Rare 1755 cartoon predicting British victory in North America

Boitard Invt. et Delin. / J. June Sculp., BRITISH RESENTMENT or the FRENCH fairly COOPT at Louisbourg. London: Printed for T. Bowles in St. Pauls Church Yard, & Jno. Bowles & Son, in Cornhil [sic], 25 Septr. 1755
Engraving and etching on laid paper, 7 5/8”h x 12 15/16”w plus title on a 10 1/8 x 14 5/16” sheet, full period color. Toned, lined with tissue on reverse.

A fantastic, if premature, political cartoon predicting British victory in the French and Indian War.   

The title of the print refers to one of the opening battles of the War, when on June 8, 1755 off Newfoundland a squadron under Admiral Boscawen captured two French ships loaded with reinforcements for Louisbourg. Boscawen’s aggression, the print argues, marked the commencement of British “resentment” (i.e., retaliation) against French encroachments in North America (In truth, “resentment” of French encroachments in North America had begun at the so-called “Battle of Jumonville Glen” more than a year earlier, when a small force under Washington ambushed and killed several French soldiers near the Forks of the Ohio.)

The stage is set at far left, where Britannia sits on her throne “attending to the complaints of her injur’d Americans” and “receiv[ing] them into her protection.” Above the throne is the motto “Nemo me impune lacessit” (“No one provokes me with impunity”), while to her left “Neptune & Mars,” representing the British Army and Navy, “unite in [the Americans’] defence.”

The rest of the print features a near-riot of imagery and text poking fun at the French and/or predicting an easy British victory in America. At upper right the French are shown cooped up in Louisbourg like so many starving chickens, while a “Gang of brave Saylors exult[s].” In the background a shallop emblazoned with the fleur de lis “overset[s] at the Fall of Niagara.” At lower right “An English Saylor encouraged by a Soldier, Squeezes the Gallic Cock by the throat & makes him disgorge the French usurpations” of Ohio, Niagara, Crown Point, Beausejour, and St. John’s Fort, while “A French Political Schemer beholds the operation with grief and Confusion.” Nearby, “The English Rose [is] erect, the French Lilly drooping,” and at upper left, above it all, “The British Arms eclips[e] those of France.”

The celebration was of course a few years premature. The year 1755, when this print was issued, brought multiple British catastrophes in America, most famously the annihilation of Braddock’s force on the Monongahela. Indeed, the British did not gain the upper hand in the War until a force under Lord Amherst captured Louisbourg in the Summer of 1758.

Stephens, Frederic George and Mary Dorothy George, Catalogue of prints and drawings in the British Museum. Division I, political and personal satires, Vol. III Part II, #3332. OCLC 270931718, 4975644, 693489898 and #701835477.