Monday, March 10, 2014

Myneer Nic Frogs Lamentation, or Dutch Milk a fine Relish to English Sailors, 1781

Myneer Nic Frog's Lamentation, or Dutch Milk a fine Relish to English Sailors, W. Wells, 1781, National Maritime Museum.

The Dutch and the British, each personified, face off over a cow's milk. I'm having a lot of trouble understanding what precisely is going on here, but the British sailor is clearly making away with the milk while ships in the background trade broadsides. This cartoon is wonderfully colorful and detailed, and gives us a lot to talk about. 

The tar wears a black round hat with a wide brim that is just barely turned up on each side. His neckcloth is yellow with red stripes. Our sailor's white lined blue jacket ends at the top of the thigh, is double breasted with slash cuffs, and no pockets. His waistcoat is red and triple breasted with brass buttons. The broad fall fly of his slops are wonderfully detailed, and the slops themselves are striped with red vertical stripes! This is very unusual indeed. Beneath this is a pair of white stockings, and pointed toe shoes with rectangular buckles. 


  1. The cartoon is a reflection of the tensions between Holland and England in the beginning of 1781 (when England declared war on Holland because of the trading that Holland was doing with both the French and the Americans).

    Nic Frog is a slang term for Holland. The Manifesto referred to by the sailor is actually the manifesto made by England against the Dutch for their trading practices.

    The reference to the cow is actually a reference to earlier political cartoons which had represented English trade as a cow being cut off because of the alliance. See for example this earlier French cartoon.

    I've got no idea who the Mynheer Bushle A-se is supposed to refer to unless it's just the convention of the times blocking out the r and it's a reference to the Dutch as Mister Bushel Arse?

    1. Wow, thanks! This really clears up a piece that was nearly incomprehensible to me.

      I think your last point is probably right. It seems like precisely the sort of ribald insult that would be slung at the personification of a foreign power.