The Nursery; —with, Britannia reposing in Peace

Description: 

Dressed as nursemaids with patriotic ribbons, Prime Minister Henry Addington, Lord Hawkesbury, and Charles Fox gather around Britannia as an oversized baby squeezed into a crib, the top of which reads “Requiescat in Peace.” In the crib, Britannia sucks her thumb and rests her head on her arm, her shield and scepter lying on her blanket. Hawskesbury holds a baby chair inscribed “French Cooking Chair,” Fox dries “French cambries” over the fire, and Addington sings a lullaby: “O by My Baby, my Baby, / o By in Peace! My dearee! / For such a sweet Nap as Thus / You never had far nor nearee! / so By my Baby my dearee.” A picture of Napoleon Bonaparte doing a jig while playing the violin hangs above the mantle; a tattered sheet entitled “Rule Britannia” hangs off to the side. On the mantle sit a bottle of opiate pills and a composing draught.

Accession Number: 

802.12.4.2

Printing Context: 

The Nursery; —with, Britannia reposing in Peace appeared in Hannah Humphrey’s 27 St. James’ Street print shop window for viewing or sale on December 4, 1802.

Associated Events: 

The Peace of Amiens, part of the recently instated Addington government, sought to secure peace with France in early 1802, for largely economic reasons: war was deemed unaffordable. At first, the measure received widespread support from within the government. During the yearlong interlude, Addington focused on rebuilding the institutions of national defense and building an alliance with Russia, a potentially effective ally against the French. The Peace was not expected to be a lasting one; even so, the measure was used to critique more broadly Addington and his ministers’ ineffectuality, for example, Addington’s poor debate skills (J.E. Cookson, Oxford DNB).

Associated People: 

Addington, Henry 1757–1844


Addington was born on May 30, 1757 to physician Anthony Addington (1713-1790) and his wife Mary (d. 1778). The family, minor gentry in Oxfordshire, moved o London in 1754, where the Addington's father found lucrative work and ensured him a quality formal education. Addington began his legal studies in London in 1780 and married Ursula Mary (1760-1811) in 1781. The couple had six children.


In the general election of April 1784 Addington was secured as seat of Devizes, a corporation bureau, and he remained in this seat until accepting a peerage in 1805. In the House of Commons, Addington spoke rarely until his election as speaker in 1789, secured thanks to the Pitt majority. As speaker, Addington restored prestige to the office. He also initiated the collection of portraits in the Speaker’s House. Especially during his time as speaker, Addington maintained a close relationship with Pitt despite disparate personalities and social ranks. Upon his resignation in 1801, Pitt believed in Addington’s capabilities as successor, and George III hoped he would counterbalance Pitt’s advocacy for Catholic emancipation. Unfortunately, five of Pitt’s cabinet resigned with him, and Addington was put to defend the potential of his own government, which was eventually founded on the delaying of Catholic emancipation, aggression against Jacobinism, and peace as a means to mend the economy. The peace policy announced in March 1801 was a priority for Addington, who believed war was unaffordable. It extended not only to continental Western Europe but also Russia, a potentially strong ally against France. During the interlude of peace, Addington sought to reorganize and refurbish British defense. As prime minister, Addington had a cordial relationship with George III. He followed Pitt’s financial principles to the approval of government and society.


Despite the achievements Addington made in the defense, finance, and foreign affair sectors, Pitt was still actively involved in important decisions. At this time, negotiations with France were breaking down, and Pitt denied public support for Addington; this was a significant blow to the confidence of and in the government. War was taken up once again in May 1803, signaling the public failure of the Addington-Hawkesbury (who was minister of foreign affairs) team, although they continued to develop ties with Russia, which later helped eventuate the Third Coalition. However, lacking confidence in Addington and Hawkesbury, the government increasingly looked to Pitt for decisiveness; Addington only further weakened his reputation by often conceding to Pitt’s tactics and proposals. He and his own cabinet, however, remained loyal aerhaps too much so, to each other. He governed equally through personal loyalty and through political tactics, which was not effective in times of national crises. Finally, in late 1804 Pitt took the office for the second time. Addington secured his continued influence by casting the overture as a reconciliation. Upon Pitt’s instructions, he was secured a seat in the House of Lords and made Viscount of Sidmouth in January 1805. At first, his position in the opposition went smoothly, but in the crisis over Catholics’ rank in the military, his refusal to manipulate the king’s judgment of the situation led to his resignation. The crisis was exacerbated by the rising position of George Canning, whom Addington believed responsible for his and Pitt's estrangement. Thus, in March 1807 Sidmouth retired from office until his reinstatement to the Home Office in 1812. During this time, the growing power of the Whig party brought Addington’s general political principles, based on his pious Anglicanism, dedication to capitalism, and royalism, into sharp contrast. Though officially retired in 1822, Sidmouth remained in the cabinet without a portfolio in Liverpool at the behest of George IV. However, his discomfort in an increasingly Canning-dominated cabinet led to his final departure in 1824. Sidmouth spent his remaining years at Richmond with his new wife, Mary Anne. She died two years before him in 1842. Sidmouth died on February 15, 1844 in Richmond Park, and was buried at Mortlake (J.E. Cookson, Oxford DNB).


Fox, Charles James 1749-1806


Charles Fox was born on January 24, 1749 in London. His father, Henry Fox was a politician. He enjoyed close familial relationships and received little discipline, which may have contributed to his failure to impose authority as a politician later in life. His political career was marked by his defense of his father’s reputation. He attended Eton and Oxford, and fell into gambling after a foreign introduction via the Paris elite in 1763. Public attention was always keen to the scandals of his private life, especially his renown for gambling and the debt it incurred. His affairs also received substantial attention, but his marriage to Elizabeth Bridget Armistead in 1784 curtailed his romantic pursuits.


Fox was elected to parliament at only nineteen-years-old, and quickly made well-known his powerful orating skills and his capricious attitude toward political offices, from which he resigned multiple times. He was deeply connected to the American Revolution, and the political crises of 1782-1784 further disillusioned him with George III, whom he referred to as “Satan.” Fox’s political loyalties did not depend on nationality, rather on the representative principle. His early experiences in France fomented his cosmopolitanism and his appreciation for Britain’s most hated enemy. Upon being informed of the fall of the Bastille, Fox famously said: ‘How much the greatest event it is that ever happened in the world, & how much the best.’ Napoleon’s rise to power did not alter his principles. He supported Addington only because Addington supported peace with France, and he capitalized on the peace in 1802 to make an extended and public visit to Paris, where he met with Napoleon three times. When peace ended in 1803, he immediately abandoned Addington’s government. In 1804, he allied with the Grenville party (to which he was also once opposed) as he saw their increasing anathematization of George III on issues important to himself, such as the abolition of the slave trade (the later achievement of which he was the major contributor). Their alliance helped create the "ministry of all the talents." On matters of reform that were less personal, his stances were more ambiguous. He was dedicated to religious tolerance as a natural right to man. Throughout his last term in office Fox was ill with the disease that would eventually kill him in 1806. (L.G. Mitchell, Oxford DNB).




Jenkinson, Charles, Lord Hawkesbury 1729-1808


Charles Jenkinson was born at Winchester to an army officer and his wife, Charles Jenkinson (1693-1750) and Amaranth Cornowall (d. 1785). Jenkinson was the nephew of the eldest son in his father's family; he did not inherit power through his connections to gentry. After school, Jenkinson nearly went into the Church in 1753, but instead dedicated himself to whig propaganda. This endeavor led to important connections, such as the Duke of Marlborough and Grenville. In 1761, Jenkinson became an under-secretary in Lord Bute’s office. He gradually made progress through the political world, holding a position on the Treasury Board by 1767. He married Amelia Watts in 1769, but she died only a month after the birth of their first child, Robert Banks (later a prime minister). Jenkinson remarried in June, 1782, to widow Catherine Cope (1744-1827), with whom he had two children.


Lord North was a foil to Jenkinson’s political climb in the 1770s. However, in December 1778 North made him secretary at war, and out of this post grew an important relationship with George III and the North government. At the collapse of North’s ministry in 1782, Jenkinson was still a key member, but did not lose his position during Shelburne’s brief ministry and invested himself in the infantile Pitt ministry at the end of 1783. In August 1786 he became Baron Hawkesbury after the title of one of his Gloucester estates, and the first president of the new Board of Trade. In 1789 he inherited baronetcy from his cousin to become earl of Liverpool, and in 1791 he entered Pitt’s cabinet and played a prominent role up until his struggle with rheumatism beginning in 1800. His son, now earl of Liverpool, joined him in Parliament in 1801. Hawkesbury died at his London home on December 17, 1808 and was buried at Hawkesbury, Gloucestershire (J. Cannon, Oxford DNB).


Subject: 

Dressed as nursemaids with patriotic ribbons, Prime Minister Henry Addington, Lord Hawkesbury, and Charles Fox gather around Britannia as an oversized baby squeezed into a crib, the top of which reads “Requiescat in Peace.” In the crib, Britannia sucks her thumb and rests her head on her arm, her shield and scepter lying on her blanket. Hawskesbury holds a baby chair inscribed “French Cooking Chair,” Fox dries “French cambries” over the fire, and Addington sings a lullaby: “O by My Baby, my Baby, / o By in Peace! My dearee! / For such a sweet Nap as Thus / You never had far nor nearee! / so By my Baby my dearee.” A picture of Napoleon Bonaparte doing a jig while playing the violin hangs above the mantle; a tattered sheet entitled “Rule Britannia” hangs off to the side. On the mantle sit a bottle of opiate pills and a composing draught.

Theme: 

Britannia is a classical personification of England that dates to the second century A.D., when she was depicted on Graeco-Roman coins. Her introduction into political satire occurred shortly after her reappearance on British medals in the seventeenth century. In Gillray’s catalogue, Britannia is often the victim of the politicians. For example, she receives an enema from Charles Fox and Lord Frederick North; she is on her hands and knees receiving smelling salts or petitioning for pity from France; in FASHION before EASE;--or,--A good Constitution sacrificed, for a Fantastick Form Thomas Paine forces her into a corset (K. Hart, James Gillray, 26-27).

Significance: 

This print marks a major point in British politics: the aftermath of the transition from William Pitt’s to Addington's government and the economic necessity of peace with France. Furthermore, the way in which caricature conceptualized the nation in this print, in that it reflects the way the nation conceptualized the power(lessness) of women on a public level, makes this print a significant view into the extent in which Romantic culture aligned national and public power with the masculine and weakness with the feminine. For the most basic example, this means the right to vote. The depiction of powerlessness depended on a pictorial language of feminine vulnerability; the threat implied is that in failing to produce definitively and ideally masculine ministers, Britain was open to a French attack, the British male citizen susceptible to French foppishness. In this way, The Nursery responds to both the increasingly rigid gender definitions Romantic Britain and to the ever-present interest in British and French relations.

Function: 

Dressing up the government’s ministers at nursemaids, Gillray in this print conveys the latest political news, the Peace of Amiens, in an entertaining fashion. It furthermore satirizes the ineffectuality of the Addington government’s foreign policy.

Bibliography: 

Cannon, John. “Jenkinson, Charles, first earl of Liverpool (1729–1808).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, Jan 2008. 3 April 2009 .


Cookson, J. E. “Addington, Henry, first Viscount Sidmouth (1757–1844).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, Jan 2008. 2 April 2009 .


Hart, Katherine W. James Gillray: Prints by the Eighteenth Master of Caricature. Hanover: Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, 2004.


Mitchell, L. G. “Fox, Charles James (1749–1806).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, Oct 2007. 2 April 2009 .


Wright, Thomas, ed. The Works of James Gillray, the Caricaturist. London: Chatto and Windus, 1874.


Long Title: 

The Nursery; —with, Britannia reposing in Peace
 
 

Engraver: 

 

Delineator: 

 

Image Date: 

4 December 1802
 

Publisher: 

Hannah Humphrey