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In the mid-eighteenth century, the ‘Patriot’ political opposition often referred to an idea of England in the Elizabethan age and earlier, when kings supposedly protected their people against unjust masters, and all lived in harmony and prosperity. This is the ‘old England’ referred to in the title.

Hogarth visited France in 1748, and was arrested while sketching the fortifications at Calais: this is shown at the far left. He represents the French by a rabble of scrawny soldiers and a fat friar, contrasting France implicitly with an England where all eat roast beef and not soupe maigre (watery soup).

July 2004