Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A New Way to Pay the National-Debt, 1786

A new way to pay the National-Debt, James Gillray, 1786, British Museum.

King George III, accompanied by Queen Charlotte, smiles broadly as money pours from his breeches. He is heralded by musicians who are likewise festooned with gold guineas, and a gentleman who offers a fat sack of cash. This is juxtaposed against a quadriplegic sailor who sits with his empty round hat between wooden legs.

Unlike virtually every other sailor featured on this blog, this poor tarpaulin wears a beard. Beards were generally frowned upon in the eighteenth century, with the English in particular being opposed to any facial hair. The fact that this destitute man sports a full white beard is a testament to his helplessness.

The sailors wears a yellow and red plaid neckcloth over his double breasted blue jacket, which ends at his waist and sits over the plain pair of slops/petticoat trousers that cover his thighs. Blue breeches run down to his wooden legs.

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