Blame it all on the Government....
As the eighteenth century drew to a close Britain had been at war almost continuously (since 1793). Although the Pitt government enjoyed considerable support, there were many in the Whig Opposition who were becoming increasingly critical of the hardships that war brought. This caricature is a clever satire on the abnormally bad weather of 1799 and the rising cost of the Napoleonic war, also of the Tory
Prime Minister William Pitt (1759-1806) and Whig politician Dr. Samuel Parr (1747-1825), a Warwickshire schoolmaster and supporter of the Whigs. He was a man of eccentric habits, smoking and drinking porter [beer] being then largely confined to artisans but Parr was a well-known imbiber.
A large frothing tankard stands on a cask whose head forms the base of the design. Here Pitt, like a horseman of the Apocalypse, rises from the froth on the Doctor's porter, mounted on a white Hanovarian horse as a monumental equestrian statue on a high pedestal, except his is backwards.
The weather in the autumn/winter of 1799 was particularly harsh, as seen in the top half of Gillray’s satire. The four winds blow on the upper right. Pitt is shown as being responsible not only for the war but also for the poor weather, the bad harvest and - worst of all - for the high price of Dr. Parr's favourite drink.
The title continues quoting Parr, “its all owing to the War & the cursed Ministry! – have not They ruind the Harvest? – have not They Blighted all the Hops? – Have not They brought on the destructive Rains, that we might be Ruin’d in order to support the War? – & brib’d the Sun not to Shine, that they may Plunder us in the dark?”
Parr also blamed Pitt for the rising cost of porter [beer] and the print notes the exorbitant price on the mug. 4d. ....What else is new!
This splendid carcature is as relevant for the woes that trouble us today, as it was in 1799.