Shall It Ever Come to This?, by William Henry Boucher (1837-1906). Judy, (9 May 1877): 34-35. Click on image to enlarge it

The cartoon is designed to prompt feelings of disgust in a British public literally becoming 'Jingoistic' about foreign affairs. This may also be an attempt to pressure the Conservative government, and its constituency, to move more strongly towards a policy of confrontation with Russia over the unfolding Eastern Crisis. 'Shall it Ever Come to This?' imagines a nightmare scenario, in which John Bull kneels in supplication before a monstrous Russian Cossack bandit, pleading that he be allowed to sail to India via the Suez Canal. Not only is John Bull's ship now called 'The (Late) Rule Britannia', but the Romanov imperial eagle is now emblazoned on the canal entry gates. Boucher appears to have based his sketch on British domestic canals, with their wooden lock gates also functioning as toll-points. The Suez Canal has no such gates, as the water levels in the Mediterranean and Red Sea are similar, and the Isthmus of Suez largely flat.

Commentary by Richard Scully. Image scan and formatting by Jacqueline Banerjee. You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned it and the Hathi Trust, and (2) link your document to this URL or cite it in a print document. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

Links to related material


Judy, or the London serio-comic journal. Vol. 21 (1877): 34-35. Hathi Trust, from a copy in Harvard University library. Web. 31 January 2022.

Created 31 January 2022