Thursday, April 29, 2010

John Bull


"...Since this unhappy division of our nation into parties, it is not to be imagined how many artifices have been made use of by writers to obscure the truth, and cover designs which may be detrimental to the public. In particular, it has been their custom of late to vent their political spleen in allegory and fable. If an honest believing nation is to be made a jest of, we have a story of " John Bull and his wife:" if a treasurer is to be glanced at, an ant with a white straw is introduced; if a treaty of commerce is to be ridiculed, it is immediately metamorphosed into a tale of « Count Tariff."*

* Arbuthnot's History of John Bull is quoted on the one side, and on the other, a paper of Steele's Guardian, in which some political insinuations are couched, under the allegory of a colony of ants. The satire, entitled The Trial of Count Tariff, was written in ridicule of the commercial treaty .with France..."

From The Works of Jonathan Swift, D.D
With Notes and a Life of the Author by Sir Walter Scott

John Arbuthnot seems to have been something of a renaissance man, contributing in several different fields of knowledge; math, medicine, writing.  He was born on April 29, 1667.  Arbuthnot and Jonathan Swift became close after Swift moved to London, in 1710.  The two formed "The Brothers' Club" where they discussed ideas for a publication called the "Tory".

Arbuthnot created the character John Bull, in 1712, to satirize the war between England and France.  John Bull grew to represent the prototypical Englishman.  Bull had a sister Peg, which represented Scotland.

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