The Central Board Of Health.Cholera consultation.
Feby. 27th. 1832 - Published by S Knights, Sweetings Alley Royal Exchange.
Hand coloured lithograph, very scarce and interesting image, sheet 270 x 405mm. 10½ x 16". Fine.
A satire on the Board of Health, set up to combat cholera, a severe bacterial infection, which primarily affects the small intestine; the main symptoms include production of profuse watery diarrhea and vomiting. Transmission is primarily through contaminated drinking water or infected food. Four over-fed doctors carouse at a table laden with rounds of beef and decanters. Each holds up a glass and gives a toast. The man at the head of the table (left): 'Long life to our Central Board—R /. "in medio tutissimus bibis [for ibis]"—as we say in the classics'. His vis-à-vis: 'May we preserve our health by bleeding the country'. The man in back view: 'I drink Reform in our Hospitals, may they close their doors against the public & the poor die in Hackney coaches'. On the back of his chair: 'Board & Lodging'. His vis-à-vis: 'I pledge myself to keep some cases afloat'. From their coat-pockets hang big bloated purses. Beside the first speaker a long scroll hangs from a writing-table (left): 'Post Mortem Appearances, want of Employment Poverty Starvation Quarantine Stagnation Distress Blue Ruin' [gin]. On the floor (right): 'While Drs differ & deny—The Country bleeds & patients die'. Above the principal doctor hangs a picture of a bottle (blue) emitting smoke, and with head, arms, and legs, capering menacingly. This (a symbol of humbug) is 'Contagious Cholera'. At the other end of the room (right) packing cases are piled from floor to ceiling inscribed (reading downwards): 'A bad case' [broken]; 'Cases made on the Shortest Notice'; 'Per varios [sic] casus, per tot discrimina rerum" / Tendimus" / 'By various cases & such discrimination / we get on.' / Docrs Transtn —'; 'Dr Bolus Case Maker'; 'New Case' [twice]. There was much controversy as to the efficacy and practicability of quarantine. A general Board of Health had been appointed in June 1831; of Sir William Pym, Sir William Burnett, Sir B. Martin, Sir James McGrigor, with the Assistant Secretary to the Treasury. They met at the Council Office in Whitehall and issued statistical reports (here ridiculed). According to a letter in The Times, 14 February, "the public will look in vain for a cessation of the official reports, while the Government employs agents to search for cases at high salaries". After William Henry Merle (1828 - 1850; fl. c.), author and amateur draughtsman who supplied sketches for prints to George Cruikshank; he signed drawings with the pseudonym 'A Bird'.
BM Satires: 16955.
[Ref: 16140] £420.00