Hints & Hits 1: "Moral against physical force: on his choice depends the sanity & health of the whole state", William Tell, Dublin, 1844
The first print, ‘Moral against Physical Force’ (Fig. 1), is reminiscent of the British radical prints dating from the Reform Act crisis of the early 1830s. The idea is simple, although the effect is cluttered by a multiplication of figures on both sides and an excess of text. In the scales of justice—an explicit reference to the state trials which had now reached their twelfth day—O’Connell and truth, supported by the ‘7 millions’ of Irish Catholics, easily outweigh the ‘Physical Force’ of John Bull and his myriad associates of soldiers, judges, (Anglican) bishops and quarrelsome devils (at least fifteen of whom swarm about). Two Shakespearian tags add gravitas to the Irish case: the subtitle ‘on his choice depends the sanity and health of the whole state’ is a rather unfortunate equation of O’Connell and Hamlet; ‘Foul deeds will rise’ is a rather less complicated tag. The British side is personalised with representations of Peel and Wellington—a running theme of ‘Hints and Hits’—with the duke’s name punned as ‘Villainton’.
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William Tell was a (presumably pseudonymous) nationalist cartoonist who published a series of...
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