This image is a somewhat Gothic little take on Scorpio history.
George Cruikshank was a caricaturist of the 1800s – huge in his day – who clearly did not like Scorpios. All of his other astrological pieces are more or less flattering depictions of the sign symbol or using wordplay. Scorpio? He goes to town with the Goth-o-Rama, complete with skulls, presumably discarded by the vengeful seething Scorpio.
George was Libran and could have had some personal bias against Scorps. He had the classic Libran Free Love mentality. Lauded for his saintly civic values and good husbandry, he also had a secret mistress with 11 of his children. Maybe a Scorpio gossip columnist of the era threatened to ruin his whole racket. For a more nuanced take on Scorpio in history and the origin of the sign see 21st Century Zodiac Signs.
But people once regarded Scorpio with fear and suspicion. Read more or less any pre-1960s astrological book for an example of this. Same with the 8th House and anything Pluto. Scorps/8th House themes generally seen as bad news: you might as well own up to being officially evil relatively early in life and get on with your witchcraft, whoring, slander, scheming and generally gothic dark life.
Scorpio was re-branded (correctly, in my opinion) as being more all about Authenticity and Passion. And the 8th House became a part of the chart associated with self-dev and Jungian style shadow-work. Thankfully. I have a substantial 8th House and was horrified by the delineations in some of the old textbooks i used to trawl through as a child. I had a dictionary on hand to look up the meaning of words such as ‘erotomania,’ ‘venereal’ and ‘vainglorious.’