Samuel De Wilde pseud ‘Thomaso Scrutiny’
The Rival Majicians or Raising the Spirit.
London, S. Tipper July 1st 1808
Aquatint, printed in sepia
Trimmed within left platemark, traces of old folds as issued
A scene in a distillery. On the left is the distilling apparatus and an enormous vat, with two negroes feeding the furnace with sugar cane. In the foreground on the left stands a tall grinning negro, wearing white magician’s robes and waving a magician’s wand made of sugar cane in one hand and a portrait of John Bull sitting in an armchair, with a jug of ale in one hand and a loaded fork in the other. Flames spout from the end of his wand and spirit pours from the tap on the vat into a shallow tub, inscribed Old Tom (gin), in which disport six naked, winged, grotesque figures, emblems of disease and vice. On the right the skinny, bald, ugly figure of Sir John Sinclair, President of the Board of Agriculture, wearing a long tartan dressing gown and riding a dying sheep starts back in horror from the apparition, holding aloft a broken corn stalk. Beside him is Arthur Young holding up a pen and on the right two scotsmen run away. On the ground is a broken picture and a trampled sheaf of corn. An interesting satire on the Bill prohibiting the distillation of spirits from grain and forcing distillers to use sugar and molasses. This was the result of an Inquiry into the best means of granting relief to the West Indian planters, badly hit by the closing of the Continental markets to sugar. The Scottish whisky distillers were badly hit and there were protests about protecting West Indian industry at the expense of British interests. BM 10993.