The Trial of "Bill Burn," Under Martin's Act.
"Bill's Donkey Then Was Brought Into Court, Who Caused of Course a Deal of Sport" P. Mathews, Stourbridge, After. Hunt, Charles, Engraver. The Trial of "Bill Burn," Under Martin's Act. London: Ackermann & Co., [c.1829]. 20" x 23" aquatint backed onto cloth, repairs to a few chips, small holes and tears in margins, two tears touching image without loss. Light toning and soiling to margins, image clean and vivid. $1,250. * The Trial of Bill Burns was the first prosecution under the 1822 Act to Prevent the Cruel and Improper Treatment of Cattle, or Martin's Act, a landmark in the history of animal rights. Burn, who was brought to trial after he was found beating his donkey, was the first person indicted under this act. The prosecution was brought by Richard Martin, MP for Galway, also known as Humanity Dick, and the case is famous because he brought the donkey into court as a witness. This engraving depicts the scene inside a provincial courtroom. The vegetable drover, with his crates of produce nearby, is thumbing his nose at his recently beaten donkey. Unmoved by the animal's distress and open wounds, the court officials and spectators are amused by the spectacle. This depiction shows the artist had little sympathy for the bill. What's more, he placed a copy of the Martin Act bill behind the donkey's hind legs, suggesting that it is "asinine." Also, referring to the donkey's owner as Bill Burn suggests what he would like to do to Martin's law. Founded by Randolph Ackermann, Ackermann & Co. was a prominent British publisher and printseller that was active from 1829 to 1859.
Book number 71807