Punch, LXIX (December 11, 1875): 245
"Mose in Egitto!!!" or "Moses Modernised"
his engraving expands upon the popular theme of reversing the Earl of Beaconsfield's romanticization of his Jewish ancestry. In this cartoon, Disraeli and the Great Sphinx exchange a smirk and a knowing glance: further attesting to the conspiratorial aspects of "The Asiatic Mystery." The figure of Disraeli shares iconographic features with his other caricatures. His belly is thrust forward and his feet placed further apart than other figures. With his finger next to his nose, the overall effect is one of impudence and cunning. Add to this his swarthy complexion and curly hair, and he becomes an impudent Oriental. With his odd and ostensibly fashionable clothing contrasting sharply with his features and a headdress composed of a hat with a piece of cloth tied around it to resemble a turban, at best Disraeli appears to be a superficially civilized Arab. At worst, Disraeli's limited Anglicization is deliberate and nefarious.
The conspiratorial character of the engraving is considerably enhanced by several details. Disraeli alone holds the Suez Canal, the "Key to India." The Sphinx, a mythological creature whose main attribute is a sinister propensity for riddles, bears Disraeli's face. What is remarkable is the manner in which elements of ancient Egypt, ancient Israel, modern Jews, Arabs, and Indians, are presented together in one relatively small engraving.
Victorian initial "T" by Harlan Wallach ©copyright 1994.]
Return to Punch page.