Who is John Bull
Hi again so soon folks I hope you all are well and please excuse me, I have the blogging bug at the moment so really enjoying my write ups.
I’m not sure if you have noticed but I have many a time about this old fable type gentleman called John Bull.
Obviously this chap is a fictional character penned from a gentleman called Dr John Arbuthnot whom had connections back then with the satirist Alexandra Pope and the famous writer Jonathan Swift whom skilfully mastered his art and wrote the extremely famous Gulliver’s Travels.
The birth of John Bull first happened in 1712 and Bull was to appear in a pamphlet by Arbuthnot called the lawless pit where this fictional character first made his debut and then went on to appear in a second story, that was to make light fun of the Spanish succession in which John plays a bold, honest and forth right clothier that wishes to bring lawsuits and against the Kings of France and Spain as well as established gentlefolk either at home or abroad, I believe this to be a snigger at European fashion back then.
So when John first started his fictional life the pen was taken over by William Hogarth, his self and other writers started to mold John Bull into a heroic archetype of the free born English gentleman.
I have read that through the years the figure of Bull was disseminated overseas by illustrators and writers such as American cartoonist Thomas Nast and Irish writer George Bernard shaw author of the book John Bulls other island.
John Bull’s Other Island is a comedy about Ireland, written by George Bernard shaw in 1904.
Shaw himself was born in Dublin, yet this is one of only two plays of his where he thematically returned to his homeland, the other being O Flaherty VC The play was highly successful in its day, but is rarely revived, probably because of so much of the dialogue is specific to the politics of the day.
Stretching through to the 1760s John Bull had become a different character and was seen as an Anglo Saxon country dweller with that trademark huffy waist coat and a simple coat over the top in a navy blue colour yet this changed with time and John could be seen wearing the Union Jack (Britannia) and the lion waist coats that were added to his attire and used as alternatives when starring in editorial cartoons.
As a literary figure, John Bull is well-intentioned, frustrated, full of common sense, and entirely of native country stock.
Unlike Uncle Sam later, he is not a figure of authority but rather a Yeoman who prefers his small beer and domestic peace, possessed of neither patriarchal power nor heroic defiance. Arbuthnot provided him with a sister named Peg (Scotland), and a traditional adversary in Louis Baboon (the House of bourbon France).
Peg continued in pictorial art beyond the 18th century, but the other figures associated with the original tableau dropped away.
John Bull himself continued to frequently appear as a national symbol in posters and cartoons as late as World War I.
Increasingly through the early twentieth century, John Bull became seen as not particularly representative of “the common man”, and during the First World War his popularity was dwindling and this function was largely taken over by the figure of Tommy Atkins…
John Bull’s surname is also reminiscent of the alleged fondness of the English for beef, reflected in the French nickname for English people, les rosbifs (the “Roast Beefs”).
It is also reminiscent of the animal, and for that reason Bull is portrayed as “virile, strong, and stubborn” like a bull.
Many associate John Bulls name with the fact he added a bulldog by he’s side this is not true and like John Bull the bulldog represents the politics the satire and the comedy of the day, the bulldog then went on to be a simple yet very effective propaganda tool in both world wars and is now a mascot of the USMC.
John Bull is still looked upon with affection by many English people.
As Uncle Sam is the iconic representation of the United States, so John Bull is the tough stout stereotype seen through the writers eyes, the character of the English: honest, generous, straightforward, with a zest for life and ready to stand up and fight for what he believes in and I believe the bulldog stood for similar meanings.
Today you can find a vast array of John Bull figurines they come in all shapes and sizes you can find many that are just John Bull and there are many others where you can see he’s bulldog standing faithfully by he’s side.
I used to own what’s believed to be a Victorian John Bull figurine and was one of the first from crown Derby and made from slip clay.
I sold it to a collector that had the rarer peg bull piece so that he could then sell the pair on for a descent profit I didn’t mind as I find these pieces quite easy sometimes.
Please find my John Bulls through out this blog for your muse and I think my quirkiest John Bull is a silver charm of him that when opened produces a cute little bulldog head peeping out of he’s chubby tum tum, so that’s a blog back on the subject of collecting I have to see its been amazing with blogs galore from myself and new guest bloggers too.
Till next time folks happy collecting!!!
Collectibulldogs has been given a fantastic opportunity to have a brand new website made, I hope it will be better than my attempt and I will keep everybody interested in this venture updated but as the fellow that’s making does websites all the time it maybe up and running very soon indeed.