December 14, 1861

The Dangerous Playmate – A Singular Instance of Fascination

Frank Bellew

As an allegory of Great Britain, John Bull is usually seen as a hefty adult male, as shown in the Frank Leslie cartoon. In this cartoon by Frank Bellew, a baby is seen feeding a snake named Rebellion. At the time of publication, the North feared Great Britain was secretly helping to supply the Confederacy with money and goods. Take another look at the snake. The proportions of the snake create an interesting analogy. The top half, the part that John Bull can see, seems harmless – but its body grows larger and thicker until it ends in the tail, labeled ‘slavery’. The artist is implying that if Great Britain helps the South, they do so without truly knowing the extent of what they are supporting.

Pamela Hayek

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