Important acquisitions

Excise a comical hieroglyphical epistle

Author [Anon]
Title Excise a comical hieroglyphical epistle
Imprint [London]: I. Williams
Date of Publication 1763
Language English
Notes This is an unusual satirical broadside attacking the unpopular Scottish prime minister John Stuart, third Earl of Bute (1713-1792). Engraved throughout, it takes the former of a rebus letter from 'Beelzebub' to the Earl of Bute. It is headed by representations of the Devil (Beelzebub) with a fork for a foot, and a portrait of Lord Bute, which, unusually, is not a caricature but is a faithful representation of Allan Ramsay's portrait of Bute. The letter suggests, through the liberal use of engraved symbolic illustrations, that following Bute's 'diabolic' conclusion of the peace with France in 1762 and the 'master stroke' of the cider tax, Bute should introduce taxes on other food and drink, "for why should the Vulgar (who are no more than Brutes in your Opinion) have anything to Eat above Grass without paying Tribute to their Superiors". The cider tax had actually been proposed by Bute's chancellor of the exchequer as a means of paying off the government's debts that it had accrued whilst waging the Seven Years War. Bute defended it in the House of Lords and it was passed on 1 April 1763. The tax was hugely unpopular, as it gave excise men the right to search private dwellings; riots broke out in the West Country and in the streets of London, where Lord Bute's windows were smashed. This broadside, dated "Pandemonium 1st April 1763", was part of the protest against Bute and his government. His opponents did not have long to wait to see Bute's downfall. Only 8 days after the bill was passed Bute had resigned from office, wearied by all the vicious attacks on him. The cider tax was eventually repealed in 1765, but Bute remained the target of satirists throughout the 1760s, being suspected of influencing the government behind the scenes.
Shelfmark AP.6.213.06
Reference Sources Bookseller's notes; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on 30/08/13
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