After a week of poisonous anarchy among our Tory rulers it seems apt to give space to a cartoon in Welsh, issued in Llanrwst as a woodcut print in around 1834-36 (according to Peter Lord).
The artist is James Cope. Almost nothing is known about him, except that he was born in Caernarfonshire in 1805 or 1806 and that he was living in Caernarfon in 1841. The area was a centre of political and religious radicalism at the time, and a place where popular printing flourished. John Jones, the publisher of the image, started printing at Trefriw before moving to Llanrwst in 1825. Cope holds little back in his picture of â€˜The Tories being taken home to their familyâ€™.
The horned and hooved demon Belphegor is one of the seven princes of hell, and carries out missions on earth for his master, Satan (he features in Miltonâ€™s Paradise lost). We see him striding back to the underworld with a crop of well-dressed Tories. Some are strapped to his back. One, with a gallows set on top of his hat, is grasped by the demonâ€™s tail. Another, a bishop or clergyman, has his ample rump impaled on a pitchfork.
The conversation at the foot of the image goes like this, in translation:
â€˜Hey hoâ€™, says Lucifer, â€˜what have you thereâ€™?
â€˜Fifteen Toriesâ€™, says Belphegor.
â€˜What?â€™, says the King, â€˜only fifteen? They should be arriving by the hundred. Youâ€™ve been away for three days, Sire, and could only find fifteen for me?â€™
And the bubble from Belphegorâ€™s well-fanged mouth reads, â€˜But canâ€™t I do whatever I wish with my own possessions?â€™