History of John Bull

Contents:
Author: John Arbuthnot

Introduction

This is the book which fixed the name and character of John Bull on the English people. Though in one part of the story he is thin and long nosed, as a result of trouble, generally he is suggested to us as "ruddy and plump, with a pair of cheeks like a trumpeter," an honest tradesman, simple and straightforward, easily cheated; but when he takes his affairs into his own hands, acting with good plain sense, knowing very well what he wants done, and doing it.

The book was begun in the year 1712, and published in four successive groups of chapters that dealt playfully, from the Tory point of view, with public affairs leading up to the Peace of Utrecht. The Peace urged and made by the Tories was in these light papers recommended to the public. The last touches in the parable refer to the beginning of the year 1713, when the Duke of Ormond separated his troops from those of the Allies and went to receive Dunkirk as the stipulated condition of cessation of arms. After the withdrawal of the British troops, Prince Eugene was defeated by Marshal Villars at Denain, and other reverses followed. The Peace of Utrecht was signed on the 31st of March.

Some chapters in this book deal in like manner, from the point of view of a good-natured Tory of Queen Anne’s time, with the feuds of the day between Church and Dissent. Other chapters unite with this topic a playful account of another chief political event of the time—the negotiation leading to the Act of Union between England and Scotland, which received the Royal Assent on the 6th of March, 1707; John Bull then consented to receive his "Sister Peg" into his house. The Church, of course, is John Bull’s mother; his first wife is a Whig Parliament, his second wife a Tory Parliament, which first met in November, 1710.

This "History of John Bull" began with the first of its four parts entitled "Law is a Bottomless Pit, exemplified in the case of Lord Strutt, John Bull, Nicholas Frog, and Lewis Baboon, who spent all they had in a Law-suit." For Law put War—the War of the Spanish Succession; for lawyers, soldiers; for sessions, campaigns; for verdicts, battles won; for Humphry Hocus the attorney, Marlborough the general; for law expenses, war expenses; and for aim of the whole, to aid the Tory policy of peace with France. A second part followed, entitled "John Bull in his Senses;" the third part was called "John Bull still in his Senses;" and the fourth part, "Lewis Baboon turned Honest, and John Bull Politician." The four parts were afterwards arranged into two, as they are here reprinted, and published together as "The History of John Bull," with a few notes by the author which sufficiently explain its drift.

The author was John Arbuthnot, a physician, familiar friend of Pope and Swift, whom Pope addressed as

"Friend to my life, which did not you prolong,
The world had wanted many an idle song;"

and of whom Swift said, that "he has more wit than we all have, and his humanity is equal to his wit." "If there were a dozen Arbuthnots in the world," said Swift, "I would burn ’Gulliver’s Travels.’"

Arbuthnot was of Swift’s age, born in 1667, son of a Scotch Episcopal clergyman, who lost his living at the Revolution. His sons—all trained in High Church principles—left Scotland to seek their fortunes; John came to London and taught mathematics. He took his degree of Doctor of Medicine at St. Andrews in 1696; found use for mathematics in his studies of medicine; became a Fellow of the Royal Society; and being by chance at Epsom when Queen Anne’s husband was taken ill, prescribed for him so successfully that he was made in 1705 Physician Extraordinary, and upon the occurrence of a vacancy in 1709 Physician in Ordinary, to the Queen. Swift calls him her favourite physician. In 1710 he was admitted Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. That was Arbuthnot’s position in 1712-13 when, at the age of forty-five, he wrote this "History of John Bull." He was personal friend of the Ministers whose policy he supported, and especially of Harley, Earl of Oxford, the Sir Roger of the History.

After Queen Anne’s death, and the coming of the Whigs to power, Arbuthnot lost his office at Court. But he was the friend and physician of all the wits; himself without literary ambition, allowing friends to make what alterations they pleased in pieces that he wrote, or his children to make kites of them. A couple of years before his death he suffered deeply from the loss of the elder of his two sons. He was himself afflicted then with stone, and retired to Hampstead to die. "A recovery," he wrote to Swift, "is in my case and in my age impossible; the kindest wish of my friends is euthanasia." He died in 1735.

Contents:

Related Resources

None available for this document.

Download Options


Title: History of John Bull

Select an option:

*Note: A download may not start for up to 60 seconds.

Email Options


Title: History of John Bull

Select an option:

Email addres:

*Note: It may take up to 60 seconds for for the email to be generated.

Chicago: John Arbuthnot, "Introduction," History of John Bull, trans. Evans, Sebastian in History of John Bull Original Sources, accessed May 11, 2021, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=XYA1PTH99JWA1XA.

MLA: Arbuthnot, John. "Introduction." History of John Bull, translted by Evans, Sebastian, in History of John Bull, Original Sources. 11 May. 2021. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=XYA1PTH99JWA1XA.

Harvard: Arbuthnot, J, 'Introduction' in History of John Bull, trans. . cited in , History of John Bull. Original Sources, retrieved 11 May 2021, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=XYA1PTH99JWA1XA.