Rare British satire on the French and Indian War

L. Boitard Invt., BRITAIN`S RIGHTS maintaind; or FRENCH AMBITION dismantled. Addrest to the Laudable Societys of ANTI-GALICANS, The generous Promoters of British Arts & Manufactories By their most Sincere Well wisher and truly devoted Humble Servant A Lover of his Country, [London,] August 11th 1755.
Etching and engraving on laid paper, printed area 9 3/4"h x 12 3/4"w. Tiny trace of old color.

This complex and vivid cartoon adopts an overtly triumphant tone at the outset of the French and Indian War mocking the French for their imperial pretensions and celebrating British victories in North America. The image must of course be viewed as purely aspirational: It was published in 1755, a year marked by a series of French victories and British reverses, most famously General Braddock’s defeat and death at the Monongahela.

Rather than re-inventing the wheel, I quote Dolmetsch’s description:

“Female Britannia holding a pole with a liberty cap entreats Mars and Neptune, representing the English populace, to maintain their rights and be brave. At her side the British lion threatens the cock as it plucks out feathers labeled with the names of French areas coveted by the English. With his sword Mars cuts through the robes of France on which is a map of North America. He promises honor for the British. His companion Neptune, using his trident in a similar threatening manner, swears equal allegiance to the cause. France is also represented by a robed female figure who laments that heretics will now possess some of her land. Representing French politicians, a fop blames much of his country’s disasters on the French fleet that became lost in the fog. Jack Tar, the typical English seaman, tells the fop that now the rightful owner has assumed possession of North America. Standing in front of Mars is a small Indian boy, America, taunting the cock by inquiring how it will get home without its feathers.

“Boitard has added another satiric element to the design by placing a column celebrating George II’s victories in the background. Around this pillar surmounted by the English royal arms dance a group of elated citizens and sailors.” (Rebellion and Reconciliation, p. 18)

One element worth emphasizing is the “small Indian boy, America” mocking the French cock from a safe position under Britannia’s outstretched arm. This represents well the imperial view of the American colonies as immature and dependent, an outlook that badly hampered the British War effort and of course contributed directly to the American Revolution.

L. Boitard was Louis Philippe Boitard, a French engraver and graphic designer active in London during the Seven Years’ War. Though better known for fine art reproductions and book illustrations, his Britain’s Rights maintaind is evidence that he successfully assimilated the conventions of British satire. He advertised this print on p. 383 of the August, 1755 number of The Gentleman’s Magazine, priced 6 pence.

British Musem, Political and Personal Satires, v. 3 #3331. Dolmetsch, Rebellion and Reconciliation, #3 (illus.) As of February 2015 OCLC gives examples at Yale (Walpole) and the Bibliotheque Nationale. Others are held by Colonial Williamsburg and the John Carter Brown Library (2).


Some creasing and wrinkling, trimmed to or just inside neat line all around. Narrow chip at top left edge affecting small area of image.