The Corsican Pest is one of the best-known images by engraver and satirist James Gillray, whose substantial body of over 1,000 images includes a large number of works depicting Napoleonic France. Here Gillray is at his scatological best. Napoleon is depicted skewered on the prongs of a roasting fork held by Beelzebub, surrounded by devilish imps who protect their noses from his offensive emanations. Napoleon is consigned to everlasting flames for his murderous campaigns in Europe and for harbouring avaricious imperial ambitions. According to the text, Napoleon possesses more evil than the Devil himself, corrupt to his very ‘marrow and bones’ and wicked from his ‘head to his toes’.
Images such as this were part of a substantial body of loyal, anti-French literature that circulated in Britain at the time of the Napoleonic wars deploring the fate of European nations. The imperial aspirations of Napoleon quickly generated a solid loyal response in Britain, with many ordinary men called to arms to defend the nation from French invasion.