King of the Cherokees, Lord Bute

John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute served as the First Lord of the Treasury (the British Prime Minister) between 1762 - 1763. He owed his position mainly through the patronage of King George III, perhaps the last example of such influence by a monarch. Earlier Bute had been the future King's tutor (from 1751), and he formed a close relationship with the Dowager Princess of Wales, wife of the late Prince Frederick. Bute's period as Prime Minister included such unpopular measures as the imposition of a Cider tax, and extra charges on the colonies, the latter leading eventually to the American Revolution. Amidst much unpopularity, Bute resigned after only a year, in 1763.

Bute's reputation is clear in this early political caricature by John Williams. As it is a complicated image, I thought it worth giving it its own page, though my "Scotland Mocked" page has one or two other cartoons with similar sentiments. According to the British Museum, John Williams was working as a print-maker between 1762 - 1778, making this 1762 caricature an early example of his work.

The print bears the inscription "To the King of the Cherokees, a Lover of Englishmen, this Print is Inscrib'd by his Most Obedient Slave, the Author." The reference to the Cherokees is a result of the recent Anglo-Cherokee War that had ended with a treaty in 1761. A delegation of Cherokee leaders had arrived in London for negotiations with George III, and they had become objects of great interest to the British Public, even meriting waxwork effigies at Mrs Salmon's Royal Waxworks in London.

However, the subject matter of the caricature is decidedly Scottish. There are two images. On the left, a figure dressed in tartan is seen flinging bags of gold from a window, down to a similar character below standing in a cart. "Here's muckle wealth, Mon" says the figure in the window, while the man below shouts "Heave out, Sawney, let's not leave them a Bawbel." A sentry bottom right sleeps in his box, while another figure (William Pitt?) enters in despair, saying "O ho, it is so, it is so." Below is a verse:


                                                  With Shame, O Britons here behold 

                                                  Sly Sawney  Pocketting your Gold

                                                  While we who get it for his use

                                                  Are forc'd to Pockett the Abuse.

                                                  But leaving them to laugh that win

                                                  Lets see what Tricks are play'd within....

The verse continues below the image on the right:


                                                  See here the STATE turn'd upside down

                                                  The BONNET triumphs o'er the               

                                                  The half-starv'd CLANS in hopes of Prey

                                                  Come oe'r the Hills and far away.

                                                  But let us still our Rights maintain

                                                  And drive the LOCUST'S home again.

Within is depicted a number of figures ranging from Henry Fox ("Since we can't continue the W-r with Spirit lets patch up a Peace") to Tobias Smollett ("I want Subject matter for my next Briton"). Bute himself presides and assures the gathering that "I will provide  for au my friends" while the Dowager Princess of Wales peers from behind a curtain, saying in admiration "Ah Brave Sawney". A figure seated behind  the table expresses his support for Bute "Your WILL shall be my LAW" while another standing says "Diel o my Soul, but I'll retake Newfoundland" (the British Museum suggests this is Simon Fraser - see my book The Immeasurable Wilds, page 65 - 68). Lord Mansfield of the clan Murray, seated with his back to the artist exclaims "Continue your Pitiful Abuse". To the left can be seen 6 Highlanders all hoping for positions of influence in government.

The message of the caricature is manifest: some 15 years after Culloden, there was  obvious alarm at the influence of Scotland over English affairs, caused by King's patronage of the Earl of Bute and his retinue. Clearly, English suspicion of Scottish influence is not just a feature of modern politics!