The Fox that lost his Tail.
London, S W Fores, May 25th. 1798
Original hand colouring
270 x 380 mm
Fox, with the body of a fox, addresses a semicircle of other foxes with human heads. His tail is cut off and lies on the ground next a low block consisting of a truncated column. Over this block projects an axe held in the King’s hand, his arm (in the Windsor uniform) projecting from the left margin, the sleeve inscribed ‘Royal Perogative’. The axe is surmounted by a crown inscribed ‘Weighty Reasons’, the blade is: ‘Pro Rege lege Grege’. Fox, in profile to the right, with outstretched right paw, says: "You cannot conceive my Dear Friends how comfortable I feel without my Tail, our worthy Associate there first underwent the Operation, and I have no doubt but every one of you that is troubled with that useless incumberance, will follow so glorious an example; and I can assure you it is performed with such expedition and ease that Egad the same Machine would take off all our Heads in the twinkling of an Eye." The other foxes listen intently; they are, left to right: Sheridan and Derby, both behind Fox; the latter, whose tail is very small, turns his head to say "I dont think my Tail of much use"; Sheridan answers: "no or of ornament either". A large fox with a magnificent brush (? Grey), next Fox, looks at him doubtfully. Next stands Lauderdale, his head turned in profile to the left; Nicholls lies on the ground. Tierney sits on his haunches, next Bedford, who is standing; these two have fine tails. On the extreme right sits Norfolk, tailless, looking wistfully at Fox; he says: "I assure you I feel quite cool and comfortable without my Tail besides being fasionable" [see BMSat 9168, &c.]. Beneath the title: ‘A Fox taken in a trap, was glad to compound for his neck by leaving his tail behind him. it was so uncouth a sight for a Fox to appear without a tail, that the very thought of it made him weary of his life; but however for the better countenanc of the Scandal he got Master and Wardens of the Foxes Company to call a Court of Assistants, where he himself appear ‘d and made a learned discourse upon the trouble and uselessness, and the indecency of Foxes wearing tails, – He had no sooner said out his say but up rises a cunning Snap then at the board, who desired to be informed whether the worthy member, that mov’d against the wearing of Tails gave his advice for the advantage of those that had Tails or to palliate the deformity of those that had None. ‘æsops Fables”. The ‘cunning snap’ is apparently the fox conjecturally identified as Grey. BM 9215