A Great Little Man's Night Comforts

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Artist unidentified, Bony’s Visions or a Great Little Man’s Night Comforts, 1811. Aquatint. GC021 British Caricatures. Gift of Dickson Q. Brown, Class of 1895.

The Satirist, or Monthly Meteor was founded and edited by George Manners (1778-1853). Beginning in October 1807, the monthly journal exposed the foolishness of contemporary politicians, opening with a folded frontispiece caricature. Manners sold the magazine in 1812 to the Scottish journalist William Jerdan (1782-1869), who ran it until 1814.

This print is signed by The Caricaturist General. Several others in The Satirist are designed by Sylvester Scrutiny. Neither artist can be identified. Many are etched by “de Wilde” e.g. Samuel De Wilde (1751-1832), a portrait painter and etcher who specialized in theatrical subjects.

Bony’s Visions or a Great Little Man’s Night Comforts was published in volume 9, p. 165 as an illustration to “The Vision of Buonaparte,” p.110-21, which claims to be the Emperor’s account of a dream the night after his son’s birth.

In it, we see Napoleon, wearing a night-shirt, leap from a canopied bed, terrified at the demons, goblins, and ghosts that surround him. He holds a dagger and calls, “Duroc, Savory, Roustan, aux armes aux armes.” Napoleon’s son is nursed by a demon, who says: “Dear Image of my darling Nap, / Suck milk of Hell instead of pap.”

Near the bed is a coffin marked with ‘N’ and a crown; on this are a rat and two birds; a stork and an owl. An imp with antlers, crouching on the bed-curtain, is about to knock off with a wand the crown surmounting Napoleon’s night-cap.


There is good reason the prints in The Satirist are rarely credited. George Manners and his writers were the targets of multiple lawsuits. The magazine was only two years old when Manners wrote Vindiciæ Satiricæ, or a Vindication of the Principles of the “Satirist,” (1809) documenting the action brought by Peter Finnerty.

Three years later, Thomas Gill wrote, Libels: a Statement of the Trial of an Indictment against George Manners, … 1st June, 1811, for Libels in The Satirist of the 1st May, 1809, and 1st September, 1810, on the Character of William Hallett, Esq., upon which Indictment the Defendant was Found Guilty….


In the third volume, Manners published a statement:
Notwithstanding the unparalleled opposition which we have experienced, and the multitude of hostile scoundrels whom we have encountered, our publication is daily increasing its circulation….

We have dragged from their filthy dens a horde of miscreants, who battened on the fruits of slander, who mangled and destroyed alike the characters of the guilty and the innocent, and who, the moment we exposed them to the public eye, have either shrunk into their original insignificance, or only been noticed like gibbet ted murderers, for the enormity of their crimes.

…We defy our enemies to point out a single instance where we have inflicted unmerited punishment, or bestowed unjust commendation. …Adieu for the present, dear Sir Richard, thou hast afforded us much amusement, but more melancholy reflections on the pride, vain glory, and hypocrisy of mankind: if we have waged war against thy vanity, folly, and—errors, remember, we were not the first to kindle the flame!

See also William Jerdan (1782-1869), The Autobiography of William Jerdan (London: A. Hall, Virtue & Co., 1852-53).Firestone Library 3802.4.31

The Satirist, or Monthly Meteor, 1807-1814. Graphic Arts Collection Cruik 1808 v.1-14. Gift of Richard Waln Meirs, Class of 1888.

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Wow. Those illustrations are amazing, and now I'm going to have nightmares for weeks.