mitre Tavern, Fleet Street, nd [ca.1762]. First edition. Engraved cartoon and two columns of verse, printed on laid paper, 12 1/4 x 8 1/4 inches [plate mark: 11 7/8 x 7 15/16 inches]; the illustration, 5 1/4 x 7 1/2 inches, occupies the top third of the page, signed in type below "J. Jones, delin et sculpt." The print pictures an ass (striped like a zebra) which has just kicked a portly man down, causing him to drop a leaflet on which is printed the title "The Queen's Ass. A Song by H. Howard." Another man is shown with his feet in the stocks, another in Scottish tartan sits astride a lion, a man of the cloth gazes into a mirror which reflects back the image of an ass, etc., all the action being viewed by three Cherokee Indians, recently arrived in London. The poem commences "Permit me good People (a Whimsical Bard) / And Snarl not ye Critical Class / If once I presume without fee or Reward / to prove that each Briton's an Ass." OCLC locates 7 copies (British Library, Oxford, Morgan, Yale, Huntington, Princeton [giving 1766 as the publication date], Jewish Theological Seminary of America); Library of Congress and Colonial Williamsburg also hold copies. Nice impression of this rare print, a satirical commentary on the Revolutionary Era. (9849). Item #62767
The satirical cartoon and verse represent the political climate in Britain near the end of the Seven Years War: "[Prime Minister] Lord Bute is mounted on the back of the saddled, bitted, and bridled British Lion, who, as it is insinuated, is an ass to allow this indignity. A Jew sits in the stocks. The Rev. G. Whitefield sees his countenance reflected as the face of an ass by the mirror he holds ...." (F.G. Stephens "Catalogue of political and personal satires preserved in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum," v. 4, no. 3941). Other figures in the illustration include a group of three Cherokee Indian chiefs who had arrived in London in June 1762; a blind Sir John Fielding using a telescope, and considered an ass "for continuing to assert that he can tell right from wrong"; Henry Howard, author of the poem "The Queen's Ass"; and Rev. Charles Churchill, a preacher and well-known satirist, chasing away two literary figures, Tobias Smollett (editor of "The Briton"), and Arthur Murphy (who represented "The Auditor"), all defenders of Lord Bute [cf. Joan Dolmetsch, "Rebellion and Reconciliation: Satirical Prints on the Revolution at Williamsburg," Colonial Williamsburg, 1976, p.30].
From May 1762 to April 1763, Lord Bute, a Scotsman, served as Prime Minister to King George III. He helped conclude the Treaty of Paris which ended the Seven Years War, and levied taxes on the American colonies to support the British military presence there, an act which would lead to the American Revolution. Cataloguing by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America for its OCLC entry, quotes the quatrain in the verse: "Old Shylock the Jew who in Change Alley strives / The Wealth of the land to Amass / While into your Pocketts he openly Dives / Of Each Bull & Bear makes an Ass." The three Cherokee chiefs traveled to England to meet the King following a truce of sorts in their battles with the British on the frontier toward the end of the French and Indian War, accompanied by the Tennessee explorer Henry Timberlake, whose memoirs, including a description of the trip, were published in 1765 as "an important source on the Cherokee nation and on the little-known southern phase of the French and Indian War" (Howes T-271). Nothing much came of the trip, however, and a second, in 1764, hoping for a decree from the king to forbid settlement west of the Appalachians, was even less successful, leading to more all-out war in the area during the Revolution.