In the spotlight
Spooky spirit or terrifying turnip?
Never before have vegetables seemed so terrible...
Superstition and gullibility are the targets of this satirical cartoon. A group of terrified villagers dash into a churchyard to confront what they believe to be a terrible red-eyed apparition. In their fright they propel their clergyman along before them, hoping he will be able to face down the ghost...
In reality, however, the ghost is a practical joke, a schoolboy’s prank, made out of a mop-stick covered with a white sheet, with a carved turnip for a head. A candle has been placed inside the hollowed-out turnip, making the carved eye-sockets glow and flicker. While the parson throws up his hands in surprise, the man standing directly behind him appears to be screaming in terror, his hair literally standing on end, and another brave soul clutches anxiously at the parson’s robe.
Etched beneath is a short verse explaining the scene:
The parson was brought in a horrible fright,
To allay a mere turnip on a mopstick upright,
Which an unlucky boy, had placed in the porch,
And in it alight a most terrible torch.
When his trick is discovered, and the villagers (by now very embarrassed) hunt down the culprit, the boy will undoubtedly be feeling ‘unlucky’ for some time to come!
Political Cartoons 1 (97)
The Terrible Ghost; or, Village in an Uproar (etching, published by Laurie & Whittle, 1794)