©Wellcome Library, London

The illustration is the 4th in a series entitled, ‘The drunkard's children', which depict the physical, mental and moral degeneration of the offspring of a man addicted to alcohol. The caption on the picture reads: ‘... the maniac father and the convict brother are gone - the poor girl, homeless, friendless, deserted, destitute, and gin-mad, commits self-murder'. It was believed that alcoholism (the term was coined in 1852) was part of a hereditary cycle of degeneration which eventually led to character disintegration and madness.

Etching by George Cruikshank (1792-1878) after himself.